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PS4 (PSVR) Game Review

Spuds Unearthed


Format: PS4 (PSVR)
Publisher: Gamedust
Developer: Gamedust
RRP: £7.99
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Age Restrictions: 7+
Release Date: 23 April 2020

Spuds are potato-like creatures who love a good fight. The game will take you on a journey to different planets to conquer and set the Spuds free. Among their ranks, you will find new heroes who will join your cause and help restore life on your planet. You will learn to create bizarre weapons to fend off the dangers lurking in the galaxy. With the help of crafted weapons, your Spuds will be able to return home unharmed. You will literally throw everything you have at the enemies. Other players will establish their own Spud tribes. Regular Spuds are not particularly loyal, so if you lose a battle, they will simply abandon you and relocate to your opponent’s planet...

Review imageSpuds Unearthed is a VR title for the PS4. It was originally available for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. I'm not sure whether the PSVR version is vastly different, but the online videos for the original seem a little more complex - especially in the crafting of the characters and weapons. As well as having the PSVR kit (obviously) you'll also need a set of move controllers as the game isn't compatible with the standard controller.

I really wanted to like this game. Spuds Unearthed misses greatness by a gnat's whisker. When you first fire it up it looks the business, with large, colourful scenery and characters. Sadly, as you start to play through the levels, you soon realise how painfully shallow it actually is. A tutorial is offered by means of a series of boxes of text that flash up on the screen whenever you press the triangle button on the right controller. But to be honest this was a little confusing. In fact I was quite a way through the game before I realised I could extend my hands to reach further into the screen. This is reset (along with your height) every time you go into battle and every time you go back to the village. Why on earth these two elements weren't saved is baffling. Having to adjust your height and your arm lengths as the battle starts is most annoying.

You start with one hero spud (a gunner), who you place in one of the three slots in front of you and then place your palm on the hand scanner (which for some inexplicable reason has a guard that you must first lift up). This sends you heading down to the control room of your space ship. Here there are various planets floating in front of you and you can grab them, examine them and decide whether you want to travel to that world and save the potatoes on that planet.

Review imageWhen you've chosen the planet you want to visit, you simply push on the two controllers in front of you and off you head into space. The planet is where battle commences. You have two weapons in front of you and three floating bases in the middle of the play area. One to the left, one to the right and one in the middle. Your enemy sends its soldiers at you and you have to defeat them using your weapons. You also have an army of blue chip-shaped bots that are constantly being released in waves. All you have to do is help them take control of each base. One of the issues here is that a colour scheme should have been better thought through. While the enemy vehicles are red and yours are green (tank / plane) the army of enemy potatoes are green. While this isn't really a huge problem (as your army are blue) it gets a little bit messy. And god help anyone who is red/green colourblind.

To help you you can pick up and throw your hero potato (there's space for three different ones once you find more). When it lands it protects that area against the enemy... for a little while, before heading back to you, self-healing, after which it's ready once again for you to throw into the battlefield.

If you manage to destroy the three main bases, then your blue chips will rush to the main enemy building, overrunning it and after a short while you'll win the level... or you'll be overwhelmed by the enemy before you can do any of the above, in which case you lose. Then you're back at the potato village to start the process all over again.

For the first few goes, the game is incredibly good fun. It looks great and plays well too. But that novelty soon wears off. To keep you a little interested, some of the battles give you the chance to win two types of tokens. The first allows you to upgrade the weapons. Both the ammunition type, as well as the way each gun works, can be upgraded. You start of with a gun you have to hand crank (which is pretty hard to get used to) but as you unlock other elements you can simply pull a chord at the back of the gun and it will auto target the enemy or pick up and fire a revolver.

Review imageYou can alter each of the two guns to offer two different playing styles (if you so desire). However, the truth is that you'll pretty quickly learn which is the best gun and ammo to use.

The other tokens you can collect allow you to upgrade your potato heroes. As you progress through the game you'll rescue new ones (there are 5 in total - gunner; shield; flamethrower, pilot, tank). But, in all honesty it doesn't seem to matter how much you upgrade them, they still seem to inflict the same amount of damage and stay on the battlefield for the same length of time.

Another annoying aspect is that the planets you can visit are graded easy, medium and hard. But there's no real difference in difficulty. Hard may take you a little longer to complete, but it's not really hard. In fact once I'd mastered the controls and worked out what I was doing, I didn't lose a single battle.

Once you complete a set amount of planets you are given the choice to warp to another universe. But the variety of the planets and the environments of the levels just rotates through a handful of different styles.

The game ends up feeling very unfinished. There's massive potential here, but it feels like the developers just got to the point where it looked promising and then just looped everything. I think the idea is that you're supposed to just keep going until you get bored; trying to save as many potatoes as possible.

Review imageI collected all the upgrades for the weapons and found all the hero potatoes in an afternoon... after that, there wasn't much left to keep me playing. It was a cert that I'd win every battle, but there was no reward... no further progression. You can't even start a new game as the gameplay seems to save as you progress. If you want to quit you just have go back to the Playstation's main menu, or power it down.

It really is a crying shame. Everything is here to make this a must buy game. It's fun (and funny), the graphics and environments are well designed. It's just that someone forgot to add longevity into the mix. At most you'll get an entire afternoon's worth of fun out of it.


Darren Rea

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