It seems some of the best VR games we’ve seen so far, like Battlezone VR (a VR Awards nominee), like to take it old-school. This debut title from newly formed indie studio House of How also aims to do just that.
Inspired by games like Geometry Wars and Xortex 26XX, Spartaga is an easy to learn but hard to master ode to the arcade greats. The development of the game started over a year ago, led by a former Gears of War lead technical designer. With a few friends from other AAA games like Minecraft and studios like Telltale, Spartaga was set to be a winning recipe from the start.
Spartaga is an arcade shooter set to release soon for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift on Steam. I asked the lead developer and founder of House of How, Russ McMackin, to give a timeframe and he said that it should release sometime towards the end of this month.
Check out our quick gameplay video below:
Dodge Bullets, Lasers, Kamikaze Ships, and More
I got to try Spartaga on HTC Vive and the experience was instantly moving. Paired with the fast-paced techno music and the contrast between the neon lights and ethereal space setting, Spartaga instantly infused me with a mix of wonder and anticipation. I soon started moving along with the beat of the music.
Spartaga does support roomscale but is basically a stand in one place type of game. A good example of the type of gameplay you can expect from Spartaga is the spaceship-shooter arcade mini game in Valve’s The Lab. Just like in that game you take control of a spaceship with your one hand (so only one controller is used during your time in this game) and have to shoot opposing spaceships while avoiding a hail of bullets.
The ship has a laser that’s constantly ‘on’ so you don’t have to push any buttons to shoot your enemies. I had quite a good time trying to dodge all of the types of enemies while keeping my laser focused on them. There are over 30 types of enemies in the game and each behaves and attacks different way so you have to prioritize your attacks. Another influence on when you attack an enemy has to do with the points system and your weapon. For every four enemies of the same type you kill, the laser turns into a stronger laser beam that almost instantly defeats the opposing ships. But when you break the chain then it turns back into the normal ‘pew pew’ laser.
So this game is pretty easy to learn and the combat is styled in such a way that you can quickly get into it – but in order to become the best (as in lead the scoreboard), you’ll have to employ fast reaction skills and a good strategy.
Weave With The Rythm
There are 32 stages to play through in Spartaga, all of which have been handcrafted and aren’t procedurally generated. Playing through the levels, I could definitely feel that there was a steady incline in difficulty and the enemy attacks seemed to increase in number and speed. Luckily your firepower also increases with time as you earn credits with every level you complete (and you can replay levels to earn some more which is great) so you can spend these credits on upgrading your secondary weapons as well as buying new ones. These include Multi Strike, Blast Missile, Slowmo, Smash, and Invulnerability. Which comes especially in handy against the four bosses spread throughout the game – though I found that some weapons are more effective against them than others. Although I did have some bugs with activating the weapons, which I’m sure will be fixed before the full release since the game is currently still in beta.
Spartaga also has 5 modes to play through, including a mode where everything happens even faster – the light show of hailing bullets was both mesmerizing and deadly – and “Carbon mode”. This mode is a lot like the normal game mode (where the beat already gets you dancing) but features music from the popular electronica duo, Carbon Based Lifeforms from Sweden that brings a melodic and almost meditative flow to the combat. An interesting fact about this partnership is that the musical duo has recently brought out a new album after 6 years.
So make sure to keep a lookout for the release of Spartaga later this month because it’s sure to be a hit amongst anyone who’s looking for a VR game that focuses on solid gameplay with sick beats. We’ll keep you posted on any further updates.
Genre: Wave Shooter
Developer: House of How
Publisher: House of How
Release Date: 28 August 2017