Holopoint Oculus Edition VR Game Review: The Ultimate Archery Challenge!

Holopoint Quest VR Game Review

Holopoint Oculus Edition is the name given by developer Alzan Studios to its mobile port of the legendary Steam, PC VR classic workout game Holopoint. When this game released way back in 2016 it was something of a pioneer. For example, it boasted a true 360-degree room-scale environment at a time when Oculus Rift users could play forward-facing games only. Along with Ian Fitz’s The Thrill of the Fight, Holopoint was the other great room-scale title that persuaded me I needed to buy an external sensor for my Rift, and install Steam so that I could try ‘proper’ virtual reality out.

Of course, being a full room-scale title means absolutely nothing in 2020 when practically all games offer this. Nonetheless, I felt surprisingly nostalgic when I loaded this game up. It didn’t quite take me back to my childhood of course, but it did take me back to the very beginning of my VR playing days, which already seems a rather long time ago.

Newcomers to this title won’t likely be impressed by the game’s rudimentary bare-bones feel, it looked primitive and simple even back in 2016, but Holopoint didn’t create its legend, and legendary it indeed is, just for being the first room-scale VR archery title. No, this game earned its respect by providing the player with a physical challenge that was equal to even The Thrill of The Fight. And whereas TOTF was the ultimate arm and shoulder workout, Holopoint could rightfully lay claim to being the destroyer of legs, concealing within its simple shoot and duck mechanics a VR workout that for sheer intensity, to my mind has still yet to be equaled.

I’m happy to report that this intensity and playability translates perfectly to the Oculus Quest. In fact, thanks to the Quest’s full wireless capability I would argue that just as with the Thrill of the Fight, this Quest port is now the definitive version of the game, and the only way to play it. As much as I enjoyed Holopoint in 2017, I quickly stopped playing it because it ruined my cable, it becoming so kinked and crooked that my Rift started experiencing blackouts and I needed a cable replacement. A ceiling cable mounted setup could help of course, but having several meters of cords suspended from your living room ceiling is hardly aesthetically appealing, and the chances are high that even if the player is happy to go that trouble, their partner or parents are most certainly not. This then is a game made for the Oculus Quest, a title that matches the headset’s capabilities perfectly. I should also add, that for those concerned the inside out tracking might be a problem when aiming close to the headset, I encountered no problems at all. This is still a basic title, but it’s a great port.

Anyway let’s get started with the playtest. I’ll quickly summarize the game mechanics and then we’ll begin.

Simple in gameplay, incredibly challenging in execution.

The gameplay mechanics could not be any simpler. You stand in a dojo armed only with a bow. Hologrammatic enemies appear and you must shoot them with arrows to destroy them. However, when hit, each enemy emits an energy particle targeted straight at your headset. I feel physicists would appreciate this as very elementary teaching of nuclear fission and the splitting of the atom.  A fired arrow represents a bunch of neutrons and the enemy holograms are comprised of Uranium-235 atoms, the neutron arrows causing them to split apart on impact releasing further neutrons and a lot of energy. I’m not sure of course as to whether the developer actually had this clever subtext in mind, but its the explanation I have deduced to help me make sense as to why I’m being attacked by rotating cubes made out of light.

This being a wave-based shooter, you have to kill everything in the level, and then you’ll face the next wave. There are 30 waves in total, which may not sound a lot, but I kid you not when I say I feel even Legolas would struggle to make it through to the end.

This game is a physical challenge.

Preparation

Like Ninja Legends, another great melee/archery wave combat based game, Holopoint requires you to turn and shoot constantly in all directions. You will need to make sure you have space to play safely. Don’t think your glass table or television is safe from harm just because it’s behind you. There is no forward-facing direction in this game, enemies come from everywhere. If you can, follow my example below and clear a large play area so you can enjoy safely.

Sweat proofing your headset is also a necessity for this game. A silicone cover or replacement interface and faux leather or cloth cover from VRCover is strongly recommended.  I’d also recommend doing some stretches for your hamstrings before. There is a lot of squatting in this game and you’ll want your legs to be prepared!

I recorded my playtest on a Fitbit Charge 2.

This game requires a lot of room so if you can, move sofas and tables out of harm’s way as I’ve done here in order to maximize your enjoyment of the game and reduce the risk of breaking anything.

Intensity 9.5/10

  • Calories burned: 110 (440 per hour)
  • Calories per minute: 7
  • Average heart rate: 144
  • Max heart rate: 167
  • Steps:1176 (4700 per hour)
  • Active Minutes: 15

This game is incredibly intense! So much so that my thirty-minute playtest had to be abandoned after 15 minutes because I pulled my hamstring and was in too much pain to continue! Even in that short space of time I got my heart rate up as high as 167 and was burning 7 calories a minute.

Make no mistake this is right up there with The Thrill of the Fight and the new FitXR as one of the most intense fitness games available for VR. Being wireless allows the user to turn a lot more quickly and freely than in the PC VR version and as a consequence, I’d say you can work even harder in the Quest version.

I did intend to take some video footage after I’d completed my playtest, but an arrow to the knee pulled hamstring prevented me from continuing. VR streamer GamerTag put up an excellent Livestream on YouTube, however, which I’ve linked to below, and that really gives a great overview of what the game offers, and just how physically active it is.

