Fast game play, super simple controls, and a catchy soundtrack. The only thing missing is a quarter slot and some sub-par pizza. If you have spent any amount of time in an arcade, you know exactly what I mean. Neon Seoul: Outrun is one of those games that fits perfectly in the VR arcade box.
The game is not complex, has zero storyline, and has me screaming “bullshit” every time a cop busts me, or I hit a car. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I actually enjoyed the hell out of this. Despite the fact that I am garbage at racing games, this one has me itching for more in VR. Let’s take a look.
A Neon Future
Set in a future that is controlled by an oppressive AI, that apparently loves neon backdrops, you take on the role of an OutRunner. As an OutRunner, your weapon of choice is your super-fast hoverbike. You zip through the streets, dodging obstacles, and avoiding cops. Your goal, be the best of course.
So, the game is obviously light on story. Nothing is actually given to you in game but rather through the Steam or Oculus store page. I hate that. Even if it’s just some retro arcade style text with a splash screen, something is better than nothing in game.
The main selection screen does have some videos that play off to the side that features a pretty entertaining fellow. He points out the high scoring players, talks a bit about some game features, and would be perfect for story delivery. Hopefully something like this will be coming in future updates.
Put Your Hands Down
The controls for Outrun are one of the main reasons this game made me feel like it was a perfect arcade game fit. You don’t use your hands at all. Everything is tracked from your HMD and its perfectly executed. Lean left and right to turn, forward to go faster, back to break. It is incredibly simple to pick up.
Even the selection screen is hands free. You look at an object for a couple sections and its selected. Being a seated game, it provides you with a calibration that is equally easy to use before each round. It does a good job at making sure your position is correct on the hoverbike. Wouldn’t want your head smacking on the fuel tank when you’re trying to gain speed.
Controlling the bike felt natural for the most part. The game definitely has some room to grow in how the player can tweak the bike itself. Personally, I would love to have sharper turning. The game does have a section in the main selection screen that has bike details. So, it is possible that future updates will give players access to different bikes that feature different settings. Fingers crossed.
The graphics are simple but aesthetically perfect for the gameworld. Everything is neon and futuristic looking but doesn’t feel too distracting. The displays are all clear and don’t get in the way while your zipping about the town. After a while the cars do become very stale as the games’ one track reuses the limited assets over and over. A little more variety would go a long way, but what they do have is solid.
Your heads-up display is curved around your field of vision and bars display your speed, shield level, score and boosts. I found them to be ideally located and didn’t cause me to crash when I did quick checks. You can exit the current game by looking down at your bike and hitting the eject button.
The music in the game is a synthwave inspired soundtrack that is fantastic. It really sets the mood and gets you in the zone. The actual sound effects could use a little work. Passing cars felt a little odd because I was expecting that woosh sound, but never got it. The acceleration sound was also a little lackluster and crashing did not provide any real punch. The voice acting was great, and did a good job at encouraging and insulting the player. Loved that.
The overall gameplay is boiled down to just seeing how long you can survive and how high your score can get. You have shields that can be recharged throughout the stage, and allow you to take a little damage from cars and walls. After a while, the fuzz will come and try to bust you. When that happens, your shields won’t save you.
The cops in Outrun are little spheres that will try and get in front of you. If they do and manage to stay there for five seconds, its game over. There is even have a handy countdown that displays on the spherical bastards. If you see one, just gun it before it reaches five.
You have two options for game modes. One that lets you score points by staying alive and narrowly dodging cars for as long as possible, and one that is more casual. The casual mode lets you get a feel for the game, whereas the other has you gunning for global high scores.
It would be nice to have some more power ups or other types of police units that give chase. Possibly even some multiplayer support to keep things interesting. That said, it is early access and what you do get right now is solid and fun.
Neon Seoul: Outrun feels like it belongs in an arcade. It is not difficult to picture this being a hit unit, complete with some futuristic plastic motorcycle players can lean left and right on. Playing it at home, in an office chair, is actually really fun because it captures that arcade feel in VR quite nicely.
Yes, it could use some more content. However, being an early access game, I won’t knock it for scope right now. What it has is solid and worth the $9.95, if your into retro arcade style motorcycle games. Neon Seoul: Outrun is available on the Rift, Vive, and WMR through Steam. See you on the leaderboards.
Title: Neon Seoul: Outrun
Release Date: December 20, 2017 (Early Access)