Snake? Snake? Snaaaaaaaaake! Those are words you won’t hear during Espire 2, but this stealth-heavy VR game has big Metal Gear Solid energy.
Taking control of an Espire robot, you sneak around a gloomy complex, dodging guards, hacking cameras and, when the mood takes you, shoving people into lockers. There’s also a healthy dose of intrigue, too. We’ve not played the original but we figured out pretty quickly that something shady was going on.
Like Metal Gear Solid, Espire 2 gives you a degree of freedom, falling somewhere between Hitman’s open stages and the original Splinter Cell‘s chunked-off levels. You can try gunning down foes and you may well have to on occasion, but it’s stealth that’s the order of the day. And, in VR, all that sneakery is an awful lot of fun.
Yes, you can play it sitting down but, accessibility issues aside, we’d recommend you tackle Espire 2 in roomscale mode. Peeking around boxes never gets old, nor does clambering up ladders using a left-hand, right-hand movement. We were surprised, and a little shocked, to discover that guards actually do notice cameras going out, and will investigate.
Tranquilising them is an option, but lurking behind cover is so, so satisfying in VR. Most of Espire 2‘s actions have a degree of physicality to them: tranquilise someone by turning your right arm into a gun; repair yourself by yanking out a tool; put your hand near your head to activate night vision, and so on.
That might seem like a little thing, but it definitely boosts this sneak ’em up’s atmosphere. We’ve resisted the urge to commando crawl so far, but give it time. Speaking of atmosphere, even though it takes place in the future, Espire 2 has a real Cold War mood, with grey missile silos, suspiciously large vents and more. Even if you haven’t played Metal Gear Solid you’ll find it impossible not to be drawn in. We didn’t dabble in co-op, but if you can get two players involved, you could be in for a treat.
Aside from all the gadgets, being a remote operator means you can switch to another Esper model, Paradroid/Metal Arms style. It’s one of several smart gameplay mechanics that made us enjoy our time with Esper 2.
The one thing that did risk taking us out of the game was our robotic protagonist’s clunking feet. No, we’re not kidding. It’s not so much that they were distracting us; what bothered us most was that the guards didn’t pick up on the noise we made just walking about. They reacted as if we were a human protagonist with normal feet. So they’d hear us if we got close enough or made some other noise. But it was odd seeing them ignore the clank-clank-clank as we roamed the complex.
That oddity aside, we had a real blast with Espire 2 and if you’ve an interest in sneaking or robot-related intrigue you should dive into its Metal Gear-style world.
Espire 2 is out now for Meta Quest and Meta Quest 2, available from the Meta Store priced at £22.99. The original, Espire 1: VR Operative, is available on Quest and PC VR.