I’ve not played any fighting games in VR, so getting to play Underdogs was something I was excited about. Even better is getting to sit in the cockpit of a mech called Rilla, battling a whole manner of robots with nothing but my huge swinging fists. One Hamsa has found its niche and ran with it in every direction. Not only is it one of the most responsive games I’ve played on the Meta Quest 3, it’s also got that ‘one more run’ feeling that not every roguelike manages to offer. Welcome to the combat arena, folks! It’s wild down there.
The concept is relatively straightforward, and while there is a story to it, you’re not weighed down by constant dialogue and cutscenes. It follows two brothers who are heading to the last city inhabited by humans. Unfortunately for you, there’s a whole underground fight scene dominated by giant mechs that needs to be ventured through. Exposition is implemented through comic book panel cutscenes that look stunning in VR, and the occasional voice acting feels authentic thanks to the believable cast. Where Underdogs works so well, though, is the excellent combat.
At the start of every fight, you’ll grab the two controls located at the front of your mech, with each arm representing Rilla’s arms. Imagine a giant metal gorilla and you’re pretty much there. Heading into the arena is exciting as you never know what’s waiting there for you, but thankfully you’re more than equipped to deal with the threats. There’s such a high level of satisfaction swinging your arms to land an uppercut, and connecting with a haymaker to bash the crap out of a steel panther and send it sideways never got old. If you imagine a way to punch an enemy, you can do it in Underdogs, where precision and responsiveness is always present.
Movement is also great in Underdogs. Depending how you play, you can snap to turn or use the stick to turn like normal first-person titles. When it comes to dodging out of the way, you can use both hands to throw yourself to the left or right by ‘grabbing’ the ground. Another method of attack is to launch yourself forward in the same manner, doing damage to anything that’s standing in your way. The way enemies attack switches up depending on what it is your fighting, with them jumping through the air, attacking from the sides or from behind, and even firing at you from a distance.
With Underdogs being a roguelike, you’ll attempt each run with mystery in the variables you’ll encounter. There’re plenty of different power-ups, new parts, and weapons to unlock, as well as opportunities to repair your mech after a difficult fight. Some runs are easier than others, but that’s all part of the format. You’ll also be presented with certain moral dilemmas that can affect future performances in the arena, such as finding cash on the floor and deciding to pocket it instead of giving it back. Being ruthless underground is the only way to survive and get to New Brakka, but these personal touches test your morality in interesting ways.
It’s simple in its delivery, but the physics-based combat is exceptional. Underdogs is one of the coolest VR games on the market, and whether you’re energetic enough to take on another round, there’s tons of replayability. Funnily enough, if you want to get a workout in and would rather not go sparring in a boxing ring with a real human, this is a great way to get some exercise done in your own home. It’s exhilarating, intense, and beautifully presented that you’ll enjoy each new enemy, especially some of the tough bosses. There’s also a great soundtrack to serenade you as you play, getting you pumped up as you bash the hell out of your opponent.
Underdogs is a perfect example of physics done right in virtual reality. It gives you the fundamental premise of fighting and translates it superbly in a VR setting, with slick presentation and incredible battles that are both unpredictable and exciting. The roguelike elements work so well, and there’s always something new in what tools are presented at you to get the job done. If you get defeated, you’ll jump straight back in and go again because that’s just how good it is. One Hamsa has made something great with this mech fighter, and is one of the best fighters on the platform.
Roguelike elements are addictive
Comic book cutscenes are great
Might be too energetic for some
Fights can be tough
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