Immersion – it’s the reason that VR has become something very enjoyable for some players. Those who have dived head-first into the world of VR walked away with a whole new take on the world of video games and Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher is about to bring Chinese folklore into the equation. In one way it’s quite fresh and another a few steps too far off a cliff.
Made in China
By now you should be well aware that the Chinese New Year is a very important event of the year that celebrates the culture of China. In it stories are told through the ages and in Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher you’ll get to experience the story that involves a beast called Ksi. In their story he comes in the form of an emperor and is out to conquer time, after already doing so with space. Playing as an ex-special forces soldier, Tyre, you’re drawn towards Yingzhou Island and Ksi. As your plane reaches the area something monstrous destroys the back of your plane and it goes plummeting to earth. When you do finally wake up you’re in cuffs and held hostage by some random goon. He chirps you and soon runs off to aid his fellow bad guys. Your saviour comes in the form of the most random form… a brightly-coloured popular influencer that goes by the name of Cookie Pie. It’s an obvious reference to PewDiePie. To say that I was cringing beyond belief at this point is an understatement, but things turned for the worse thereafter.
Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher is a first-person adventure survival horror game that forces you to use the PlayStation Move controllers. In other words, from the get-go you’re going to play the entire game without the assistance of an analogue controller. It’s by far the game’s biggest obstacle. As a player you need a very good understanding of the button layout, as with the VR headset attached to your head you won’t be able to glance down at the controller quickly to re-establish which button does what when in a frantic situation that happens quite often throughout your experience. Each and every face button has a use on the move controller, on both sides as you’ll have access to weapons and items in both hands. The inventory for each controller is also different from each other, depending on which hand you used to pick up the new item or weapon – these can be swapped between left and right inventory with ease though. The other buttons will switch between weapons, walk backwards and walk forwards. There are also left and right strafe and turning buttons (located on the left or right Move controller to sink in with the way your brain will calculate it all).
At first you’re going to feel like you can’t tell your left foot from your right. Moving is a real mission.
On the wrong footing
At first you’re going to feel like you can’t tell your left foot from your right. Moving is a real mission. Press the Move button (that big button on the Move controller) and you’ll walk in the direction you’re facing. Press and hold the second Move button and you’ll walk a bit faster. You can’t really run. So, while pressing your thumb down on the Move controller, press the other face button to turn with the tip of your thumb… or let go, press the turn button and now continue moving forward. It’s really cumbersome and it’s all thanks to the lack of being able to use analogue sticks. Thankfully Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher won’t throw you in the deep-end and gradually introduces threats. What starts off as simple human enemies later change into monster-like opponents, which I’m not going to touch too much on as the game will only last your about five hours in total and, even with the ridiculous control system, there is quite a bit of good in the game later on.
The first two hours of the game are really slow. You’ll encounter and fumble around with some bad guys, while you get to grips with your handgun, assault rifle, shotgun, axe and various other weapons. Voice recordings and documents are also scattered about for you to catch up on story development. You’ll also learn that there are some artifacts hidden away for you to discover that could involve some basic rock-climbing, but once you get to the second half of the game things really do improve quite a bit. The story gains some interest, though not fantastic, and puzzle solving enters the fray more often, which really does help with the pace.
All the puzzles will include some sort of activity and movement, so it’s not just all brain work. Some puzzles might be hidden behind rocks that can be destroyed with a bit of dynamite. The weapons control are as expected in most average VR games, with a reload of your gun requiring a quick shake of the move controller. Ammunition is scarce, as it should be in survival horror, so a focus on headshots is crucial. Some of your opponents will, later on, require more planned attack patterns that could involve, I dunno, things like molotovs and grenades. It’s up to you to experiment with what works best.
In my head!
Something that did put me off throughout my playtime were the positioning of my characters outstretched arms in terms of its appearance. The only limbs moving are really only your wrists. Other than that you look a little silly. There was a moment early on in the game where Tyre is reminiscing about his mother, who calls out to him behind a door. As you make your way towards the door your arms are outstretched… as if you’re a zombie walking towards it. What is supposed to create some sense of emotion early on left me in stitches. I looked like a zombie walking towards the room my mother was in and (in my head) was about to chomp on her. I don’t think this was what the developers intended, but that’s how it felt in my world.
There is the odd boss battle, which is quite enjoyable, but in the end, it’s not enough to warrant much excitement. Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher is the first game in numerous chapters and I’m hoping that there will be improvements in the future, but for now it’s, as the review score suggests, a real average experience. There are much better experiences in VR that is way more immortal than this.