We here at Honey’s Anime have always wondered what it would be like to be like Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise. Sneaking around large military bases trying to take down enemy spies/enemies just seems like such a cool concept. Digital Lode seemed to have a similar thought to us and have developed a truly ambitious game. Titled Espire 1: VR Operative, you done the PSVR headset and become a VR cyborg spy who must stop an evil plot that could threaten the world. Does this amazing idea transition to an equally incredible PSVR title? We find out below in our full review of Espire 1: VR Operative for the PSVR!
What to Expect
Espire 1: VR Operative is a stealth-action PSVR game that gives you freedom unlike ever before. With your super-powered Espire suit, you are the only one capable of taking back a nuclear base from an unknown force. Use a wide variety of weapons and tools to take down enemies and utilize the suit’s wide range of abilities. Scale various surfaces, use visual targeting tools and unleash your skills on this enemy threat. There is no wrong way to engage this enemy threat but failure is not an option! Become the agent the organization needs in Espire 1: VR Operative!
Agent…we have a situation. One of our bases was infiltrated and we need you to help those still inside. You will need to don an Espire Agent which will allow us to keep you out of harm’s way but give you a means of taking back our base. There is only one Espire Unit left meaning failure isn’t an option. You are the last hope for the agency and possibly those who are being held captive. Agent…we wish you luck, your mission begins and time is not on your side.
If you’ve played any of the more recent Metal Gear games and/or Splinter Cell titles, then you know the beauty of being able to truly do things in your own way. Espire 1: VR Operative has that concept at its forefront by boasting a stealth-action experience but we’ll say this now, it has its problems. When Espire 1: VR Operative works, it is easily one of the coolest PSVR games we’ve played in recent memory. Equally, when we see the various problems that appear in it we remember how far PSVR still has to go as an immersive gaming experience.
As with most stealth games, Espire 1: VR Operative is a simple title to explain. Players don their Espire units—which are controlled by an agent in a VR setting while you’re playing with a VR headset—to engage in an infiltration mission. Your Espire unit is given a bevy of cool abilities such as magnetic hands that can allow it to climb walls and other surfaces, a repair tool to fix damage taken in combat and numerous guns from pistols to shotguns and machine guns. Controls in Espire 1: VR Operative work really well allowing players to feel pinpoint accuracy and immersive world engagement. Players can even use their fists to take down enemies—in a comical way sometimes—or motion for them to freeze if they have the drop on them. These concepts make Espire 1: VR Operative engaging and exciting as we loved being like Solid Snake even if for a second. Unfortunately, almost every good thing we can say about Espire 1: VR Operative can be rebutted with a negative thought as well.
While climbing/movement works quite well—as well as manipulating environmental parts to stay in the shadows—there are times where things fall apart in those same elements. We ran into numerous times where climbing proved frustrating as hands went into the walls and wouldn’t register us climbing unless we did some strange hand movements in real life. This wasn’t fixed if we stood up while playing or reconfigured the PSVR apparatuses either. Espire 1: VR Operative has a ton of odd glitches that can truly make for some frustrating segments. We had to restart the game twice from the beginning due to invisible walls appearing where we had to go or other oddities. Thankfully we didn’t keep running into these issues but the popped up often and regularly.
Shooting and movement feels incredible in Espire 1: VR Operative—with almost no motion sickness due to the developer’s systems at play—but often these gameplay segments felt a bit repetitive. Usually, you’re going from room to room, trying to find a switch to open a door or take down some enemy to make it to the next room. While Espire 1: VR Operative is generous in the fact that it allows you to create some truly interesting ways to outsmart the enemy patrols, it didn’t ever feel like enough to remove that repetitive gameplay. Still, we commend the fact that aiming is pin perfect and there’s an almost dizzying amount of ways to interact with the enemy from grabbing their knocked out bodies to throwing empty magazines against a wall to make noise. Espire 1: VR Operative clearly learned from the great stealth games we mentioned above and we loved being able to execute these moves with our PS Move controllers versus a regular controller.
Visually, Espire 1: VR Operative looks great sometimes and bland other times. Enemies usually look very generic but the other Espire units and some levels look truly pretty cool! Audio is also identical to the visuals. Some voice acting feels movie-like and others feel a bit goofy/lifeless. Given that Espire 1: VR Operative isn’t a huge triple A title we can overlook both categories though as we know these can cost a company big dollars. Though we still wish things were a bit more polished in both the visuals/audio to create a more immersive PSVR experience.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Espire 1: VR Operative tries to be one of the more adventurous VR games for the PSVR and in some ways it succeeds all while failing in some ways. Gameplay can truly be a mixture of exciting as you try to sneak by guards while hanging onto a wire on the ceiling and it can be boring when you run around and one punch enemies to submission. Espire 1: VR Operative falters in being extremely glitchy and occasionally boring. However, when Espire 1: VR Operative works—and it does thankfully more often than not—it can make you feel like a covert agent who truly is taking control over a cyborg-like machine. If you are willing to overlook the numerous flaws with Espire 1: VR Operative then you’ll enjoy this title. Espire 1: VR Operative shows that the PSVR has the ability to truly be incredible but equally still suffers from the numerous problems found in most VR titles.
The idea of a stealth VR title is ambitious and it often makes you feel like a spy in a dangerous game of life/death.
Climbing walls and other surfaces feels responsive (usually) and gives you numerous ways to be stealthy.
Guns aim quite well and the tracking tends to work in your favor.
Little to no motion sickness with free movement and that is an impressive feat.
The story is truly forgettable even with some cool ideas thrown in.
We ran into numerous glitches while playing some worse than others.
Gameplay can be quite repetitive as you constantly are doing the same things for most of the early game.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Digital Lode should be commended for what they did with Espire 1: VR Operative. While not perfect—far from it—Espire 1: VR Operative is still a fun game that shows the PSVR has the ability to produce amazing VR games. We can only hope that many other studios take note from what Espire 1: VR Operative did correctly and incorporate those concepts in future games, especially the almost non-existent motion sickness. Have you played Espire 1: VR Operative or plan to? Comment below with your thoughts as we love hearing from our loyal readers out there! For even more game reviews and anime related articles be sure to keep stuck to our hive here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!