When it comes to virtual reality (VR) wave shooters feelings can be fairly mixed here at VRFocus as to whether they can still hold a place in our ageing hearts. Titles like Space Pirate Trainer were great in the day, yet they’re now starting to show their age, confined to VR arcades demoing the technology to fresh faces. New ones are still appearing, looking reinvigorate the genre by mixing in others such as Funnersoft’s PlanTechtor, a sort of tower defence, wave shooter mashup.
Sat a top a tower your job is to kill the waves of robotic alien enemies as they wander through your castle courtyard, making sure they don’t reach the castle gates and get through. While the environment certainly goes for a medieval theme with towering walls of stone, the rest is decidedly not so, seemingly going for a hodgepodge of weapons and additional features.
At your disposal are three primary weapons, a bow, a pair of fully automatic pistols and of course a bazooka. Each has its own particular benefits or more precisely are better at taking out particular enemies during each wave.
PlanTechtor’s gameplay is fairly uninspiring when it comes the defeating each wave, you’ll be hot swapping between the weapons as the situation demands. When the levels do eventually get harder you will need to watch out for which hand you pick up the bow or bazooka in as there’s no easy way to swap – unless you’re ambidextrous – which can mean game over at the wrong point.
Nothing too amazing so far, but PlanTechtor’s party piece is in its pre-wave planning. Here you’re giving the opportunity to augment your weapons with different abilities, fire, ice, lightning etc., alongside additional bonuses. It’s with the latter options that the videogame starts to get a bit more interesting, juggling particular traits for one another.
In the beginning, pickings are slim, and quite often certain stats are locked to a particular weapon. For example, in one wave the fire ability can only be used on the machine pistols. Luckily as things progress not only does the variety but also the amount of customisation. These come in the form of custom slots where you can add various multipliers, so getting kills with the bow will increase lightning damage or setting enemies on fire will improve the area of effect (AoE) for the bazooka and so on.
Because of the range on offer PlanTechtor enables you to weave quite the web of upgrades for each wave, which are then locked in place until the next one. Fail, however, and these can then be switched around to vary your strategy before trying again, finding a solution that eventually works.
The idea is novel in itself but it feels like the entire experience is resting on that singular features shoulders. Even a couple of years ago the gameplay might have looked a little aged yet now it looks dated. With over 50 levels providing a decent amount of gameplay time, the repetition will likely wear on most VR fans. What PlanTechtor needed was more of the tower defence style gameplay, with the possibility to move to other towers, and slightly more convoluted levels to give it that extra slice of variety.