I have always been fascinated by the history and era of the Wild West. People like John Joshua Webb and Sam Bass to even the Lincoln County War with Billy the Kid, Josiah “Doc” Scurlock, and Pat Garrett. The list goes on and on, but why hasn’t this era been used more in gaming. I always thought how awesome it would be out in the Wild West, galloping on my faithful horse, and being on the lookout for that notorious gang. But has the time finally come upon us? Does From the Future take the concept to the next level? Let’s find out with Hopalong: The Badlands for the PlayStation VR.
When I first heard about Hopalong: The Badlands I got excited. Finally, everything I wanted to experience in Virtual Reality. I went through my checklist…
- Open air √
- Wild West feel √
- Gun (because it is the Wild West and all and you can’t run to a local police station) √
Trusty SteedTrusty Stick Horse √
Yep, I was all set. Wait…Trusty Stick Horse? Yes, you read this right a stick horse. I was thinking no way. How would this work? It can’t work, can it? Then I saw my stick horse and I was instantly sold. Just look at him or her, you can decide for yourself. Me and Hopalong Danger…we got this.
Now the object of Hopalong: The Badlands is to help make the lands safe for all by getting rid of the riff-raff of the toughest gang in these here parts, known as the Dynamite Gang. But you will need to be able to move throughout the land and, right? Well, make sure both of your Move controllers are fully charged because they are about to be used.
One Move controller will be used to control your mighty stick horse and it moves just how you would think…up and down and it works. You can strafe just my moving the Move controller in that direction or you can turn with the buttons on the same Move controller. It just takes a few seconds to a couple minutes to get used to it. So depending on how fast you move it will translate to the speed that you and your stick horse will move.
The other Move controller will serve as your weapon hand. When you run out of bullets, you will need to lower your gun for it to reload. I want to applaud From The Future for making the controls spot on. This comes in handy when your stick horse needs water and you have to fire all at the same time.
Yes, your stick horse will need water to help replenish the energy from enemy fire. You will be able to see how much damage is done by looking at your stick horses collar. So thank you for having the meter placed here compared to on the screen in VR as it adds to the simplicity of everything.
Once you get used to your stick horse of a steed, it’s time to get moving along. Not once did I feel like I was lost as it was easy to find out where to go. On some levels, you will need to find the detonator(s) and set them off. This allows for new areas to be opened up for you to explore and continue your mission of peace and for all stick horses to have an equal opportunity at life.
Enemies are different enough to enjoy. I like how some will come at you with knives to throwing dynamite that you can shoot out of the air. They are not too tough and they don’t need to be. I mean some of them are galloping on their own stick horses as well, which is pretty amusing. There is a good selection of weapons from pick axes to shotguns for you to use. Just have fun in the caves as the pickaxe may be a better selection. But I will say that galloping while using a shotgun is very satisfying.
One thing that may be a little frustration is survival. When playing a level, if you die, you have to start the level over. This should not be something that steers you away but allows you to step up your game. I mean if you think you can, I have faith in you. But if for some reason you just need a little help, feel free to change the setting to easy.
Now an adventure such as this is not without its rewards. There are collectibles to collect. Some are out in the open and some you may need to search a little harder for. But you want more, then you should have more. How about new horses to select from? From different looks to different abilities to help you with your goal and the replayability of trying to collect those missed collectible opportunities.
Graphically as I mentioned, everything is very sharp and that is very important in VR. The details on the stick horse alone is impressive as well as the distance. I had no problem making out any details. When you gallop, look at your horse just to admire the movement. Explosions are impressive and add to the sense of the adventure. Sound wise, the way Hopalong: The Badlands is great. From the awesome narration to the gunfire to the sounds of you galloping to the music. I actually want the soundtrack that compliments the game perfectly.
The only thing I could see that would, even more, fun to what can already be had here would be online multiplayer. Just think about DM or CTF while everyone was on their stick horses or stick horse races would be awesome and hilarious. It’s not needed, but still would be fun.
Hopalong: The Badlands does something special by making us feel like we are in the Wild West and adding the fun of stick horses to the mix. It’s a concept when you first think about shouldn’t work, but thanks to some excellent development, some thought, and throwing out what should not work From The Future shows us all how it should and can work.