After playing Space Pirate Trainer on and off for around two years I was really excited when I saw the trailer for Singularity 5. Like Space Pirate Trainer, Singularity 5 is a VR Wave Shooter with lots of promise. According to the developers, Monochrome Paris, “Each stage has been carefully crafted up to the last detail, a subtle blend of modernity and classicism, like a mid-21st century Paris. The experience also includes multiple animation styles and special effects that reinforce the sense of immersion and presence while participating in a storytelling.”
So far so good, but the problem with this game is its premise, “Your mission is to advance through the 5 levels of the game by destroying all the Artificials and ultimately disconnect the Goddess, the temple of Moore.” Honestly, for a game set in the year 2050 (only 30 years from now) it’s pretty hard to see some AI Goddess taking over the world. Not only that, but with it being a wave shooter you’d expect to see more than a measly 5 levels.
While the art direction and level design of Singularity 5 seems quite beautiful at first look, there’s a massive disconnect when actually playing the game. You can see that their team of 3D modelers were skilled in their craft, but it falls apart with the shockingly bad animations, poor AI and limitation of only 5 different enemies. Take this for an example, you see an enemy coming towards you, it looks like a futuristic Paris/Art inspired Portal Turret, but the second it comes it for attack it just stands still, deflates and lunges unconvincingly towards you as its attack, while making it impossible to shoot. It’s quite hard to describe just how bad it looks, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Holding the weapons you utilize to defeat these ‘waves’ of enemies feels like putting your hands on your shoulders and holding guns with your elbows. The weapon proportions, accuracy and placement are a far cry from reality, and make the game embarrassingly difficult to play.
The main problem is with how Monochrome Paris interpreted the idea of a “Wave Shooter on Rails”. Let’s take a classic like Time Crisis 2, which I’ve probably spent half of my childhood playing in Arcades. It’s simple, with enemies approaching from the front and you being able to hide behind a crate or wall when needing to take cover from incoming fire. Move on basically a century later to something like Space Pirate Trainer and you have waves of enemies approaching from all around you, with you needing to duck and dive to avoid stray bullets and beams of fire. What makes these two games great is how the enemies interact with you, and how you can use the dynamic of the game to defeat them. Time Crisis, mostly due to the old tech, sets enemies directly in-front of you, with a fire and hide mentality. Space Pirate Trainer puts waves of enemies in a mostly 180 degrees field in front of you, with occasional splitting up of enemies, but still a semi-hive mentality with groups of enemies in clusters to allow you to attack multiple at a time. Singularity 5 on the other hand just randomly places enemies all around you, with almost no logic to their placement or movement making it impossible to properly focus your attack or even attempt to defend yourself.
Giving it some credit, the soundtrack to the game is quite invigorating, being one of the only aspects that keep you entertained. Across the board Singularity 5 feels like an unfinished project, something that’s akin to a university project that should be sitting in “Early Access”. There’s a great concept, and an art style that would encourage anyone with a VR setup to jump straight to purchase, but I can’t in good faith recommend you spend your money on an art project that’s barely a playable game.
Singularity 5 was provided for free via external PR and played on a VR Enabled desktop through Steam.