If you’re looking for a relaxing, serene, meditative-like VR experience, you’re not going to be interested in Racket Nx, so you might as well stop reading now. If you are, however, interested in a game that amps all of your senses, has some of the best audio and graphics on the VR landscape, and makes your heart beat out of your chest, keep reading.
I first read about this game on one of our competitor’s websites. However, they didn’t do it nearly the justice this game deserves, so I’ll give it a try.
First off, let’s be clear, this is their first build in Early Access out of a scheduled 4 builds total, and they plan to ship the game in Q4 2017. Having said that, I have never, in the 32 years I’ve been making video games, seen a game so polished to perfection, that they can release it right now and it would be a hit with multiple awards. However, the developer, One Hamsa, is aiming for perfection and multiple modes of game play (which there are 3 already including multiplayer).
Racket Nx is almost identical to the original Tron disc game we saw back from the original move except instead of using discs you’re using a ball and a racket attached to your VR motion-tracked controller. Thanks to the guys at Waves Nx, you can hear everything in full 3D surround sound…and OH MY GOD does it work well, extremely well!
The game takes place in a fully enclosed dome, and your goal is to score as many points as you can by hitting the ball against the hexagonal tiles that light up. Trust me, this sounds a lot easier than it is, especially when you’re playing against other people that really know the game well.
Right now there are two options for single player, a timed game, and a set-based game. Both of which I did horribly at until I started playing multiplayer. In single player you have a certain amount of time to hit the ball against the lit up tiles either in the time allotted, or before the sets are done. It’s a good way to get used to the 3D environment, the “blow your mind” physics and graphics of the ball and dome, as well as learning how to detect where the ball is. It’s a really fun single player game, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the multiplayer experience.
This is where the game really shines. Not only are you in an arena where you can see and talk to the other player, but since there’s no camera on him/her the guys at One Hamsa designed a really cool skeletal version of a human being that’s very true-to-life. When I’m jacked in I honestly felt like they were in the dome with me. The way Racket Nx makes you feel like you’re in another world, playing a sport for your life, is extremely attractive.
It took me four or five back to back games, all against different people, to actually get good. In multiplayer, the first player to get to 100 points wins. During my first couple of matches, the other player got to 100 points in under 3 or 4 minutes…that’s how much I stunk. However, once I learned a few tricks, thanks to the other players, the matches were lasting longer and longer. For instance, depending on how hard you hit the ball will determine how many points you get. If you really give your all, the ball will slide across the dome taking other lit up panels with it. The longer the game progresses, the tiles start moving, getting bigger or smaller, as well as change shapes. You need to keep track of all of this while the game switches from your turn to hit the ball to your opponent’s turn to hit the ball.
Here are a couple of tips to make you a semi-competitive gamer in Racket Nx. First of all, make every single shot count because it could literally mean the difference between you winning and losing. Second, when you hit the ball, there a couple of strategies: 1) while aiming at the lit up tiles (red tiles will deduct points), try and put a spin on the ball by twisting your arm like in tennis or racquetball, 2) since I was never any good at putting spin on the ball I learned that if you hit the ball really hard it has somewhat of the same effect: when the ball hits the dome, it slides across the other tiles next to it. If those tiles are lit up, your score multiplies. By my 5th game, it took my opponent about 15 minutes to beat me because the game kept going back and forth.
The longer the game goes on, the more red tiles emerge which take away four points each. And, if you did one of the tricks I told you above, and your ball skims across multiple red tiles, you could really mess yourself up. However, this is where it gets really interesting. In order to compensate for the red tiles, the developer put in a special power-up, and if you’re lucky enough to hit the power-up tile, you get three or four turns (I forgot to count) where you get all the points on all of the tiles around the tile you hit. Now, if you slam the ball or put a spin on it, your points rack up insanely fast.
After playing the game for well over an hour I realized I had enough to write my article to convince you to buy this game now, while it’s only $20. Sure, there’s a free demo available here, but every time they release a new build, the price will go up slightly. So, if you get in on the action now, by Q4 you won’t have to pay whatever higher price they decide to sell it for (because the price will bump up with every release).
They don’t even have music in the game yet and it’s still at the top of my list of VR games to play!!
For those of you looking to find me in a match, don’t hold your breath. After taking the headset off I remembered about the 4 herniated discs in my back due to crash landing about 50 skydives back in 2005. The irony runs so thick here: this is one of my favorite VR games yet I can’t play competitively because I’ll be in pain for a couple of days due to something else I love doing: skydiving. How’s that for life kicking you in the butt?
The guys at One Hamsa can see Racket Nx becoming an e-sports title very easily due to the competitive nature of the game. I can tell you first hand, if you like being competitive, you’re absolutely going to love this game. I also think they have a solid hit on their hands once it’s released with all the additional features they have planned.
Just in case I didn’t make it obvious enough, here are the links:
Free demo: https://steamdb.info/app/498290/ (no multiplayer)
Steam download page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/428080/
Developer website: https://onehamsa.com/
This game was previewed on an HTC Vive running Windows 7.