ALTAIR BREAKER Review: DMC Meets Touhou in VR (Oculus Quest)

ALTAIR BREAKER is a great action multiplayer RPG in VR, endowing players with a sense of progression and gameplay mastery. The largest issue that ALTAIR BREAKER faces is lack of variety in content, but Thirdverse has sent a significant update since launch in the form of the post-game shadow levels.

ALTAIR BREAKER Review: DMC Meets Touhou in VR (Oculus Quest)
Thirdverse, the creators of Gargantua VR, have improved upon their multiplayer hack-and-slash formula. ALTAIR BREAKER is a first person action RPG in VR with unique, combo-based combat. The game excels in game feel and presentation, yet is held back by repetitive level design and limited enemy types. ALTAIR BREAKER may be worth a spot in the library of fans of sword fighting in VR. 

ALTAIR BREAKER is available for $24.99 on PCVR and Meta Quest.

ALTAIR BREAKER Launch Trailer | Meta Quest 2

Story – Interesting Setting, Sparse Delivery

ALTAIR BREAKER has a very similar story structure to Thirdverse’s previous multiplayer action RPG title, Gargantua VR. After the tutorial and character creation, players will find themselves on a floating island that serves as the hub world.

In this post apocalyptic world, rogue combat AI have taken over much of the world outside, and the friendly AI tasks you with going out and defeating the monsters. After selecting a private or public quick match room, players will go out in teams of four or solo and fight through stages of archipelago-like floating islands and ruins.

Ultimately, ALTAIR BREAKER does not have a complete story — rather, just enough context to justify gameplay.

Gameplay – Devil May Cry Meets Touhou in VR

Combat is a mix of the standard sword fighting that you can expect in a VR melee title, along with an interesting combo system – encouraging players to quickly chain strikes. Enemies also summon a bullet hell of particles, (like 3D Touhou), requiring players to master the movement system or to block with their weapons. The combat is very unique, given this mix of elements, and comes off feeling almost like a rhythm game, without the music to match.

With the addition of the RPG system – you level up your stats based on items you find in each level – I found that ALTAIR BREAKER offered a compelling, if repetitive (due to lack of level variety) gameplay loop. Combat is easy to grasp, while difficult to master – an ideal sweet spot for games to hit.

Main Hub

Main Hub

Game Flow – Attack, Rest, Boss

Between levels, players will have time to rest at a “camp”. The camp has a shop, a tent, a storage, a place to switch gear – in case you didn’t like any of the gear you picked up. Players can also invite new players to join their room with the provided room code. If players decide to rest at the camp between levels, they will restore hit points, but also lose the ‘preview’ of the next level, adding another layer of choice to the game flow.

Your enemies are huge, ten feet tall, robotic cyborgs that move fast and telegraph their movements. Fighting them can almost feel like playing a rhythm game, as ALTAIR BREAKER encourages chaining combos and sending enemies into the air for a sword juggle, reminiscent of Devil May Cry combat. Enemies evolve over time, matching the average level of the party in difficulty.

Throughout the levels, the voice of the friendly AI you met in the tutorial will guide you and announce new enemies to engage. The result makes players feel as if they are the star in their own shounen anime. Throughout play, I did not find the voice to be intrusive or repetitive.

Four Crystals for the Boss

After collecting four mini-boss purple crystals, usually found at the end of stages, players will be brought on to fight one of two variations of the final boss, depending on if the player is under level 20. The final boss fight requires patience and mastery of the in-game movement to get out of danger areas and smartly position oneself to increase damage, as the longer you drag the fight out, the more likely the boss will finish you off.

After completing the final variant of the boss, available after level 20, players will have access to a shadow realm – at the top of the hub world island – that dramatically increases difficulty and changes the formula to a randomly generated sky dungeon. This may be attempted solo or in groups of four, but is dramatically more challenging and requires careful gameplay.

Players will fight through a series of rooms, requiring a certain amount of rooms to be cleared before moving onto the next stage. This shadow dungeon area was added in with an update, indicating some future care for the game.

