Dead Hungry: VR Technical Review
The Pixel Junk series has been a popular one for Q-games, the Kyoto based team had a huge hit with Monsters but have made many other titles across PC and Console. Most recently they pushed the tech envelope with the, sadly now shutdown, Tomorrow Children on Playstation 4, using Asynchronous compute gained them approximately 30% back which they utilised in the game
Unlike that pioneering title this one is powered by the Unity engine that allows much quicker development without the need to maintain an entire code-base during development, something the team are very used to. Its founder Dylan Cuthbert cut his teeth with Argonaut software back in the 80’s and was a key factor in the SuperFX chip on the SNES and both Star Fox titles, including the recently released sequel that I covered in my Snes Mini review and analysis. After stints with Nintendo, Sony he remained in Tokyo and founded Q-games. His residence in Japan along with the company has an effect on the games they make and this latest Zombie muncher is again one that has that distinct Japanese flavour it to.
The edible Dead
Having made games across a vast array of hardware, they now turn their hands to VR. Hitting all 3 big VR headsets from Vive, Oculus and PSVR (which I am testing here on PS4 and PRO) they sent me the review code. Like all good ingredients it is a mix of inspirations and answers the question (if anyone ever asked) what would you get if you crossed the Walking Dead with Cooking Mama…
The structure of the game is simple, a zombie holocaust has gripped Japan at least and you are a lone mobile fast food chef, on the run from paying income taxes and the flesh eating ghouls. Just because they are dead does not mean they do not need a staple diet. This is where we come in, armed with a pair of oven gloves, a deep fat fryer, gridle and magically appearing ingredients we have to feed the undead army that resemble the fallout from a Glastonbury weekend. The skill comes in the timing, helped by the thrash metal tapes that play in the background, these can be swapped and new tunes earned as you play.
Adding sauce, dressing, chips, pizza’s you can follow the recipe or concoct your own mega tower burgers with everything but the kitchen sink, and I tried believe me, if it's not nailed down, use it. The levels start slow but until you get the rhythm of swapping uncooked meat with the cooked as you go and keeping all these sections going at once it can be tough. Being only a man, multi-tasking is a skill we lack but you can only try your best. As you get into the routine you will have massive mega burgers, topped with chicken wings, pizza, sauce bottles and pepper pots, even throw in the shake to wash it all down. Maxing out the food increases its hunger filling power, but miss parts of burn the food will lower that. And do not even think about cutting out the middle man, they may be dead but uncooked meat is a faux pas and the customer will let you know.
As far as party games go it is a real laugh, hurrying to keep the food on the go and your eye on the hordes is a real laugh, as your audience laughs at you ineptitude as you drop food and struggle to swap the orders round. It supports both Dual shock and move controllers which allows it to be played by a wider VR audience. I found the move to be more intuitive and quicker as you can simply reach out and grab the parts you need. The controller option uses the trigger to collect and a target on screen that is moved with your head as you look, highlight the item and click the trigger to pick up, turn on or swap he tapes.
This brings us to some minor gripes, you need to have a decent amount of space around you and as I have my camera set-up above the screen at around 5.5 from the ground this is perfect for the sitting down approach I have with gaming. Here though due to my long sofa I found it could restrict my movement as I played and reach for items. This is due to me being sat around 5 feet from the screen and as such you are placed in the world slightly to far forward, this could be resolved very simply by having the option to position yourself in the world when you start. It does clearly state you need space around you like all VR games, otherwise it can hinder your culinary skills.
Second is the sensitivity or obstruction of picking items up, you can reach to grab items and as you are in a rush you can find yourself grabbing the wrong ones or missing them at times. But this is a constant issue with VR titles that rely on accuracy of this sort, and in general terms it is very forgiving with its accuracy but at times you can drop something on the floor and have to contort yourself like a gymnast to retrieve it. I love the short burst and frantic pace the game has, being easy to pick up but a real challenge to beat your score or progress to the next level. Seeing the new Zombie types and end of stage bosses can drive you on to feed another mouth.
It fits the VR tech perfectly and would make a great party game at the holiday season or any group session, with a few beers, the social screen and a challenge issued it can pass the time brilliantly. My biggest concern though its longevity or value, costing around £15 or $20 the lack of any other stages other than the one here is a weakness as is the minimal amount of zombie types and ingredients you have to play with. For this price I would have wanted a couple more locales to break up the view, maybe a sunny beach with some animated backdrops of surfers and sharks, or a supermarket car park with the associated links that could have.
Also adding in a mixture of booths to work from, maybe a sushi bar where you have to chop and prepare the food on a rotational griddle.This would add more variety to the game types and length without adding a great deal of work or cost. As it stands with its content it is a brilliant game for the format and makes an excellent party game than anyone can pick up and play, VR is the great white hope in that regard as many of my friends and wife have played these games are not even into games, VR makes it so accessible. Added to the fact that you are stationary the sickness levels are very low indeed.
PS4 or Pro
Being a title that ships on PC and console it as set its target well and that includes minimal to no Pro benefits here. Visually they are identical and I believe they run the same resolution also (my capture on VR is limited to 720P) if it does boost the resolution it is hard to impossible to notice within the headset. And thus delivers an identical presentation across all formats. Visually it is not a looker but does a decent enough job to never distract from your feeding frenzy and the Unity engine has enough grunt to keep performance rock solid as is a requirement for the VR experience.
A sub £10 price would make this a far more attractive purchase and one I would instantly recommend to anyone up for a laugh, the option to add more features and modes would really enhance it’s appeal and value. It is a game I thoroughly enjoy and takes you back to the start of the gaming passion we all share, with VR having that ability to deliver these simple but intuitive premises that are easy to pick up but much harder to put down. Only the cost of entry lets the side down which may be addressed with a later discount option or maybe additional modes being added, but with that all said I am off to flip a few more burgers…..