Masters of Light Takes A Swing At Gesture-Based Fitness

Masters of Light is a new gesture-based wave shooter that launches today on the Quest platform, courtesy of the developer/publisher duo ALBYON and COVEN.

Offering gameplay that capitalizes on VR’s physicality, Masters of Light puts hand-tracked pseudo-fitness at the heart of this gaming experience. Throughout the roughly two-hour adventure, you will embody an elite cosmic warrior tasked with defeating relentless waves of enemies while rescuing a race of celestial entities.

The game begins by arming players with a few simple gestures with which to wreak interstellar havoc, the core of which is an energy blast released with a punching motion. As the game progresses, new abilities are unlocked, and upgrades to existing powers are earned. Defensive abilities and AOE attacks are also added to the mix, quickly developing into an arsenal that’s initially quite satisfying to use.

In the early game, while the waves of enemies are moderate, the gesture-based system holds up well. The gestures are intuitive and responsive, making dispatching enemies with them an enjoyable enough exercise; and make no mistake, exercise it is. With the main weapon activated via quick, repetitive punching, players will swiftly work up a sweat as they progress through the 36 cosmic levels that make up the game’s campaign.

Unfortunately, as the difficulty increases and the screen fills with enemies, the gestures begin to become finicky. This is particularly true of the ‘snipe’ ability, which is both crucial and unreliable during the later stages. Activating the power at all becomes hit or miss, and targeting specific enemies in the crowd is needlessly challenging. This is thanks in part to an overactive aim-assist system that (literally) doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Despite offering innovative combat mechanics that focus on using hand tracking, Masters of Light is, at its core, an unapologetically simple wave shooter. You stand in place on a floating platform while the action occurs in the 180° in front of you. Leaving a fully interactive 360° play space underutilized feels like a sorely missed opportunity, leaving the game feeling like an experience that would have been more at home in the earliest era of VR gaming’s evolution.

The action is helped along by a driving, ’80s-style sci-fi synthwave soundtrack that keeps the energy high as you punch your way through the void. However, this prominent soundtrack leads to the spatial audio cues often becoming lost in the throng of beats and blasts. As a result, trying to use these cues to navigate combat is clumsy, particularly when facing enemies that force you to play in darkness.

Graphically, Masters of Light plays things safely. The cosmic backdrops are well-wrought but lack either the animus or context to truly ground you in this world. The player simply stands on a star-shaped platform, hovering randomly in the depths of space while blasting golden energy into the abyss. The simple enemy design makes it easy to discern what type of attacker you are facing but doesn’t connect enough to make vanquishing them feel as rewarding as it could have.

Overall, Masters of Light offers some decent`fitness-lite’ gaming that showcases hand tracking controls in an innovative way. However, with a core game loop lifted from 2016 and some frustrating inconsistencies with the controls, it falls a little short of the potential that gesture-based combat offers in VR.

Masters of Light is available now on the Meta Quest platform for $19.99, and a Steam release is “coming soon.”

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