Don’t let the cartoon visuals fool you, this asymmetrical gaming experience is surprisingly in-depth.
Available today on Oculus and SteamVR, Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! is an asymmetrical cross-platform VR party game developed by Resolution Games in which one user in VR battles against a team of opposing players controlled via iOS and Android smart devices.
Playing the role of an ancient tree tasked with defending the sacred golden acorns, VR players can use their motion controllers to slow down and even knock-out enemy players using a variety of special projectiles. This includes everything from powerful boulders that explode on contact with one another, giant wood chunks, and sticky sap balls which can slow down the movement of enemy players. VR users can even grab any players that venture too close and huck them across the battlefield—or, if you’re a sociopath, toss them into a deadly river.
Meanwhile, a team of 2-8 squirrels will be using every resource at their disposal to navigate themselves around the danger and return any stolen acorns to their home base. At launch, Acron offers access to four classes of squirrels, each of which features their own unique abilities and personality traits.
You’re standard ‘Tank’-style character, Chunk is a hefty rodent equipped with a large shield capable of deflecting any projectiles thrown by the ancient tree. While the shield tool is exclusive to this particular character, other players can use Chunk as human cover as they progress deeper into the fight. Considerably-less bulky than Chunk, Zip is a fast-moving squirrel capable of avoiding incoming projectiles with her speed running ability. With the right timing and control, players operating Zip will find success in utilizing her fellow teammates’ abilities to their advantage.
Then there’s Doug, a disheveled rodent who puts his anger management issues to good use by building long tunnels beneath the battlefield, allowing him and his teammates to sneak up close to the acorns undetected. Finally, we have Sim, a tiny little guy capable of building vertical wooden ramps that allow him and his team to bypass environmental hazards scattered across the battlefield.
On the surface, Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! looks like your average multiplayer mobile game, especially from the smartphone players’ perspectives. As you dive deeper into the mechanics, however, you’ll discover a rich, complex experience in which players can employ carefully-crafted strategies that play off the special abilities of each character.
Much like a team of superheroes combining their powers for a ‘special attack,’ players who communicate effectively can combine their abilities for a greater advantage on the battlefield. While playing several matches against Resolution Games, I saw members of the team—experts in their own game—attempting a variety of unique maneuvers. During one round, in which I played the tree, an opposing player built a ramp above my barrier of sticky sap, thereby allowing another player in the role of Zip to capture my acorn before using her running ability to escape with relative ease.
There’s also a variety of environmental elements that can be incorporated into your strategy, including temporary plant-based cover, as well as changing environments—such as rivers that flood and dry out periodically throughout the round. There’s even a ‘taunt’ option that offers squirrel players the chance to distract the VR player; a useful technique when trying to direct attention away from a fellow teammate.
“So there are mushrooms that anyone can pick up and throw down, and then you use them to jump from,” stated Resolution Games during an interview with VRScout. “It works like a springboard. There are also bushes—such good hiding, and the pumpkins that you can set up to hide behind. They work a little bit like a stationary shield. You put them in place so you can take cover behind them.”
Meanwhile, players in the role of the ancient tree can combine the various projectiles at their disposal to create a gauntlet of effective obstacles in which to slow enemy players down. As previously stated, boulders tossed onto the battlefield will explode on contact with one another. This allows VR players to set traps throughout the environment by planting stones near pathways and triggering them to explode when an enemy player comes to close. Personally, I found the most success in layering the base of my trunk with as many sap balls as I could find, thereby creating a sort of sticky barricade between my acorns and enemy players.
Where Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! truly shines, however, is in its accessibility. The experience requires only a single VR headset to play, immediately putting it ahead of various other VR party games that are reliant on multiple expensive headsets. The only other technology required to operate is at least two compatible smartphones and a stable WiFi connection. Friends can play locally or remotely by simply logging in to the same server using a custom room code generated by the VR player. Players can also add in up to 6 AI bots to play against, with friends able to hop into ongoing matches at any time.
Acron is a must-have for anyone looking to entertain groups of people without headsets of their own. Anyone with a smartphone is able to participate in the fun without paying a dime, opening up a near-infinite player pool of both gamers and nongamers alike. This is especially true for those using an Oculus Quest, as they’re able to bring the entire VR experience with them much more easily compared to bulky PC VR headsets.
“Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! takes VR outside of the headset like never before,” said Tommy Palm, co-founder and CEO of Resolution Games, in an official release. “It’s at its best when played as a couch party game together with a bunch of friends and is an ideal addition to your game nights — whether at home or tossing your Oculus Quest in your backpack and taking it to a friend’s place. And it’s really the perfect game for introducing newcomers to VR, because it’s easy to pick up and everyone can participate at the same time.”
Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! launches today on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift/RiftS, HTC Vive/Vive Pro, Windows Mixed Reality, and Valve Index for a one-time fee of $19.99 via Oculus and SteamVR. Smartphone players can download the free companion app on iOS and Android. Only one copy per headset is needed to play. Acron will feature 6 maps at launch, with additional environments on the way at some point in the future.
Acron marks the eighth release for developer Resolution Games, who in the past have been responsible for such popular titles as Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, Bait!, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, and Narrows, just to name a few.
Featured Image Credit: Resolution Games