Review – Kill It With Fire VR
I have previously mentioned that virtual reality allows for some genres that might have been considered overly boring and menial on a gaming console, such as fishing and cooking, to be more engaging and entertaining than before. Today, we are going to answer another question: does VR allow for previously boring arcade-like experiences to have a new chance to shine in a new medium? Can the added immersion and motion controls offered by these machines turn the menial into something acceptable? Let’s take a look at this question with today’s
guinea pig subject, Kill It With Fire VR.
Our own Kyle Nicol reviewed Kill It With Fire, the original version, a few years back, and wasn’t impressed by it. Back then, tinyBuild’s output was mostly tied to games with a silly premise that were best enjoyed by watching a YouTuber lose their s*** with them, not actually by playing them outright. The game was all about squishing spiders hidden inside drawers and other furniture, with the methods of getting rid of it left up to the player. You could just squash them with whatever house item you could get your hands on, or even a flamethrower if you felt like it.
Sounds fun, right? Well, it wasn’t. Thanks to a wild cocktail comprised of terrible visuals, clunky controls, and a repetitive gameplay loop, Kill It With Fire didn’t set us ablaze. It was uninteresting, to say the least. But that is the beauty of virtual reality: out of the sudden, a game we know isn’t exactly very good can have a legit second chance to shine by being ported to these machines? Don’t get me wrong, Kill It With Fire VR is a textbook example of that. It is, indeed, much better than the original game. But here’s the kicker: it is better than the original because that game was just plain bad. It is now, at best, an aggressively average VR game that can be mildly amusing for an hour, maybe two. Hey, it’s still progress at the end of the day.
First of all, it looks and runs much better than its original counterpart. The kicker is that the original Kill It With Fire looked horrendous, with excessive amounts of brightness, and ran like custard on an Xbox. When it comes to VR, you cannot afford low framerates, unless you want a mob of vomiting consumers demanding for the publisher to pay their hospital bills. The fact that Kill It With Fire VR looks bad (but not terrible) and runs decently is the bare minimum you’d expect, and not exactly an achievement.
When it comes to its technical achievements, however, there is one thing I did actually enjoy from it. While the soundtrack isn’t particularly impressive, Kill It With Fire VR does take advantage of the Quest 2’s audio capabilities to give you hints of where the spiders are. You may hear some squishy noises behind you, properly telling where to explore. If anything, that is the big highlight I can mention about this game… it does take advantage of VR immersion in smarter ways than I could have imagined. Sadly, when it comes to the rest of the gameplay itself, Kill It With Fire VR doesn’t excite.
While the core gameplay loop is the same (explore house, look for bugs, get rid of bugs, do some extra objectives), VR motion controls vastly alter Kill It With Fire VR‘s game feel. After deciding your best means of movement right from the get-go in a well-explained main menu option (looking at you, Tennis League VR), you’re thrown into a house and told to just meander until you find your first spider. You will probably kill it by holding an object and flailing it in front of you until you kill the poor little arachnid.
The physics don’t feel right, though. I would constantly smash a 50″ flat-screen TV onto a minuscule bug and there was no weight to it, and the collision detection just wouldn’t feel exciting. Wielding additional weaponry, such as the flamethrower, was fun for a few seconds, but given how its ammunition runs out in an ever shorter amount of time, any amusement stemming from it would be very brief. At the end of the day, I was focusing less on the fact Kill It With Fire VR was, well, Kill It With Fire in VR, and more on just being given a big house to mutilate for no reason. That aforementioned slight joy brought by VR immersion, creating fun of our own with completely unrelated mechanics.
I still need to commend the fact that, indeed, Kill It With Fire VR is much better than its non-VR counterpart, but mostly by default. That game just was plain bad to begin with, so adapting it to a more immersive medium, with the addition of (clunky) motion controls to mess around with would automatically make it more engaging. Sadly, just like the original Kill It With Fire, it is fun for an hour, maybe two, but it will then get boring pretty quickly. This kind of game just isn’t groundbreaking or amusing in the VR realm anymore, so there’s little incentive to grab it unless you were REALLY into the original in the first place. Which, I’m pretty sure you weren’t.
Slightly better-looking than the base version of Kill It With Fire, but not by much. However, it does run a lot better than the non-VR version.
Movement and camera controls are decent, but the physics and menu interfaces are clunky and poorly explained.
The soundtrack is mediocre at best, but the usage of the Quest 2’s 3D sound capabilities to give you hints of where the spiders are was a neat little touch, giving credit where credit is due.
Fun Factor: 6.0
Just like its non-VR counterpart, it’s fun for an hour or so, but it gets repetitive quickly. It does have the advantage of having the slight modicum of immersion to warrant the occasional replayability factor, as well as just letting you trash rooms in VR for the dumbest reasons.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Kill It With Fire VR is available now on PS VR, PS VR2, PCVR and Meta Quest 2.
Reviewed on Meta Quest 2.
A copy of Kill It With Fire VR was provided by the publisher.