Review – Anshar 2: Hyperdrive

My knowledge of VR games released for systems other than the PSVR is still a bit fresh, so it took me a while to find out that OZWE’s brand new Oculus Quest 2 exclusive, the space shooter Anshar 2: Hyperdrive, is actually a remake of an older VR title, from the early days of the technology’s mainstream availability. I’m talking about the jurassic year known as 2016. Feels like two decades ago, doesn’t it? VR technology has evolved so rapidly since then that a remake of a five year old title isn’t as absurd as it sounds. Let’s take a closer look at it.

Anshar 2 Graphics

I like how the game manages to look impressive at times, even if its assets aren’t exactly that complex.

Anshar 2: Hyperdrive starts off with a lengthy cutscene meant to showcase two important things. The first is the story, which ended up sounding like complete nonsense to me. The introductory video went on forever, but I didn’t mind it THAT much. I was also being introduced to the game’s engine and visuals, and noticed how well the developers have managed to make simplistic assets (rocks, asteroids, very polygonal starships) look quite good on the Quest 2’s screen. I was eager to try it out. Space combat simulators and VR are a match made in heaven, and having the opportunity to tackle one on a much more modern platform than the PSVR felt too good to be true. Sorry Star Wars: Squadrons, I love you, but you’re locked to a now-archaic system in comparison.

I have to remind you that despite its ambitious intentions, Anshar 2: Hyperdrive is for all intents and purposes, an indie game. As previously mentioned, it wants to wow you with set pieces, but its visuals are actually quite simple. It offers a completely voiced campaign, but the voice acting itself is subpar at best. The music, on the other hand, was actually pretty good. Far from being wow-inducing, but good. What I’m trying to clarify is that this is a somewhat flawed game, despite its ambition. And that can be seen when talking about its gameplay.

Anshar 2 Third Person

Third-Person mode makes it easier for you to pay attention at your surroundings, at the cost of throwing immersion of the window.

At its core, Anshar 2: Hyperdrive plays like a simpler, more arcade-like version of Star Wars: Squadrons. Its controls are a bit too responsive for my liking. Sure, we’re in space, and I guess might be somewhat realistic, but your ship feels weightless. The mere flick of any of the analog sticks results in a monstrous barrel roll or a 180 degree turn. It takes a while to get used to how sensitive the controls are, even after you tinker them on the options menu.

There are two different camera options at your disposal: third-person and first-person views. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Third-person gives you a lot more leeway to control your ship around, as you’re able to see what’s around you with ease. It’s also a decent fit for the game’s optional motion controls. On the other hand, any semblance of immersion is thrown out the window. It just feels like you’re playing Star Fox with your eyes glued to the screen. It’s just not as fun as it should be.

Anshar 2 First Person

First-Person mode is more immersive (and fun), but with more complicated controls.

First-person puts you inside the cockpit, drastically improving the level of immersion (and, as a result, the amount of fun you’ll have with the game). It’s great to be inside a ship, but it’s also incredibly nauseating. The aforementioned hypersensitivity makes it easy for your ship to spin around like that one band from the 80s. The controls are confusing and hard to get used to. If you’re brave enough, this will end up becoming the best camera scheme of the two, but you’ll need some time. And maybe a barf bag.

Finally, let’s talk about the amount of content offered in Anshar 2: Hyperdrive. It’s actually not that bad when you stop and think about it. Sure, every campaign is short and simple, and the amount of missions aren’t exactly impressive, but they are somewhat replayable. Furthermore, this game offers a sizeable assortment of multiplayer modes. The current online population isn’t huge (it’s the Oculus Quest for crying out loud), but it’s quite fun when you manage to find a match with a decent amount of players.

Anshar 2

Get used to seeing laser beams fly around.

Anshar 2: Hyperdrive is a flawed space combat simulator, but I still had my fair share of fun with it. By no means it is the best example of what VR can do with the genre, as Star Wars: Squadrons is alive and well, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s much cheaper, it’s arcadey in nature, and most importantly, it’s available on the Quest. Squadrons isn’t. A fun, fast-paced space combat simulator available on what’s essentially a portable VR headset? I don’t know about you, but that sounds good enough to me.

Graphics: 7.5

The excellent sensation of speed and striking art style cleverly manage to hide the simplicity of some of the game’s assets.

Gameplay: 6.0

If you decide to play the game via a third-person perspective, you’ll get better controls, but all sense of immersion is gone. First-person mode is a lot more immersive, but the controls are a lot more cumbersome.

Sound: 6.5

Fully voiced, although the quality of said acting is far from ideal. The soundtrack is decent enough, but not exactly memorable.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Its controls are confusing, and some of its production values are disappointing at best, but this is a pretty good space combat game, all things considered. Not to mention the inclusion of a handful of multiplayer modes.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Anshar 2: Hyperdrive is available now on Oculus Quest 2.

Reviewed on Oculus Quest 2.

A copy of Anshar 2: Hyperdrive was provided by the publisher.