Review – Covert

A port from the Oculus Go and Gear VR, Covert is the latest game by White Elk Studios. If the name is familiar, they are the minds behind another recent mobile-to-console port: Eclipse: Edge of Light. While Eclipse placed you in an extremely secluded walking simulator, Covert embraces the polar opposite. It is a co-op only game that requires team-work and constant communication and direction.

You either play inside the headset as the thief, or you play on a tablet as the hacker. Joining a game is easy to do but does require the tablet to have the Covert Companion App for iOS and Android, which will take you about half a gigabye. When the VR player starts a game, he/she will be given a PIN which the tablet player uses to join the session. This allows you to play inside the same room for some couch co-op, or over a network. However, let’s face it, Covert is meant to be a couch co-op experience.

As the thief, your job is to navigate the world. Your friend will give you all the intel they can, but it is you that will need to avoid detection, slip past sensors and guards, and access systems for the hacker to do their thing. The thief is the leg-work. It’s the thief that will actually have to get from point A to point B.

As the hacker, your job is to manipulate the environment. You will open doors, power objects on and off, and guide your VR counterpart through the maze of hallways and rooms. I was surprised at how much there is for the hacker to stay actively present through each level. You will ping objects of interest for the thief to scan, ping enemy locations to avoid, light flash to blind enemies if you’re detected, and work cooperatively to complete puzzles.

Covert-Companion-Stacy

Time to put everything you learned on 24 into practice.

That is the best part of Covert, the cooperation between the thief and the hacker. It was a lot of fun to play beside either my wife or my son, swapping off from thief to hacker to thief again. Learning a little of how each is played helped me guide the thief better, or as the thief, detail what I need them to locate for me.

You can play Covert with both a Dualshock 4 as well as your Move controllers. The DS4 gives you a more familiar play but I just can’t get as into VR without having arm and hand movement. With the Move controllers, your left hand will mostly control moving forward, backward, and strafing left and right. Your right hand will handle turning, scanning, and interacting. Moving your head left or right will handle minor veering of your direction. Also, rest assured, you can change your movement from 90 degrees, to 45, to 15, and to smooth.

Motion sickness isn’t distracting, but it isn’t entirely eliminated either. Limited turning obviously helps. Playing on smooth turning, which is what we all immediately look to change to, did cause minor slight nausea. I found that trading off Thief and Hacker jobs was enough to limit even that.

Covert-Guard

Chicks dig the shades.

Graphically, Covert is an obvious port of a mobile VR game. The PSVR and Rift ports are clearly a definitive edition of sorts, but the room design and layouts are clearly made for devices with limited hardware in mind. Every room feels the same with 90 degree walls and objects. You enter a large room with an objective, then scatter in about five other cube shaped objects. Go into next large room that looks fairly identical with five different cube shaped objects. The actual character design is fun and cartoon-like.

The voice acting really is rather good. Both the VR and tablet player get the same voice over narration and instructions, with the occasional telecom hack by the antagonist. They are the perfect amount of agency and villain trope. Neither player is left out of the game or made to feel they are just an instrument. However, playing in the same room can be annoying since the timing is off by a fraction and causes an echo effect.

Covert-Lasers

Covert is a great little heist adventure if you are a fan of couch co-op titles and have family or friends nearby. The often hilarious back and forth interactions are casual enough to include mostly anyone while never devolving the fun into frustrated arguing or finger pointing. The approximate five hours worth of missions keep both players involved and offer a fair amount of laughs and satisfaction when you reach the end of them.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Really enjoyed the character animation but the room design is limited and a bit too repetitive.

Gameplay: 7.5

Fun but somewhat repetitive level design. Very good collaboration between VR and tablet players.

Sound: 8.0

Enjoyable script and voiceover of the agency and antagonist rogue agent.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Sometimes hilarious teamwork that never devolves into frustration and blame.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Covert is available now on PC and PSVR.

Reviewed on PS4 Pro.

A copy of Covert was provided by the publisher.

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