Learn more about the game

Arcaxer Review: JRPG Goodness in VR (Oculus Quest)

Arcaxer is a nostalgic JRPG style trip through a gauntlet of fun bullet hell mechanics, enjoyable character dialogue, a memorable story, and unified aesthetics. The title is unique among current offerings in the VR space, and is an ambitious indie project worth picking up and placing in your VR library. VR offers a new dimension in which traditional JRPG grind mechanics can shine.

Arcaxer Review: JRPG Goodness in VR (Oculus Quest)

Looking for a way to enjoy a JRPG style game in VR? Arcaxer is a compelling turn based VR RRPG with an in depth story that requires both physical movement and simplistic tactics, reminiscent of early Final Fantasy titles. The layer of VR mechanics removes the doldrums of grinding in single player RPGs, and is unique for the 4D medium. No other VR games currently offer or does what Arcaxer does well, making it a nostalgic ‘must buy’ for fans of RPGs and JRPGs. On the downside, the game suffers from linearity and a few bugs in the end game content.

Arcaxer can be purchased for $24.99 on PCVR and Meta Quest stores. Also, check out our other VR reviews.

Arcaxer Launch Trailer | Meta Quest + Rift Platforms

Story – A Highlight

In a landscape of VR games that rely far more on gameplay content instead of story, Arcaxer is a refreshing change, offering a fully fleshed out campaign with likable and humorous characters.

You’ll start out as a virtual entity who is escaping the clutches of the ‘Task Master’, a malevolent enemy that wishes to kill you… for whatever reason. In the midst of your escape, you’ll discover that you have ‘hax’ powers. These hax powers allow you to bypass the natural limitations of player entities in the world and attack enemies that normally would slowly drain your hit points, making you last a lot longer in battle. These hax powers are reminiscent of spell casting in other JRPG titles.

The Centerpiece

After escaping the clutches of the Taskmaster, you’ll end up in a hub town. Here, there are an assortment of minigames, shops, and chests where you can upgrade equipment and turn in challenges for better hax and other items. The prominent focus of the story looms eerily above it all, made more impressive by the VR medium. A massive, endless tower, called “the stack’ is in the center of the town. This is what you’ll attempt to challenge by climbing the 100 procedurally generated floors, fighting various bosses and meeting new entities along the way.

The town with an imposing tower.

The town with an imposing tower.

Character Centric RPG

The game takes a lot more after JRPGs rather than western RPGs, due to its linear story and character – centric narrative. Several of the bosses you fight along the way will join your party, and have humorous dialogue among themselves and with your entity during moments in the narrative.

Pacing – Just Right

Players will likely hit moments where they will feel it’s necessary to grind a few lower floors to pass a certain ‘wall’ in the story as well, where that is a particularly challenging floor or boss. There will also be moments where you’ll take a break from conquering the floors of the stack and open new locations outside the hub town to get necessary gear to progress back in the tower. These areas include a sandy desert and a lake made of coffee. Alongside different themes in sections of the stack and the different outside worlds, I felt that the game avoided becoming monotonous.

Post Game

There is a lengthy post game in which you’ll challenge a new area after completing the last boss of the stack. You’ll travel to a new Casio-themed location where there is a new dungeon and several new bosses, for further development of a character that’s been by your side the whole main story. The post game, which is particularly challenging, was enjoyable and added much value to the title. At the centerpiece of the Casino is a much harder version of the stack with new enemies to fight and defeat. Here you’ll also find your previously amassed wealth is useless, as the Casino uses a new currency that is a bit harder to come by. Players will find the grind worth it, however, as the new shop offerings are powerful items that surpass main game content.

Boat Mecha? Boat Mecha.

Boat Mecha? Boat Mecha.

Gameplay – Two Perspectives

Outside of battles, you have the choice of playing in first person or third person, a top down view as your character gets through the story. Here you will find some light platforming challenges, especially after you unlock the ‘hoverboard’ , a hard-to-control slingshot method of travel. Here you can see your status screen, choose a loadout of passive abilities, and assign ‘hax’ (or spells) to one of eight slots in which you can use for battle.

These will receive experience as you defeat monsters, making these hax increase in effectiveness over time, thus giving you a window in which to create a certain ‘build’. You can still change these later on, but you might need to do more grinding in order to make them effective enough to use in the story.

In Battle – Bullet Hell Grinding

In battle, you’ll take a first person view of your character. Here you will have turn based battles. You have three methods of attack: Range physical, Melee Physical, and Hax (Spell-like powers). Hax can take the form of many different abilities, from buffs to your physical attacks, to summoning allies, to casting offensive spells like earthquakes and tornadoes with AOE damage.

During enemy turns, you’ll have to avoid projectiles being sent towards you – and if you do, you can negate damage. However, the projectiles cover a wide range of different looking affects, and some can be quite challenging to avoid – reminiscent of titles like Undertale or the Touhou games. Players will definitely get some light cardio going here!

Great Progression

Grinding doesn’t feel like a chore in the VR medium, due to the light cardio you’ll be getting during gameplay. It’s a lot more engaging than pressing buttons when grinding in other flat screen titles. Collecting and unlocking new hax feels exciting, and you can really feel like a futuristic techno-mage as you progress through the game.

Sandy Overworld Fight

Sandy Overworld Fight

Graphics + Sound – As Retrofuturism Is to the Present

Arcaxer has a serviceable presentation, with particular strength on the funky music tunes that will get you moving in time with the beat as you avoid the various projectiles being sent your way in battle mode. Most of the sound effects are reminiscent of older 16-bit effects, playing into the ‘80s/90s’ video-gamey feel of the game. Areas are various and are different enough for variety, yet also avoid ‘asset store jank’ , indicating that the modelling was done by one team. 

Customization does suffer in this department, as players only have 6 similar looking player models to choose from, with one more unlocked upon completion of the main story. This is a shame, as RPGs become a lot stronger with the player feeling as if they are their game character. This may have played to the strengths of the VR medium here as well.

The combination feels like what the 90s would think of a virtual reality in the future, similar to how retrofuturism operates: The past thinking of the future is a little off the mark compared to the actual present. The aesthetic gives Arcaxer a unique and unified vibe, even if the graphics won’t blow anyone’s minds out of the water. The game looks the same across PCVR and Mobile VR platforms, ensuring smooth performance. A bug during the casino level causes the only noticeable frame drop with using SMG style weapons on the Quest platform. This bug is resolved upon exiting the battle.

Taskmanager? No, taskMASTER

Taskmanager? No, taskMASTER

Entities and Hax names

The color palette is similarly enjoyable to view, and the various themes of the tower have appropriate aesthetics. Enemies often have unique designs that reflect their names. The names often incorporate a standard JRPG name in with a techno pun, such as the ‘web crawlers’ you’ll find in midgame – spider like enemies with webcam bodies that shoot webs at you. Hax often fall under similar naming schemes. The humor here matches the quips that the characters espouse during conversation, speaking to the writer’s strength and unity of the design team.

Arcaxer was reviewed on Oculus Quest.

Arcaxer is an awesome VR journey with unified aesthetics and a fully fleshed out campaign. The aforementioned story content and post game, along with mechanics that shine and are unique in VR, makes this title worth adding to VR libraries, especially those who are fans of flat screen JRPGS. Additionally, updates are still rolling out for the title, offering new areas, spells, and enemies to conquer. The downsides include an overly linear story that teases dialogue options, but offer no branching paths.
  • Complete Story/Post Game
  • Unique RPG Combat
  • Unified Aesthetics
  • Several Bugs
  • Overly Linear Story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>