Boss Battle

Boss Battle

Movement – Freedom

Movement is one of the definite highlights of ALTAIR BREAKER, with a mixture of physical gestures and thumbstick locomotion to give a satisfactory climbing and gliding experience. Players will feel free to explore all over the floating archipelagos, as you can grab any surface to climb them, as well as raise your hands above your head to initiate a generous gliding mechanic. Combining this movement with the combat to avoid and damage enemies is satisfying and addicting.

Enemies and Weapons

Weapons come in several different flavors. There’s two handed weapons, which include a wicked long katana, a breaker sword reminiscent of Cloud’s main hand from FFVII, a wooden club, and a unique, intricate sword unlocked from defeating the final variant of the singularity boss. One handed weapons, however, feel more appropriate in terms of handling. There’s the rapier, gladius sword, and single handed katanas that output great damage when fully upgraded. I personally enjoyed using the one-handed weapons more than the two handed weapons, as it is easier to dual wield and defend/attack at the same time.

Enemies come in three colors, indicating their level of difficulty. On the hardest difficulty, white, enemies hit surprisingly hard, and players must be careful of the mage-type robots, which shoot out a plethora of damaging particles. There are also several soldier variants that are fast and hit hard, but telegraph their movements so that players have an easier time blocking and reacting to their attacks.

Swordplay – The Reason Why

Swordplay in ALTAIR BREAKER is exciting and a refreshing take on melee combat in VR, adding in a pseudo-scoring system that rates blocks and combos dealt to the enemies. This playstyle encourages players to push their limits and keep swinging to reach higher combos. Dodging the bullet-hell projectiles forces players to learn how to position themselves well in order to survive the gauntlet of foes and levels. Finally, higher difficulties, especially the final boss, encourage teamwork and communication between the players.

Defeat is moderately punishing in ALTAIR BREAKER, which sends you back to the beginning with an attempt to retry. All progress, with the exception of items picked up, resets. Players restart from the beginning of the four levels.

Swords and Friends

Swords and Friends

Multiplayer presence

As of writing, ALTAIR BREAKER has a fair multiplayer presence – you should be able to find a multiplayer match when playing during daylight hours. The servers seem to allow players from across the world to join, so there may be some language barrier issues when playing at odd hours of the night. Multiplayers presence has gone down over time, but ALTAIR BREAKER is still a successful single player title.

Graphics and Sound – Sleek, Redundant

ALTAIR BREAKER possesses great graphics, but content falls into to one of two aesthetics. Players fight in a sky cloud/ white ruins type of world, broken up by mossy green textures and the day/night cycle. The other aesthetic is the shadow realm, where the dark palette indicates the associated difficulty increase.

The sound design is also solid, with the ability to adjust various effects in the settings. If you find a certain aspect of the sound disharmonious, you have the ability to mute either the effects, in-game voices, other players, and music. I personally didn’t take issue with any aspect of the audio, and left as is.

The robots and animations look great, but reuse some assets from Thirdverse’s previous title, Gargantua VR. This is most apparent in the way enemies attack – the robots have a similar animation pool, and this allows players from the previous title to start off with an advantage. Regardless, ALTAIR BREAKER offers a unique gameplay loop in a pretty – if redundant package, and is worth picking up for fans of the genre.

ALTAIR BREAKER was reviewed on Oculus Quest. Also, we have more VR reviews at KeenGamer for you to read.

ALTAIR BREAKER is well worth adding to player's VR libraries if they are looking for a fresh take on melee combat in VR. ALTAIR BREAKER combines aspects of titles like Devil May Cry, Touhou, and melee VR sword fighting into a sleek package, but suffers from a lack of variety in level and enemy design. Thirdverse has clearly improved since their first multiplayer ARPG title, and the future is promising if they continue to develop content for the game.
  • Refreshing Combat
  • Sleek Presentation
  • Enjoyable Multiplayer Interactions
  • Lack of Variety in Enemies
  • Similar level Design
  • Limited Story

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