The twisted world of Apex Construct begs you to explore its secrets while the mysterious guiding voice of the artificial intelligence, FATHR, keeps you on edge with a feeling that all is not as it seems.
But is the cake a lie? That depends on what you make of the story, which is told from the point of view of FATHR – with the rival AI, MOTHR, only getting a small opportunity to say her piece. For the most part you’re left to decipher what happened to the world by collecting notes from clipboards or by gathering excerpts that can be extracted from various computer terminals – but who left these memos?
Apex Construct is shrouded in mystery and while the story gripped me, I didn’t feel like the climax managed to put all my demons to rest. I enjoy this kind of storytelling – allowing you to decipher what you will – but I feel the game is left too open ended, failing to give a clear answer as to why you exist in this strange dystopian world.
The world is beautifully crafted. The different regions are all interconnected and have you revisiting them multiple times. Some areas are hidden away waiting to be found by intrepid explorers, I even found a few areas that still remain an enigma to me. Unable to fathom why they exist, it’s this mystery that will keep me scratching away at Apex Construct’s surface until I find the answers I want.
Interestingly, Apex Construct can be played standing or seated and includes several options to tweak movement. You can combine the slow-paced locomotion movement, which vignettes the edges of the screen eliminating any motion sickness, with the tried and tested teleport lasso. There is also a rotate button that allows a quick 180 turn or by flicking the controller, a smaller rotation that can be defined in the options.
A neat inventory system, an AR interface located on your left arm, is a really nice touch. The interface has a real feel when using the motion controllers, as does the bow, which albeit some different arrow types, is your only weapon in the game.
When released, the arrows have a small amount of drop that increases the further away you are. It’s actually quite wonderful as it immerses you into the feeling that you are actually drawing and releasing an arrow. The physics of the bow are mostly there. Once an arrow is pulled back, that hand then has no affect on the bow’s angle. In the PSVR game Raw Data, the bow’s angle can be adjusted with both hands, holding firm with your lead hand and pivoting with the hand drawing the arrow.
The combat is tight but each conflict is rather lite. Resigned to simple exchanges of arrows vs. energy blasts, each battle is a simple dance of dodging by moving your head or blocking with an energy shield, which projects from the front of the bow. This makes for an easygoing experience, with death only a minor setback with unbanked Radiance Points that are collected from fallen enemies lost. It’s these Radiance Points that must be collected in order to upgrade your attributes. The intensity of combat is there, it was just lacking in challenge.
New enemies enter the fray; all with different attack patterns, but the same dodge and wait it out mechanic can be employed. It doesn’t take the fun away from landing an arrow square in their red eye, but the combat rarely changes – unless of course – you go headlong into the fray and get up close and personal with the robots.
Despite some exploration puzzles and solving a few terminal inputs by correctly typing on their keyboards, the puzzling of Apex Construct is kept to a minimum, which is a shame. In the early stages of the game an electric arrow is introduced. Able to activate switches, this could have led to several interesting opportunities to add another mechanic to the game, instead, it is mainly used in combat to strip away energy shields from enemies for a short period.
Despite the ending, which still has me scratching my head in confusion and the somewhat samey combat experiences, I thoroughly enjoyed Apex Construct. The world is wonderfully crafted and a place I am happy to spend time in VR – not something I’ve felt so far about any other game in PSVR’s library.
Hopefully the release of Apex Construct is a rallying call for the next wave of PSVR games and that we can kiss goodbye to the slew of arena based wave shooters that the device is becoming swamped with.