Sairento VR is one of those games that, on paper, simply shouldn’t work. Its high octane brand of shooting and slashing, combined with ninja-style acrobatics sounds like it would be enough to make you chunder before you’ve even strapped on your visor.
Somehow, developer Mixed Realms has managed to pull this off, wonderfully turning what many would consider as a fool’s errand into a great VR game. This also happens to be the Singapore studio’s debut, and it’s a game that we hope will lead to bigger, more ambitious projects down the line.
When we originally reviewed Sairento VR for the HTC Vive, Dave enjoyed its blockbuster battles and the way it controlled, though questioned how the game’s content was structured. However, with its launch on PlayStation VR, we simply had to give this shinobi simulator another look.
Sairento serves up one manic melee after the next; a string of arcade-style skirmishes deliver concentrated doses of action with no filler in between. It’s a game that truly flourishes when in the heat of battle, sporting a robust range of options when it comes to dispatching your enemies.
You can equip four weapons in total – two slotted by your waist and two behind your shoulders. From katanas and shotguns to the chained blades of the kusarigama, the first hour or so in Sairento will be spent testing the game’s many instruments of death.
Even deadlier are your ninja moves or, to be more specific, the way you combine these with your attacks. Sairento isn’t a static shooting gallery – in fact, spend more than a few seconds in the same spot and you’re as good as dead. The game encourages players to leap through the air, chaining together wall runs, double jumps, and knee slides that would put Mirror’s Edge and Dying Light to shame.
The precision with which you perform these cinematic feats is honestly surprising and cleverly aided by short bursts of Matrix-like slow mo. What’s even more surprising is that you won’t need a sick bucket on standby. Although there have been one or two jarring moments for me, Sairento goes easy on the eyes with plenty of comfort options to mess around with
It may not explore its cyberpunk setting as thoroughly as sci-fi nerds would like, but this still provides a distinctly cool backdrop for all its superb katana swinging. There’s a ten mission campaign, though you’ll breeze straight through it. As an arena combat game, don’t expect a particularly engaging narrative-driven experience, sprawling level designs, or jaw-dropping set pieces. With skill and tiny doses of imagination, you can create the latter yourself.
Sairento also boasts a sense of depth missing from many VR shooters. You’ll earn experience upon completing missions and killing enemies, also bagging loot and resources. These can be spent on upgrading and refining your loadout with plenty of options for creating your own personal playstyle. This is bolstered by an RPG-like skill tree complete with perks to permanently boost your core stats and proficiency with certain weapons.
Mixed Realms might be a fledgling studio though every game developer working to create a VR action game should be paying attention. Sairento is a beautiful ballet or blades and bullets that PlayStation VR owners won’t want to miss.