The Walker is a first-person horror wave based shooter available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. The Walker developer Haymaker won the China Hero Project Award and Best VR Game of 2017 at the Golden Plume Awards, while publisher Perp Games has brought some of the best VR games to PlayStation VR at retail including Moss, Apex Construct, Theseus, Time Carnage, VR Karts, Radial-G: Racing Revolved, Fruit Ninja VR, Perfect, The Assembly, Ultimate VR Collection and more besides. Can Haymaker’s award winning pedigree and Perp Games’ VR experience result in The Walker being one of the best first-person horror shooters on PlayStation VR?
The story revolves around the mysterious lead character having no recollection of his abilities in being someone that vanquishes evil, although an equally mysterious guide is on hand to show your character what he is capable of and answer any questions.
Gameplay begins with a tutorial on how to aim, fire and reload the pistol, switching between weaponry, swinging the sword, collecting a charm and how to combine the charm with the pistol or sword; therefore the major gameplay elements are presented within a very well paced tutorial that will fully prepare the player for gameplay inside of five minutes.
Upon completing each of the five levels and the multiple waves of enemies within each level; a rush mode will be unlocked that essentially offers a survival mode were multiple waves of enemies will increase in their health and damage dealt per attack to your character.
Enemy design is varied as there are enemies of all shapes, sizes and mobility. Enemies reminiscent to a cross between mummies and zombies crawl along the floor with keys around their necks and variations of those enemies crawl along the walls before leaping nearby to begin attacking your character. Meanwhile, giant enemies walk towards you with menacing stares, enemies project a ball of fire from a bow when situated anywhere from a few feet away to peering out a window, although there are even larger enemies that are essentially boss battles including a huge raven that has partially taken the form of a previously innocent bystander that furiously chases after your character from different angles on a train carriage; and more enemies are gradually introduced.
Weaponry comprises of a pistol and a sword to vanquish evil, while charms increase the power of such weapons with abilities including freezing an enemy in ice resulting in the enemy shattering into pieces and stunning enemies via electricity. The sword comes into its own as it is the best method of defeating the raven enemy boss due to the ability to deflect the attacks by re-positioning your sword to counter, while the same can be stated for the archers that shoot balls of fire from their bows as they can be dodged or deflected by positioning your character’s sword to defend your character from being hit. Upon completing the five levels; an automatic gun reminiscent to an uzi and a larger, more powerful sword is unlocked to be utilised in both modes and all difficulty levels.
Environment design has some variety to it including your character’s apartment, darkly lit streets at night, train stations, train carriages and more besides based on the architecture of old Shanghai. However, it would have been more preferable if the player had a much greater freedom of movement in order to actually be able to explore every area rather than your character moving at 90 degree increments, although every environment still manages to fully immerse the player as enemies attack from all angles.
The controls are appropriately mapped to two PlayStation Move controllers that represent your left and right hands with a control scheme consisting of pressing the trigger button on the right handed PlayStation Move to fire the pistol; pressing the move button on the right handed Move controller to interact with charms or objects; pressing the move button on the left handed Move controller to use a charm; and pressing X or O on the left handed Move controller to manoeuvre your character 90 degrees at a time. PlayStation Move’s gyroscopic motion sensing functionality allows the player to aim the pistol or sword on the right handed Move controller and combine a charm by picking it up through pressing the move button on the left handed Move controller followed by positioning the charm directly next to the pistol or sword. Head tracking is utilised efficiently enabling the player to look to either side to seek out enemies and look at objects and characters in your character’s apartment before pressing the move button to interact, alongside vibration reflecting the recoil of the pistol when fired. The DualShock 4 controller control scheme re-maps aiming of the pistol and sword to the head tracking of the VR headset, while pressing R1 allows the player to raise the character’s hand to being in line with where the player is aiming the gun or to bring the sword upwards to shield your character from the archer’s fire balls, alongside manoeuvring your character 90 degrees at a time being re-mapped to moving the left analogue stick to the left or right and choosing a charm to equip having been mapped to the left and right of the d-pad. However, the aim is a little off at times when playing with the DualShock 4 controller, especially when aiming at archers located high above your character and the aim cursor also disappears on occasion during gameplay with the DualShock 4 controller.
Graphically, The Walker has some of the best enemy character models and animations on PlayStation VR, especially when enemies crawl down and along the sides of buildings and leap towards your character, while surrounding environments look pretty good too and the particle effects on the sparks that are produced when shielding your character from an archer’s ball of fire looks amazing. There is also a consistency in performance and immersion during gameplay that gradually escalates in horror such as when your character is being pursued by a troublesome raven whilst standing within a train carriage.
The Walker’s presentation is immediately immersive as the developer’s logo and atmospheric surroundings are layered in the sense of what you would anticipate from stereoscopic 3D. The main menu is centred around your character’s apartment as the player can select the level by utilising the head tracking of the VR headset followed by pressing the move button on PlayStation Move or O on DualShock 4. However, following on from the environment the player is about to enter being presented on a loading screen for around 10 seconds; the screen most often than not becomes black, but that can be resolved by leaning forward a little, although it is a little odd that can happen when even sitting fairly close to or further away from the camera tracking the VR headset and controllers.
Your character does not speak, although there are subtitles, while your character’s guide and a spirit contained within armour speak a foreign language that is also subtitled. Sound effects genuinely increase the tension as the player will most probably be able to hear an enemy approaching before it is within view, especially the cross between a zombie and a mummy as the keys around their necks rattle, while larger enemies also make increasing quantities of noise as their approach draws ever closer. Meanwhile, sound effects also include firing and reloading the pistol, swinging the sword, combining a charm with the pistol or sword and lightning strikes in the distance to symbolise the arrival of more enemies, alongside ambient sound effects such as heavy rain. Atmospheric instrumental music is particularly prominent during the level selection menu within the character’s apartment.
The trophy list includes 18 trophies with 16 bronze trophies and 2 silver trophies. Easier trophies include an accumulation of defeating enemies with any method or a particular weapon, while harder trophies include completing every stage on the hardest difficulty level and earning the highest score category on the hardest difficulty level. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 12 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, normal and hard, although the second and third difficulty levels are not immediately available and must be unlocked by completing every wave on all five levels on the previous difficulty level. However, in an attempt to even it up a little and provide the player with more of a chance against the far more aggressive enemies on normal and hard difficulty levels; an automatic gun and a better sword are also simultaneously unlocked.
For family and friends situated in the same room; the TV presents what the player is experiencing, albeit without the same quality of depth in comparison to virtual reality. There is no social screen multiplayer which is a missed opportunity to introduce local multiplayer through having the VR player taking on the role of the mysterious lead character as he vanquishes evil, while the TV player controls the enemies situated within each area in an attempt to prevent him from defeating every enemy to progress through each area and discovering more about himself by deciding the approach and formation of each enemy wave in a competitive multiplayer battle. However, there are no online leaderboards which could have focused on the top 10 and global rankings for each player’s highest score and fastest times per wave and level.
The Walker’s replayability stems from multiple waves within five story focused levels, scoring points to earn a better grading for your performance per level provides motivation to return to each level, alongside a further two unlockable difficulty levels and a rush mode that really changes up the gameplay and expands the length of the game beyond the original hour of gameplay. However, it would have been nice to have a competitive edge via online leaderboards.
- Title: The Walker
- Developer: Haymaker
- Publisher: Perp Games/Winking Entertainment
- System: PlayStation VR
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: 3.31GB