When modern virtual reality (VR) first burst onto the scene with the original Oculus Rift, some of the earliest games to explore the new technology were wave shooters. These games put players in a static position trying to defeat increasing waves of enemy forces. Developer FunnerSoft is seeking to add some new depth to this concept with PlanTechtor.
PlanTechtor seeks to combine the strategic planning of tower defence titles with the fast-paced action of VR wave shooters. The aim is to create a plan to defeat an army of invading robots. This process involves constructing an effective weapon loadout, as well as selecting the correct passive bonuses and special weapon modifications.
The player is perched atop a tower, with the invading forces streaming in below, ready to be shot down with bow and arrow, machine pistols, or bazooka. The tower has a simplistic pseudo-medieval look to it, resembling weathered stone, but the graphics on the surrounding environment have a brightly coloured, cartoonish appearance, with sharp, polygonal edges making them look mismatched from the background. The developer appears to have been aiming for a cartoonish style, but this has unfortunately backfired somewhat and makes PlanTechtor look somewhat primitive.
While the weaponry looks a little ropey, it works well. The bow and arrow is particularly satisfying to use, in common with other VR titles that utilise this mechanic, such as Apex Construct. Each of the weapon types has its own advantages, with certain weapons better at taking out some enemy types than others.
The main gameplay hook in PlanTechtor is the planning stage that occurs before each wave. Players are given the opportunity to augment weapons with certain special abilities; this means extra bonus powers can be added, or special functions added to weapons, such as Fire, Ice, or Lightning enhancements. Players must trade off between these bonuses to figure out which combination will work best in the upcoming level. The game offers advice to the player to assist with the decision making process, giving hints as to the arrangement of the upcoming wave.
Early on, the bonuses are not spectacular, typically limited to one weapon type, such as the Fire modifier being locked to the machine pistols. As the player progresses, new customisation slots are unlocked. These are usually in the form of multipliers; for example, damaging enemies with Fire will cause an increase in damage for the bazooka.
Once selected, those upgrades are locked in until the wave is complete. Should the player fail to finish the wave, they are taken back to the planning screen to the strategy and bonus application can be varied until victory is obtained.
In later levels, the gameplay can become quite frantic, and players will find themselves switching very rapidly between weapon types in order to take down the robots before they breach the tower gates. This process can become frustrating if the player accidentally picks up a weapon with the wrong hand, and players are unlikely to find an easy way to switch weapons between hands. Ambidextrous players will find they have an advantage here.
As with most arcade-style VR games, PlanTechtor has no story to speak of. Robots are invading a castle and the player needs to stop them. Considering that the lead developer previously worked on Guild Wars 2, a game world rich in story and lore, this lack of narrative is a disappointment.
PlanTechtor has 50 levels of content to power through, providing a decent amount of play time. However, for anyone who has previously experiences a VR wave shooter, the game fails to offer anything groundbreaking or remarkable. The planning stage provides a mild twist on the genre, and provides players with a feeling of control that is quite satisfying.
Ultimately, once players are familiar with the planning system, not much is likely to hold their attention. Multiple other titles on the market offer a much more in-depth experience.
The simplistic and clashing graphical style, combined with the slightly dated wave shooter gameplay mark PlanTechtor as a workable, but unremarkable VR title. The game might chew up a few hours for those needing to kill some time in VR, but overall, it is somewhat unimpressive.