I’d never heard of Gladiatus when the opportunity to review it came my way, and when I saw that it was a wave-based zombie shooter, my expectations were lowered even further. I kept an open mind, of course.
Plus, I like killing zombies in VR. Saints & Sinners is one of my favorite games of all time – and The Trial, its waved-based mode – is great fun. So did this little App Lab title rise to the occasion, or did it shamble about listlessly? A little bit of both if I’m being honest. Let’s dig in, shall we?
What is Gladiatus?
You play as a contestant in a game show. However, in this game, you don’t win a new car or a trip to the Bahamas. No, this game show is more Running Man than The Price is Right and the host is more Negan from The Walking Dead than Bob Barker.
As the game begins, you find yourself trapped in a shipping container with the host explaining to a live television audience what’s at stake. Namely, your life. I don’t really understand the game’s story, but I’m pretty sure that aliens have taken over the world, and now it’s full of zombies and alien spiders, and despite this, we still can’t stop watching game shows and reality TV. Sad, but not surprising.
This Review is in Partnership with Pure Play TV, the Official YouTube Partner of The Games Cabin
Video Review: Gladiatus Oculus Quest (Pure Play TV)
Learning the ropes
There is a training section that explains the decently robust upgrade portion of the game. Including the many different guns and melee options. As you progress, you’ll collect money to buy new weapons and ammo, meat, to increase your physical stats, and crystals to upgrade the weapons you already own.
These wave-based shooters need a decent progression system, or they’ll get stale real fast. Gladiatus does a good job here. There are a ton of weapons to use. Most of them you’ll need to buy, but some of them you can find laying around the arena, or dropped from the zombies that dropped them. Upgrading them is fun too, but I wished the upgrade crystals were easier to come by. The upgrade to your physical attributes might be more useful. Especially early. Increasing your health, strength, or travel speed is crucial. As I said, I like the progression system, but I would have traded the speed upgrade for a run button.
The physics are not bad
The game features decent physics with the many melee weapons getting caught on the objects in the world. Swinging them to cause actual damage isn’t as fluid as I would have liked, but when you knock a zombie’s arm off with a well-placed swing of a crowbar, or when you sever a zombie head clean with a katana and watch it roll away, it almost makes up for it.
But in the end, there is no substitute for firepower. The guns are more fun, if only because no one has mastered the feel of swinging a real weapon with nothing in your hand but a near weightless piece of plastic. You’ll find a vast collection of pistols, smg’s, rifles, shotguns, and more. You can akimbo all of these or carry a gun in one hand and a melee weapon in the other. The only problem with carrying a firearm in your left hand is you’ll need to stop moving while you reload as you have to take your thumb off of the thumbstick to press the reload button.
Weapons and enemies
And while there are a lot of weapons to choose from, this pales in comparison to the number of enemies you’ll face. The first few rounds will consist of different forms of zombies. Some of them shamble, while others run. Some of them will have helmets and even body armor on. Some of them will still be carrying riot shields or guns that they don’t quite remember how to use but will still mess you up if you catch a stray bullet.
The running zombie clowns will erupt into confetti when you blast them and the glowing scientists in hazmat suits will burst into green globs of radioactive goo when they pop. After certain rounds, you’ll have to deal with bosses, while the game’s announcer expresses his surprise that you’re still alive and the crowd cheers you on. Or maybe they’re rooting for your death. I’m assuming it’s a little of both. I’m usually running for my life so I can barely hear them.
Art style and Conclusion
The art style reminds me of the original Crisis VRgade, which works pretty well in VR. I usually prefer a more realistic aesthetic, but when alien spiders are crawling out of the ground and jumping around, the less realistic the better. I don’t like spiders and I’m not afraid to admit it.
While Gladiatus is just another zombie wave shooter from a one-man developer, it manages to surprise in more ways than one. The main survival mode has been done a million times, and while it’s good, there is better. But my favorite part of the game is the challenge mode.
Here, you can choose twin double-barrel shotguns, or two katanas, or even a giant rail gun. These aren’t as deep, but the mass amount of carnage you can deploy is the type of end of world scenario I can get behind. This one doesn’t reinvent the wheel. If you don’t like wave shooters or killing zombies, feel free to skip this one. But if you don’t mind this style of carnage, it’s cheap enough to give it a shot.
- Decent upgrade system
- Tons of enemy variety, including bosses
- Fun challenge modes
- Only one arena
- Melee isn’t great