Feral Rites: A third-person, single player action-adventure game, developed by Insomniac Games for the Oculus Rift and Rift S - supports Gamepad and Touch as Gamepad. The game is rated for players aged 16+.
Game Languages: English (US), French (Canada), German, Korean, Spanish (Mexico)
Game duration: Expect about 15 - 20 hours of gameplay
Feral Rites is a VR adventure-brawler set on a mystical island. Play as a male or female warrior to avenge the death of your father by fighting your way through harrowing missions and quests. Immerse yourself exploring unique areas of the island; from under the jungle canopy to ruined temples. Along the way, you’ll master new abilities, like transforming yourself into a feral beast.
A combo-based combat system allows you to execute enemies, unlock extra gear and power-ups to enhance your playstyle and to customise your character.
Feral Rites isn’t all plain sailing as there are plenty of elements to throw you off course throughout the game.
The opening section acts as a tutorial, where there's quite a bit of unskippable dialogue that interjects itself at almost every turn. It can get a little frustrating but thankfully eases up as you progress. If you last past the opening, you'll begin to appreciate the complexities of the gameplay, as you chain together attacks in your human or beast forms, swapping between them at the touch of a button.
The human form appears to be the most versatile: it allows for counterattacks and chained aerial combos. The beast form is slower but ultimately acts as a second health bar. So if your human character is taking a beating, swapping out is a handy tactic. Players can also transform into a jaguar for extra speed, handy when exploring the map.
The combat starts off pretty mundane, with simple moves and enemies that don't really put up much of a fight. You could probably button-mash your way through the opening hours quite easily. However, as you would expect, progression allows for a greater arsenal of moves which allows for flamboyant combos, tossing enemies into traps and even teleportation attacks.
If you gain 100 combo points you’ll be able to execute enemies with a single button press, complete with a close-up shot when surrounded by six or more attackers.
It’s just a shame that the game takes so long to expand your combat abilities, because it really opens up some excellent skirmishes. Later on, you'll also come across a varied roster of enemies including witches, demon bats, hulking pigs, ninja monkeys and apes - as well as a selection of bosses. You’ll often find yourself rewarded with gold if you perform a shopping list of actions as you play.
It’s not all fighting, though. There are a few puzzle elements thrown in, but none are too tricky. You're also encouraged to hunt down chests and upgrades by looking at the map and then routing them out. Some of these rehash Where's Waldo?, as you're tasked with looking at a static scene to find items with a special marking.
Visually, Feral Rites looks very pleasant, with an excellent sense of scale as you look across the jungle scenes, filled with vibrant flora and fauna. There are also themed areas with their own unique styles, keeping the game fresh as you pour in the hours.
Despite the gorgeous visuals, the level design itself falls short. The biggest issues here are the fixed perspective camera and how each area is carved up into zones. As you cross into a new zone, the camera perspective changes. This often causes momentary confusion and worse - in some instances I lost track of my character, leading me to be killed by an opportunistic enemy.
A free camera option or tracking camera with larger play areas would have gone a long way to make these transitions less jarring. The zoning also highlights the poor design choice to have enemies not see you unless you enter their zone, which really breaks immersion. This is partially resolved later on when enemy patrol routes start to cross over multiple zones. That said, this is a comfortable game to play and won't cause any VR sickness for those prone to it.
Audio is of a reasonable quality with some adequate performances from the cast. Unfortunately, there's no actual depth to the characters, which left me uninterested in their plight. The music is pretty good though and funnily enough opts for some old school jungle drum and bass beats when the action heats up. The story is largely forgettable, which is made worse by the fact that you can’t skip any of it.
In terms of length, Feral Rites is a long slog with over 20 hours of gameplay on offer - at least if you decide to snag all the collectibles, complete the more interesting side quests and finish the main story. The side quests offers more bang for your buck, as they include elements which should have been fleshed out in the main story. For example, they let you fight alongside jaguars and the undead, so you get a chance for some mass brawling. You'll certainly get your money's worth here, to the point where upping the difficulty for a replay might not be necessary. Feral Rites is an interesting game, although it does like it's aimed at younger gamers due to a lack of depth and hand-holding throughout.
Unfortunately, Feral Rites is stuffed with filler, not plot. You'll find yourself spending hours on the same moves, breaking open more chests, and then getting into the same fights. I reckon that condensing the game would have done a lot for it.
The story, characters and theme feel uninspired. I can't help but think that with the core gameplay template, it could’ve been so much more.
As it stands, Feral Rites is fairly good, if you can endure the mind-numbing introduction and get on with the story. That being said, the negatives might put you off the game before you even begin.
If you can overlook the dodgy camera angles, poorly placed traps, unskippable scenes and wall-to-wall fighting you'll find a fun brawler that will take up your time without straining your wallet too much, now that the price has been reduced.
What was your experience with Feral Rites? Share your thoughts, comments and opinions with me using the comment box below.
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