Sword Master VR brings intense sword fighting to you in a game experience that will have you breathing hard as you fight your way out of hell. You’ll be slashing and slicing in every direction to defeat the waves of gigantic sword wielding beasts as skeletons cheer from the sideline.
We put it it to the test in our offices so you can decide to add it to your calorie torching fitness routine or skip it for something less ghastly.
Available on Steam and works on Oculus and Vive with tracked motion controllers. We tested it on the Vive.
In my 20 minute workout test, I wore a Wahoo heart rate monitor strapped around my chest, connected to my an iPhone app. I started the app and started the game, so you can ignore about a minute of tracking in the screenshot.
- Calories burned: 263 (789/hour)
- Average heart rate: 130 bpm (72% of my max heart rate)
- Max heart rate: 156 bpm (86% of max heart rate)
You can see from the graph that the intensity increased throughout the experience and peaked right before I took the headset off (after two extra monstrous soldiers sliced me to pieces).
This was a very intense experience and other than a few seconds to restart a level after winning or losing, the intensity was very steady.
Tips for increasing intensity:
- Whenever there is a lull in the action (which is rare), jog in place to keep your heart rate up.
- No little poking and arm waving allowed. Slice and jab as hard and as fast as you can! You’re fighting in hell. Act like it! But make sure nobody is around and your area is clear. You can seriously break yourself, your furniture, or the neighbor kid if he got in your way.
- Don’t use the shield or don’t rely on it. Duck to avoid blows or jump out of the way. Holding your shield up is pretty lazy, even if it is more effective for staying alive.
Arms – 9/10
Your arms will be getting the bulk of the workout, obviously, since you are waving them around like a mad man to save your neck. After 20 minutes, I sat down to start write this review and I had to take a break because just holding my arms up to the keyboard was difficult.
Holding up the shield with your other arm does start to tire you out, but I recommend switching the sword between hands (just change controllers) every few minutes to even it out. Nobody likes a lopsided body.
Leg – 5/10
If you follow my tip above and duck and jump to avoid getting slashed, your legs will definitely be tired by the end of your session.
Core and Balance – 7/10
Ducking, jumping, and turning around in every direction will definitely test your balance and agility. Ducking to avoid blows will help activate your core muscles.
Time Perception – 7/10
Nobody wants a workout to feel like it lasts forever. In Sword Master VR, the time went by very quickly. It’s hard to think about the clock when two ten foot sword fighters are trying to decapitate you. The pace of the game is very quick and my 20 minutes felt like 12 – 15 minutes at the most.
Pain and Effort Perception – 7/10
Another great thing about an immersive VR workout is that you focus on the task at hand instead of the burning sensation in your arms or lungs. I definitely felt like I was giving a lot of effort, but I enjoyed it. I was giving 9/10 effort but felt like it was 7/10. Awesome. The more immersive an experience and the more focused you are on winning or surviving, the less you will notice any pain or exertion. I was definitely lost in the game world.
Replayability – 8/10
I didn’t make it through all of the levels, but this is the type game you can just jump in and play any time. I imagine that after an hour or so of straight play, you’d start to get bored. But if you want to jump in for 10-20 minutes a few times a week as part of your fitness routine (along with a few other games each day), it will always be exciting. Hopefully they open up more game modes, levels, and bad guys to defeat to mix it up.
Fitness Scalability – 7/10
Once you become very fit, will this game still challenge you? I think so. There are a lot of ways to increase the intensity, as I mentioned above, like jogging in place instead of standing, and moving your arms more quickly and slashing with more effort. If you aren’t burning enough calories, jog faster or do high knees while fighting, and add some squat jumps as you are doing all you can to save your internal organs from a sword puncture.
Minimal Pauses in the Action – 10/10
How often do you have to fiddle with menus for starting and stopping each experience? How much downtime is there? Luckily, the menus are very quick and straightforward. Once you end a round, you can literally be back in the action in 15 – 30 seconds. Jog in place during that period to keep your heart rate up and you won’t be staring into the abyss and wasting your time.
Enjoyment – 8/10
How can you not love sword fighting in VR? It’s a very natural thing to do and as you get better you start to feel like a real badass. Yes, you just stabbed the guy in front of you and did a 180 turn to slash the one that appeared behind you. You should be a film action star!
Lack of Nausea – 9/10
Since there is literally no locomotion in this game (you are on a platform the size of your play area), you shouldn’t feel sick at all. The game performed well and I didn’t notice any lag at any time. Zero nausea or dizziness for me.
Social and Competition – 2/10
Unless I’m missing it, I didn’t see any ability to see your performance on a leaderboard or compete/co-op with friends. Of course, you could take turns and see who can pass a difficult level, but that’s about it.
Virtual Fitness Insider’s VR FIT SCORE – 9/10
For a cardio blasting, arm burning workout, you can’t ask for much more than Sword Master VR offers! You’ll burn calories while the time quickly passes, helping you to get fit faster than you can on any boring treadmill… unless that treadmill comes to life, grows arms, grabs a sword, takes you to hell and then tries to remove all of your extremities.
Buy it, play it, and then look and feel better in real life.