If VR had been commercially available in the 90s – then this is what I think the early games would have looked like. Wild Downtown is possibly one of the worst titles I’ve ever played in VR, and yet, at times, it was also one of the most charming. Though at this point, I’m just not sure whether the utter terribleness of it was intentional or not. Because like one of those random freaks of nature dogs that win those ‘ugliest mongrel’ contests, I couldn’t help but find Wild Downtown just a little bit endearing.
At its most basic core, Wild Downtown plays a little like a Grand Theft Auto game – without the characters, storyline, missions, or detailed city landscapes. So you get to go on a mass shooting spree in the streets, steal some money from a bank, and ride around the city at your leisure in cars and motorbikes. Which overall sounds pretty great in theory. Until I actually started playing Wild Downtown and realized this was an early access game that should still be in pre-Alpha.
The city, while lacking cars, trucks, stray cats, working shops, or anything that you’d expect to find in a bustling city, really, are full of pedestrians at least. All of which are based on three or four character models, and who are all walking at exactly the same speed in straight lines, looking like they’re trying their best imitation of the Vince McMahon walk.
While traveling through the clean (ahem, empty) streets of this city, I would come across a variety of weapons. Things like baseball bats, axes, pistols, and AK47s were conveniently lying around on park benches and dustbins. Which made it relatively easy to start my murder spree if/when the weapons didn’t glitch around a couple of times first. Strangely enough though, the citizens of this city, inbred though they may be, were all pretty sturdy. Meaning that it took around 10 to 15 bullets before one would finally flop down in a mass of flailing limbs.
Taking It In Stride
There are a few vehicles to try out as well, including a motorbike, Vespa, and some cars (my knowledge on D&D lore far surpasses my knowledge on cars so I won’t try to guess the models). These do offer some fun all on their own and each drives a little different than the other, though, motion sickness might be a big issue for lots of people here. That being said, Wild Downtown only offers smooth locomotion so motion sickness might be a problem in general.
Taking all of that into account, the game still has a lot of improving to do – unless the goal was to produce a bad game for the heck of it, like Mosh Pit Simulator from developer Sos Sosowski, who has gained some infamy in his quest to create the best worst VR game ever. Still, there are a lot of bugs and glitches that the developers need to iron out.
For example, I would suddenly start floating when walking down the street, interacting with any objects in the game was a bit of a gamble (especially the gambling machines, heh) and the NPCs would sometimes just walk into each other and glitch out. Plus they’re all pretty set on where they’re going, so be wary the poor fool who stands in their way.
So for now, we’re not exactly getting the amazing open-world city adventure we might want. U24 Solutions will have to give their basic idea more polish and a lot more content before I could even recommend it at all. If you do want to check it out, though, then go right ahead and enjoy your slow ride through some empty virtual streets, with the occasional mass murder should you feel like it. Wild Downtown is available in early access now on Steam for HTC Vive at a $9.99 price tag.