Arms 8/10

As with all archery titles, Holopoint will certainly work your arm and shoulder muscles. Being a simple wave-based shooter the action is relentless meaning you will be firing continuously without pause, and thus increasing the effectiveness of the workout. As with all archery titles, however, the arm workout is not ambidextrous, you will most likely only ever hold the bow in your dominant hand, and fire with the other. This means that one arm receives more of a workout than the other. If you want to ensure you work both arms equally you can change the hand in which you hold the bow, but most users are unlikely to do that.

Legs 10/10

This game will destroy your legs, and you will need to become a squatting king to make it through all 30 waves. Although games like BoxVR/FitXR and to a lesser extent Beat Saber feature obstacles to squat under, it’s nothing like the intensity you get in Holopoint. In those games, squatting occurs at just a few moments during a workout whereas here it’s relentless after every hit. The other key difference is that squats in FitXR and Beat Saber are controlled. You see them approaching and you squat with good form. In Holopoint you are often caught off guard by an exploding orb that you hadn’t noticed until the last second, forcing you to duck on instinct, and this kind of rapid reaction response can be very hard on your thighs and joints. If you’re younger and fit you may not feel it so much, but if like me you’re into your late forties or beyond, you could find the game demands more of you than you can give, especially to get to the higher waves.

Early enemies are fairly abstract, represented by hologrammatic cubes.

Core and Balance 9/10

This game requires lightning reflexes, snake-like agility, and will have you bouncing up and down from the floor more often than Joe Frazier against George Foreman. All of this will fully stress your core and ensure you get an excellent workout of your stabilizing muscles. As with the stress placed on your legs, however, I would urge caution to older, or more out of shape users. The game does get very frantic, very quickly and it would be easy to pull a muscle or put your back out if you go harder than your capable of.

Time Perception 7/10

This is a high-intensity game designed to be played in short bursts. You are unlikely to be playing this for more than twenty or thirty minutes at a time, and you’ll be sweating profusely after ten. The game is addictive and the challenge of completing waves to make it to the next checkpoint is considerably rewarding, in large part precisely because of the physical effort involved. But it’s not a game that you will be playing for long periods.

Replayability 7/10

Holopoint offers a very basic, bare-bones experience. It’s a wave-based archery shooter that in terms of gameplay sophistication is the equivalent of Pac Man or Space Invaders. However, if you love archery games and enjoy a physical challenge you will definitely get a lot of fun out of this game. This is a game for players who want to be physically pushed. Non-active gamers will hate this but I feel this sets the standard for archery expertise. Unless you have completed all 30 levels on Holopoint you cannot lay claim to being the ultimate VR archery warrior. If you think you’re an elven assassin because your great at that titular game or you have created the ultimate stealth Breton archer on Skyrim, come bring your skills to Holopoint and you’ll quickly learn if you’re any good or not. The replayability comes from the magnitude of the challenge, and being able to cross this game off as completed will be a proud moment for dedicated players.

As you progress enemies take on a more recognizable form, here a charging Samurai attacks.

Fitness Scalability 4/10

Holopoint is an intense game and that’s just the way it is.  There are no skill levels, no easy mode, and certainly, no squats removed mode. Obviously archery accuracy and shooting skills matter but ultimately you’ll only be able to advance through this game provided you’re up to the physical challenge of doing it. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this game to somebody just starting out on their VR fitness journey or who is out of shape and has any knee or hip conditions.

But for healthy and active players or players who want to really improve their fitness this game offers a real challenge.

Lack of Nausea 8/10

When scoring this category we are generally referring to motion-induced nausea, which games that involve artificial movement can often bring about in susceptible people. This game has no artificial locomotion at all so you will not experience any motion sickness at all.

However, the constant ducking, spinning, and firing mechanics that the gameplay requires can result in the player getting quite dizzy and disorientated, so take it easy and stop playing if you start to feel funny.

Social Competition 6/10

The game itself is purely single-player. Its only social aspect consists of the global high score leaderboard. However, like the classic arcade games of yesteryear, the satisfaction gained from climbing the ranks and maybe surpassing their friends is likely to be enough motivation for a lot of players to continue playing for longer than they otherwise would.

These Superhot style ninjas represent a major late-game threat.

VRFI Fit Score 9.5/10

Holopoint Oculus Edition is a fantastic addition to the Quest’s library of fitness-focused games. Being untethered really adds a whole new dimension to the experience compared to the PC VR original, and I feel will quickly become the definitive way to play it.

When I knew I was going to be reviewing this game I wondered how well it would have aged, especially given that Audioshield, another PCVR classic title from the prehistoric age recently given the Quest port treatment didn’t fare well, when compared to the modern giants of the rhythm genre. Holopoint certainly looks basic compared to the best current Quest games, but thankfully its fundamental gameplay mechanics remain as enjoyable and challenging as they ever were, whilst being cord-free feels positively liberating.

For those looking for an intense leg focused bodyweight workout this game has just shot to the very top of the list.

The Good

Incredibly challenging leg and lower body workout

Fast, frenetic action that plays very well

No wires! This is a truly liberating room-scale wave shooter.

The Bad

Graphically and sonically basic, with a barebones feel

No fitness scaleability – if you’re unfit or have bad knees you won’t be able to play

A large playspace required.

Holopoint Oculus Edition is out now for the Oculus Quest


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