We live The American Dream in VR – The FingerGuns Review;
Guns Guns Guns, it’s away of life according to America’s National Rifle Association and Samurai Punk does it’s best to parody the dire situation with a bizzaro VR Game The American Dream.
You start the game in a small cart as you begin a surreal journey through an alternate reality of America where guns are the only way of life. No, not just for recreation but for everyday tasks too. The ride is presented by the fictional American Rifle Association as a celebration of the second amendment. You begin your journey in the shoes of a baby which doubles as a tutorial. As the ride continues you’ll go through all the stages of life, from child to teenager to adult. This means you’ll need to use your trusty pistols to carry out everyday tasks from changing nappies, flipping burgers, dating, hairdressing, sexual encounters and pretty much every milestone in life that you can think of. It’s really quite bizarre.
Of course, you’re not really shooting babies and having sex with guns. It’s all quite safe as all interactions are with animated cardboard cutouts. It’s kind of like an interactive story driven firing range, for want of a better description. Throughout your journey, Samurai Punk pokes fun at guns and gun culture in general, with most of the dialogue narrated by one of those cliched 50’s voice over guys. Its story filled with the kind of humour that you’ll find in GTA games, but not quite as subtle and at times things got a little too dark for my liking. For example, In the tutorial, you’re eating baby food from the barrel of a gun as your cardboard mother stands there smiling, or you could be on a dinner date, which takes a disturbing twist by turning into a game of Russian Roulette.
It was these situations that made me feel a little uneasy playing American Dream. These feelings were increased ten-fold thanks to the solid and realistic shooting mechanics. You see, being in VR, by its very nature things just seem a little more real. The pistols that are always attached to your hand makes shooting targets as easy as pointing and pulling the trigger. Reloading, especially the rifle all happen with satisfying clicks, and slides. I was a little alarmed at how real it felt.
Most of the mechanics are solid though, as you point your Move, the onscreen translation of your guns, for the most part, is spot on and follows your position accurately with X, Y, And Z axis all covered. There are a variety of guns for you to purchase too. Each new weapon is lavishly presented in a pristine box while the narrator rattles on about the history of such weapon. Two-handed rifles require you to use both hands. Hold the Move controllers in the position you would as if you were holding a real gun. look down the scope and squeeze the trigger. At times it made for some uncomfortable playing experience. Granted the only targets in the game are cardboard cutouts, but leaning out of your bedroom window, peering down the scope of your gun to pick off a target has the feels of Lee Harvey Oswald. The further you progress on this ride the more edgier and uncomfortable I began to feel, it feels like some kind of weird super violent sketch from Monty Python.
On the flip side, however, the game is at times quite funny, and the imagination used to make guns the solution to every problem in life is quite something. There are some demographic type questionnaires you have to answer from time to time but the results didn’t seem to affect the game much at all, still, at least you have the choice to be a man, woman, gay or straight which can’t be a bad thing.
The American Dream is a funny game to review. While I was playing I enjoyed the game in the sense that the shooting mechanics were solid, and the 50’s themed park ride and the cheesy 50’s voice all made it quite an enjoyable game, but I couldn’t shake this ever-present darkness that hovered just below the surface. And that kind of broke the experience for me.
The game isn’t without its technical faults either. For the most part, the gunplay is exceptional, with the shooting feeling solid. The game encourages you to look down the sites of the gun to hit a target, this never really works however with shots missing the target by a wide margin no matter how convinced you are that everything is lined up. This can be rectified by aiming up slightly but I guess that’s missing the point. The two-handed weapons are the worst though, with the PSVR having real trouble detecting where your hands are. I’m guessing this is because one of the Move controllers is in front of the headset which causes it to melt down. But when it does work, you can peer down the sites of your gun with unnerving accuracy.
Samurai Punk’s journey into American gun culture is almost too real, the timing, especially as America, is currently tearing itself apart with gun debates. I guess that can’t be helped but that doesn’t stop the game form making you see and do terrible things. If this was a game played on mobile or even just on TV it might not have the same effect, in fact, it would be downright funny. Like an episode of Family Guy funny, but in VR it’s been given a new dimension which I just don’t quite feel comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong I’m no prude, I’ll shoot the shit out of any would be fool who snipes me GTA V but the added dimension just doesn’t sit right with me. Obviously, not everyone feels the same, maybe I’m just too passive but for those who don’t will certainly find a fun game that has some solid shooting mechanics and a weird and off the wall story to keep you entertained.
The American Dream is a game that could be seen as quite divisive when you consider the current climate. It’s definitely a weird thing that does its best at poking fun at America and it’s gun culture. However going forward this is certainly not going to provide any answers for the gun debate, no matter how satirical it may be.
The American Dream is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro with a V1 PlayStation VR), and PC
Developer: Samurai Punk
Publishers: Samurai Punk
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we received a review copy from the publishers. Please see our review policy for more information.