With the release of Singularity 5, it might be time for players to clear out a wide open and safe play-space for their VR gear. Utilizing a futurist/haute couture approach in the Unreal Engine to craft a focused, fixed-position wave shooter, Singularity 5 alternates between coolly empyrean architecture and enemy design and frenetic, sweat-inducing shootouts and dodges. It’s a vigorous and somewhat brief experience offered at a discount price, but also feels like an unmistakably smooth and refined product, and a unique VR world to observe for 30 minutes at a time.
To its benefit, narrative is kept to a minimum in Singularity 5, solely relegated to some scrolling text in the first level that tells a generic tale of defeating a self-aware AI in a world now controlled by robots. As you stand on a massive rising circular elevator, the game also introduces you to its basic shooting mechanics featuring two main weapons, with a third to be revealed later. Both of your hands are able to fire, reload, and swap between guns, as well lob or roll grenades, with unlimited ammunition reserves; this simplicity helps to keep things entirely focused on the gunplay and available defensive maneuvers.
The enemies in the game are all slick collapsible robots, seemingly built out of molded porcelain and floral curls of brass and chrome. They range in size, and all of them roll, tumble, soar, and generally flit around in a strangely unsettling insectile manner, making good use of the spacial sound effects in headphones to alert you of their presence and placement. Some of them blast you dead-on with lasers or bullets, but others trigger a sudden rocky growth to appear nearby, which will then need to be cleared away with wide swings of your arms. In certain hectic firefights, distant onlookers might think a player was fighting off nightmare assailants in a mosh-pit.
Singularity 5 features a mere five stages in all, but the challenge ramps up considerably by the second and peaks at the third, even when playing at the lowest difficulty level (a surprisingly recent addition, that). Much like Beat Saber, this results in a game that can present a reasonable workout, and even required removal of the Oculus headset on occasion, to pat down the buildup of sweat. It also requires a fair amount of precision, with certain late-game enemies presenting circular weak spots which can be frustrating to pinpoint using the available guns. Interestingly, one of the weapons features a built-in scope, but attempting to aim down it proved unreliable in most instances, mainly because the pace of the game was inconsiderate to such preparatory methods of engagement.
The soundtrack isn’t bad, but mostly understated techno/trance tunes, which also helps isolate the most important audio cues of incoming threats. One specific enemy type loves rolling directly into the player and exploding (which actually can’t be dodged at all), and the sound they make scraping against the floor grew to the point of paranoid importance. If anything, the numerous explosions in the game make it much harder to deal with a dozen or more robots at once, and the way they blot out useful feedback can be admittedly distracting.
While five levels doesn’t sound like it would take a lot of time, and Singularity 5 can be completed in just under an hour, this is definitely the type of game meant to trigger the habits of high-score hunters. A score multiplier always hovers near the frame of vision, and successfully avoiding damage and landing hits will keep it boiling around the x8 mark. There’s also a pat-your-head-and-rub-your-tummy quality to having to juggle so many different enemy types at once — the end-boss is a true final exam in this vein, a frantic combat scenario that furiously tosses everything and the kitchen sink at you. The dodging itself is sometimes reminiscent of the same mechanic in the sublime Superhot VR version, and getting comfortable with moving your body like Neo in The Matrix while constantly firing to stem the enemy horde is exactly what Singularity 5 expects from you.
It’s worth mentioning that some players might find the mechanized environments and enemies a little clinical, even antiseptic; the robots certainly look unique, but their glossy faceless visages also don’t carry a lot of personality besides. No, the most stimulating contrast lies in how the environmental tranquility is disrupted with gunfire and grenades, which is engaging enough throughout a given session of play. Truly, the game can be so relentless that it feels crucial to take a breather to appreciate a good win, especially in the latter half of the game where there’s rarely a moment of downtime.
Shooting galleries and wave shooters on VR platforms seem a little dime-a-dozen by this point, but Singularity 5’s peerless visual approach and intensity make it stand out from the pack. It’s definitely that most obvious of VR game recommendations, being the kind that friends will want to show off to their guests, and its style presents a welcome change of pace from the increasingly homogenized and low-fi look of many other wave-shooters. While a little more content or a few more weapons and sequences would sweeten the package even further, Singularity 5positions proudly as a budget-priced VR game that will put challenge-seekers through their paces, even on easy mode.
Singularity 5 is out now for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and WMR. A digital copy for Oculus Rift was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.