Review – Fracked
Have you ever wanted to play a game that was a supernatural Cliffhanger? Well, Fracked might just be your game. It puts you on a mountain top in an abandoned fracking facility overrun by interdimensional beings. You will be hanging from helicopters, skiing down slopes, and hanging on edges for dear life, all to find out the mystery behind what is being fracked.
Fracked is an action-adventure, first-person cover shooter that has found a way to use cover in a unique way. Typically in VR games you either need to physically crouch and lean down or use a button to toggle the character to crouch. nDreams has instead found a method that feels natural, without making you stand and crouch or artificially toggle. You can grab just about any corner in the game with one hand, and move yourself around that junction with ease. For instance, if you want to peek around a bend, grab the corner and pull your body to the side to move closer to the fork. This works for moving up and down as well. Grabbing the top of the railing while lifting upwards will bring your body down behind the cover.
(For some reason my pictures taken during gameplay all came out with a terrible aliasing and resolution. This is not a representation of the actual visuals in game.)
This mechanic worked extremely well: it felt very natural, and it’s one of the more unique aspects of the gameplay. Unfortunately, the general shooting gameplay doesn’t really evolve past simple cover shooting. There are action moments where you’ll be skiing down a slope and shooting at enemies, but these are rare and brief. Using your head to steer while skiing is fine, but no amount of accessibility options helped my motion sickness. I should note: this is not a normal thing for me in VR. There are moments in Fracked where the camera will pan around, which caused me to feel very dizzy. This also happened during the climbing sections. You can turn off the “auto turn” while climbing, but for some reason the motion still got to me every time.
Luckily, going back to the shooting sections helped calm my sickness, but unfortunately the cover shooting just got stale. You start with a standard pistol only, which is fine as it gets the job done. You’ll quickly get a sub-machine gun after that, but that’s it until the last couple chapters of the game. You’ll finally get to use other weapons like a shotgun, revolver, and grenade launcher, but these are one-time use weapons that disappear after the ammo is out. Since they only show up late in the game, there is a lot of Fracked that feels repetitive. There just isn’t enough variety in weapons or level design.
Unfortunately, the lack of variety trickles down to the enemy design as well. You have normal soldiers, stronger soldiers, a kamikaze, and a big tank guy, and that’s it. Granted, Fracked isn’t a very long game, but the fact that I was feeling bored with the weapons and enemies within three hours isn’t great. That being said, I really liked the overall design of the game. The art style with its cel-shaded bold lines and its painterly design looks really good. I just wish there was more variety in the enemies and weapons.
The sound design is hit and miss with it offering some good voice acting and soundtrack, but it’s missing the general sound effects and guns. The weapons don’t have any punch to them in the sound design, which makes them feel very weak to use. Even the power weapons, like the revolver and shotgun, weren’t satisfying with the shot feedback. The soundtrack is actually great though, offering a wide range of music that fits the action on screen, as well as the tense parts of climbing a falling tram.
Fracked isn’t a bad game; it actually brought forth one of my favorite cover shooting mechanics I’ve used in a VR game. The mechanics are fine, the initial weapons work, and the enemies can be tough; but beyond the first hour, I was ready for it to introduce something new. We have supernatural interdimensional themes, but no crazy weapons to use or over-the-top enemies to take on. We have this gorgeous art style, but it doesn’t do anything bold with it. There are great ideas here, it just never advances itself and ends up becoming stale.
I really enjoyed the cel-shaded look with the painterly art style, and the color palette pops nicely. The enemy designs lacked variety, however.
The general movement felt natural, interactions were intuitive, and the cover system works really well for VR. There is also a lack of variety with the weapons.
The voice acting and soundtrack are solid, as well as the general sound design. However, the weapons lack any punch or weight and weren’t satisfying.
Fun Factor: 5.0
There are moments of fun action during the skiing parts or when you’re basically Cliffhanger, however the gameplay never evolves leaving the last half feeling stale. I also had a lot of moments of motion sickness which is not normal for me.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Fracked is available now on PlayStation 4 PSVR.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.
A copy of Fracked was provided by the publisher.