I first heard about Blue Effect, developed by DIVR Labs, only a week or two ago and was immediately interested due to its high quality graphics along with a uniquely stunning visual style. When I came across the title available for purchase on Steam last night, I had to buy and give it a try. Even though Blue Effect would qualify as a “Wave Shooter,” I would say it’s an extremely high quality wave shooter with a truly unique twist. Don’t get me wrong, the actual gameplay is simple, point and shoot, bang bang, punch punch. But it’s so visually striking that it adds that extra bit of needed immersion. Lighting is also beautifully executed. There’s a setting for “Volumetric Fog” included in the options menu, which really adds a sense of realism that is sorely lacking in other current VR titles.
The menu system is fantastic. It could use a label or two, but wow it’s an awesome honeycomb transparent screen that curves around you, feeling like something out of a Science Fiction movie. Once you stop gawking at the menus and actually start the game, it gets dark. Very dark. But that’s the point. You are equipped with beautifully textured weapons: “Little Buddy,” a laser pistol, and “Enlightenment,” described as “State of the art illumination orb technology powered by Blue Effect energy helps you to ‘enlight’ the darkest places and spot every enemy”. “Little Buddy” has a slightly dim flashlight mounted on it, can be used as a melee weapon as well and includes a readout on the back that displays your current wave and score. “Enlightenment” is where things get interesting. When you hold the trigger on”Enlightenment” a blue light orb starts to form as a sphere on the top of the device. You then can throw and release the trigger to toss the blue spheres in different areas of the map. They basically act as night lights and you’ll be needing them.
It is night-time on Planet Exo-277. You are a mercenary standing alone in a broken down warehouse that is dark as the night and plagued with drones and robotic spider-like monsters. You see nothing yet but can hear the unmistakeable click-clack of robotic spider legs somewhere in the dark. You generate a blue orb and throw it to light up the area you hear the monster coming from, only to see its shadow pass by in a flash. Thankfully most monsters have red eyes that allow you to discern them from the rubble in the warehouse, so look for the eyes and start shooting!
Blue Effect provides you with a big, secret weapon: “Blue Effect” which is described as “a rare energy source developed by Lumos Corporation that powers your equipment and is the catalyst for your mission, the people that hired, and the events that will unfold”. Along with your Enlightenment device and Little Buddy laser pistol, you have 4 vials of “Blue Effect” stored in a box on the left of the player. To use Blue Effect you merely press the trigger when your hand is close to it and smash it into the ground. Once the vial is broken, everything turns blue. Everything, except for your enemies which are now a very bright yellow/orange color, similar to FLIR night-vision but much more blue. The Blue Effect lasts for a couple minutes or so and makes every enemy easy to see so you can quickly take out any current enemies that you are facing.
Audio is especially important in this game as it is your prime indicator of the monsters’ location. I must say that Blue Effects audio quality is top notch with 3D binaural 5.1 surround sound, which is another factor that helps this game stick out from the crowd of wave shooters. Thus I was not surprised when I learned that the atmospheric sounds in Blue Effect were composed by Star Wars and Warcraft composer Jaroslav Beck.
Blue Effect also offers a few other interesting selling points:
– “Advanced Orb Physics for precise control”
– “Procedurally generated waves of enemies for better replayability”
– “Experimental progressive AI”
The Orb physics really were the first thing that jumped out at me when I first launched the game, I was having fun just tossing them around in the tutorial as they have an exquisite bounce to them that feels great. Experimental progressive AI sounds interesting, but I would like to have more details to fully understand what that truly entails.
Blue Effect manages to stand out and launches with a splash, making waves in the wave shooter genre. DIVR Labs, the developer, labels the game as Horror-Survival FPS but it’s not a gory or haunting type of horror. It just contains a few jump scares. For instance, if a predator like robot manages to sneak up on the side you’re not looking at, then lurches at you quickly with a shrill shrieking sound, it’ll surely make you wail. It definitely gave me a jump or two, but they felt more fun and invigorating than scary.
I know it’s hard to be excited for “another wave shooter,” but for me the high production value of the game along with its unique style, makes it worth a look. Especially as its currently on sale for 20% off the $19.99 price tag, available for $15.99 until October 6th, 2016.