Like an unexpected blue shell from Mario Kart, Death Lap seems to have come from out of nowhere and crashed onto the front page Oculus store. Unlike the blue shell though, the impact of this one feels a bit limp and after playing it for over an hour, I’m less than impressed with the vehicular mayhem on offer.
You can watch me try out both the Rift S and Quest versions of Death Lap in this week’s episode of Ian’s VR Corner, which you’ll find just below these words. The Rift S footage is present from the start but you can skip to the 13 minute mark if you just want to watch Quest gameplay.
The first thing that struck me about the Rift S version of Death Lap was just how budget it all looked. Everything felt underwhelming, from the amateur actor performing the intro video in his Poundland ‘bandit’ costume, through to the bland and simple textures and limp sound effects. Granted I’d just come from playing mega-budget, gorgeous games like Stormland and Asgard’s Wrath and yes, Death Lap does only command a budget price, but still, there were points where it felt like I was playing a cheesy PS1 game rather than the cutting edge VR combat racer it wants to be.
There are five tracks in total and while they have some interesting twists to them that make them all stand out against each other, none of them screamed quality to me. In fact a couple of the early tracks like the Mad Max inspired desert level felt rather bare aside from a few ramps and power-ups dotted around. Each track has at least a couple of shortcuts to them and some of the later tracks like the Las Vegas inspired Sin City track have a lot more going on visually, but when a lot was going on this often caused the game to feel a bit rickety leading to collisions that felt unfair.
The Quest version, which I try out about two thirds of the way through the video above plays almost identically to the Rift S version, just with some very minor graphical downgrades that you’ll struggle to even notice. In fact, when you jump into a multiplayer session you’re thrown in with players from the Rift S version as well as the Quest. I know this because there were only about three people online during my time recording and one of them appeared in both my Rift S and Quest lobbies.
Online multiplayer seems way more fun than the single player stuff by the way, but only due to interactions with human players giving it a bit of life. If the lobby isn’t full the game populates it with bots so you’ll never be short of a race, but the more bots there are, the more it just feels like the single player mode.
Comfort wise there are three settings, I played on Extreme on both platforms and had no issues with motion sickness even though it does get pretty fast at times. The lower settings should solve any comfort issues for VR newcomers and Death Lap is also a seated game so it’s easily playable for those of you with limited space.
The idea of a combat racing game in VR seems like a pretty good one, especially one that tries to marry Mario Kart with Twisted Metal like this one does. Unfortunately the low quality makes the action feel scruffy and unfair and I can’t see it holding people’s attention for very long at all, which is something that doesn’t bode well for the already sparsely populated lobbies.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian’s VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I’ve covered Asgard’s Wrath, Ghost Giant and Five Nights at Freddy’s VR. You can also read our list of best PSVR games.