Developer / Publisher – XOCUS
Price – US $14.99 / CA $16.99 / EU €14.99 / UK £12.99
Release Date – March 1st, 2023
Input – 2 x Touch Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Roomscale
Store Links – Meta, Steam
Reviewed on – Quest 2
Presentiment of Death fully embraces it’s major inspiration in SUPERHOT, one of VR’s most beloved titles. Unlike SUPERHOT, which had time only moving when you do, Presentiment takes a different approach by having time move at an incredibly slow speed unless you draw back your bow string while an arrow is nocked, at which time moves at a normal pace. While the game advertises itself as a story driven adventure, I’d argue, that it’s much more of a scenario than a narrative as, what I can piece together, you are invading a skyscraper in an effort to shutdown the robots that are in your way. There’s no text to read or cut scenes to watch, just scene after scene where you either survive or die.
The system at play is fairly simple as each of the 14 stages is broken up into 3 or 4 smaller scenarios with each opening up with your bow floating in front of you. Once you grab your bow, the stage begins, enemies appear and you must dispatch them by placing your off-hand near the nock position, pressing trigger to spawn an arrow and pull back to unleash it. As soon as you pull on the bowstring, time speeds up so depending upon the situation, sometimes it’s best to take in your surroundings before acting while others will require immediate reaction. It’s a decent little system and a nice spin on the SUPERHOT formula as not only will you be taking out foes near and far, but have to avoid their incoming melee attacks as well as incoming arrows, axes, spears and more. When things are moving slow you can grab at some of those projectiles and throw the back at the bad guys and as they aren’t your bow, there is no time penalty for returning their lost goods. Dodging is also easy enough as all you need to do is move out of the way so for those that need it, ensuring you have a decent size play area is probably a good idea though in truth, if your archery skills are up to task, you can stay relatively stationary. I will note when weapons flew directly over my head, the collision detection seemed to be a little unfair and I often died thinking I had avoided them when the game decided I hadn’t forcing me to duck a little further than I felt like I needed too, but outside of that, the combat in here worked nearly flawlessly.
For those looking for any sort of depth outside of what I just mentioned, you’ll have to look elsewhere as this really is a bare bones Slow-mo action experience which doesn’t allow for a ton of creative freedom and I found on replaying stages, I typically needed to kill robots in the same order lest I be killed meaning the game comes off as a little more scripted than I would’ve liked. Once I figured out the pattern in a stage, it really came down to my accuracy and dodging skills and soon enough I was breathing through stages and while 1 or 2 held me up for a bit, forcing me to replay a few of the scenarios before I got to the stage that stumped me and if I died again, it never took more than a minute or 2 to get back to where I perished to try again. Even though I did die more than a few times during my run, I still managed to get through all 40+ scenarios in just under an hour and outside of a practice mode I couldn’t play yet as it hadn’t been added to the game, there really isn’t anything else here to sink any time in.
Visually I found Presentiment to be striking as you travel through Openmind Corporations various office spaces, starting off in receptions and making your way up and down through cafeterias, archives, scenic areas with fountains to giant halls with multiple levels and it is quite fun to see what the game is going to throw at you next. The main robots you face are humanoid and near featureless save for their glowing eyes and some dark grey marks on their light grey body and if they aren’t attacking you from a distance, may run, slide or jump in your direction to try and land a hit. Each stage is static and that includes the lighting effects as far as I could tell, but the stationary nature of the game does allow for some nice levels of detail using the minimalist art style and overall, I found the game to be quite striking. A couple more enemy types will show up as the game progresses including a large boss type foe and some flying drones through for the most part it’s just you facing the androids as they come at you from all sides, which is also something I appreciated as I was forced to take in my surroundings at the beginning of each stage to ensure I wasn’t going to get ambushed.
A very slick choice was the use a classical soundtrack for the entirely of the game including scores from Beethoven, Bach, Liszt & Schubert. Every stage has its own specific song and using these piano scores to accompany the action as dodged and ducked weapons flying all around me while unleashing arrow after arrow was a very cool juxtaposition and one where I have to give full style points as I enjoyed this combination throughout my time in the game. That soundtrack can be overpowering at times with 3D audio being here, but somewhat underutilized as the enemies are silent (thanks to the slow motion) save for when weapons flew past my head which was always a cool moment as I heard them whistle by.
I really enjoyed Presentiment of Death as it does fill a void left by the SUPERHOT team never making a follow up to the 1st VR title. It is criminally short and doesn’t offer much for replay but if you are jonesing to feel like a bad ass while taking out robots in slow motion, this does that, and I enjoyed my time in here from start to finish. Given just how short this is, I do think this is overpriced at launch and should probably be a few bucks cheaper, but I have played worse for more and what’s here is refined, just all too brief.
XOCUS provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!