There’s something that Virtual Reality is really good at, and that’s presence. It’s a bit of a buzzword, a fluffy piece of jargon that’s always thrown around when discussing virtual reality, but it’s used often because it’s terribly apt. Good VR has a magical, indescribable way of making you feel like the scene or situation projected onto your eyeballs through those goggles is real. When it’s done wrong though, whatever immersion should be there is stripped away, destroying whatever semblance of presence there might be.
I say this in my preamble because there are a few things that Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher, a terribly ambitious VR adventure FPS, does that break its immersion and they were jarring from the onset. It starts with the game’s opening sequence, which has protagonist former special forces agent Tyre travelling by plane to the Isle of Yingzhou after the mysterious death of his mother. On the plane, his travelling companion Ksana hands him stuff. I can’t remember what it was really; a map, a picture, some other bit of expositional guff. Instead of the game making you reach out and grab for it as most VR games do, Tyre just reaches up and holds this bauble, no matter the positions of your own arms. It’s a curious thing for any first-person VR game to do because it yanks you right out of the illusion.
This happens numerous times during Immortal Legacy, and it’s jarring every time. Another big problem with the game is that its developers don’t seem to have really put much thought into anatomy. No matter how you hold your arms while playing, they seem to jut out of your neck instead of your shoulders. While that doesn’t really impact the game too much, apart from the immersion, it’s perpetual; a constant reminder that something about Immortal Legacy isn’t right.
Adding to that sense is the game’s cumbersome control scheme. It’s a dual shooter with free movement, allowing you to walk around as you’d like, but that motion is hamstrung by Sony’s wand controllers. It means developer VivaGames has had to implement a solution that splits control over the two wands, using the left one to control your left turning and strafing, and right one for the right. You walk forward using the Move button or holding in both Move buttons to walk marginally faster. You can opt for smooth or snap turning via button, or just looking in the direction you want to move. It’s an initially confusing system.
For my first hour or two, I was not having a good time, especially as the story tying it all together was a bit of a wash. There’s some eastern philosophical nonsense and intrigue surrounding an old mythical beast called Ksi (pronounced Shi), and a few other mysteries to uncover on the island.
There’s a moment early in Immortal Legacy where – and I’m not making a word of this up – you’re shackled by some bad guys with guns, and saved from your hapless position by a flame-haired, short-skirted live streamer named Cookie Pie. She’s on the island on a crowd-funded quest by her followers to hunt for dragons. The story then, is a load of absolute Ksi-it and when Cookie Pie was introduced, I wished for sweet, merciful death to envelop me. Thankfully, like the chap who was turned into a newt, it got better.
While the story may be nonsense, and some curious design decisions ruin the presence, Immortal Legacy is an ambitious game that delivers a full-fat adventure FPs experience. It’s graphically impressive, with some creepy-looking monsters to shoot, and the shooting itself feels good. It’s bolstered by a few puzzles, environmental and otherwise that make it an engaging experience once you’ve managed to get over its glaring flaws.
As an aside, the protagonist voiced by Doug Cockle, who’s the voice behind The Witcher’s Geralt. Showing how important good voice directing is, here Cockle is flat and needlessly stoic in his delivery. It really sounds like he’s phoning it in. Given its budget price (it’s R319 on the PlayStation Store), it’s easy to overlook the odd animation, bad voice acting and nonsense story and enjoy it for what it is: a mindless bit of first-person adventuring that’s perhaps more ambitious than it should be. It’s an obvious set up for a series, so here’s hoping the next one’s better.
Last Updated: April 24, 2019