Preta: Vendetta Rising

Preta: Vendetta Rising

Written by Eric Hauter on 4/24/2018 for PS4   VR  
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Preta: Vendetta Rising has an interesting history. The game was released on Steam for Oculus and Vive in July 2017, and was quickly pounced upon by players due to some aggressive microtransactions that were considered by the community to be blocking progress. To the great credit of Illion Games, they moved quickly and released a patch, effectively eliminating all microtransactions from the game and lowering the price to $19.99. The Steam reviews seemed to improve at that point, and the game found a small but loyal community.

I know all of this because I did some research on Preta before it released on PS VR two weeks ago. I had to go do some internet digging, because Preta has been utterly and completely ignored by the gaming press. It was difficult to find any additional information on this game at all, beyond the Steam page. This is a real shame, because Preta is super cool. This is a rare game for PS VR, and as such, it deserves to have a moment in the spot light.

The RPG space on PS VR is a barren wasteland, so I was delighted when I saw Preta: Vendetta Rising on the “coming releases” list. Preta is, at its core, a hack-and-slash RPG. But there is a lot more going on under the hood of this game that is only revealed when you dig in and start poking around. There is a depth to this experience that is not typical of a VR title and was therefore unexpected.

The first thing that struck me about Preta was a message that appears upon log-in. Before players even see the title screen, they are greeted with a message from the dev team at Illium announcing that Preta is a work in progress. The message further promises that the team will continue working on Preta and updating the game, adding new content and smoothing out the experience. While I found this message oddly charming, it did serve to lower my expectations for Preta, giving me the feeling that I was about to play an “early access” title.

I needn’t have worried, as the current build of Preta is firing on all cylinders and packs a mountain of content. I have no fear that I will run out of stuff to do any time soon. Preta was clearly designed to be a premium title, and the fact that you can snag this game for 20 bucks makes it a total steal.

Players start out by selecting one of three characters to take into battle. There is a standard hulking warrior type, a female DPS-style fighter with an awesome chain blade, and a cheerful little girl wielding a magic staff who throws around AOE attacks like they were handfuls of popcorn (she is my favorite, and I quickly bailed on the other two, cool as they are). You can switch characters in-between quests after starting the game, but it isn’t advisable. Earned money, gear, and skills do not carry over between characters. This basically means that players can run each character through Preta’s paces, effectively tripling the game’s size for committed players.

After a brief tutorial mission, players are sent to the snow-covered hub town, where a variety of characters are scattered about, each representing various menu options. For example, there is a guy you talk to when you need to pick up missions. There is a guy you talk to when you need to invest some skill points. There is a gear-building guy, a rune-management guy, a pet-care guy, etc. You bounce around this area between missions doing all your standard character maintenance activities, building new gear and investigating which quests will be needed next. The town is fairly spread out, so running between all these dudes to do what could have been accomplished with a menu might be considered a hassle, but I felt that it gave the game a charm it might have been lacking otherwise. I found myself looking forward to running around town, bouncing from guy to guy to see whether the new stuff I earned on my last run could be used to strengthen my character.

Missions are doled out at a steady pace, and while you can replay missions as many times as you like, you can’t move forward to the next mission until you have beaten the previous one. Replaying missions is absolutely necessary, as trying to move forward too quickly will result in Preta handing you your face on a platter. Preta can be extremely challenging, and a lack of constant attention can lead to a sudden (but fair) death.

This challenge is partially due to the combat difficulty, but also can be attributed to the mission structure, which is always tempting the player to push just a little bit further than they might otherwise be comfortable with. Missions all take place within a singular set of levels (more on that in a bit), which are populated by a variety of Pretas (mythical soul-eating monster types). When the player initiates a mission, they are shown one set of primary goals, which are pretty much centered around reaching the end of the level. However, there is a secondary set of goals, which I have come to think of as “stretch goals”. These stretch goals have a wide variety of criteria; everything from completing a level within a specified timeframe to limiting the number of healing potions you use on a run. Many of the top mission rewards are tied to these extended goals, which has the effect of encouraging the player to move faster, think harder, and push deeper.

Combat in Preta somehow manages to be simple and deep at the same time. Each character has a standard attack and three special moves, all of which can be leveled up over the course of the game. My young lady magic user, for example, has a spell that rolls three giant snowballs at enemies (briefly freezing them), a magnetic storm sort of deal (sucks dudes in and delivers massive damage), and a general AOE attack that bursts a certain distance from your character. In order to win a battle, players must be aware of Pretas’ abilities and movement patterns, and then adjust their own position appropriately so their specials pop at the correct distance. Since they are on cooldowns, it is a total bummer to blow through your specials and have them not hit anyone. To avoid this sad situation, you are constantly running around like a spaz, dodging and displacing to avoid getting hit and still get your hits in. While combat never quite reaches Dark Souls levels of difficulty, failing to stay engaged at all times will lead to a “Game Over” screen in a matter of seconds.

The visuals in Preta: Vendetta Rising are extremely high end for a PS VR game. In some ways, this is the best-looking game I’ve played on the system. While the overall mood of the game is grim-dark shadow-realm fantasy apocalypse, this forbidding environment is represented in a visually appealing way that surprised me. Players can view the battlefield from a variety of vantage points. You can keep your character at enough of a distance that the combat zone looks like it is populated by action figures. You can also snap to three other views, even getting right into the thick of battle in first person if you want. Animations are smooth and lively, giving the game a polished and professional look.

As I mentioned above, though, all of the missions take place within the same setting of maybe 15 small areas. While the various mission goals and different enemy types serve to keep the game fresh, the relentlessness of entering these same areas over and over again can get a little trying. These areas are beautifully rendered, but even the most beautiful art becomes a snooze after a while if it is the only thing you have to look at.

I also had a bit of an issue with the soundtrack. The music and sound effects are decent (if unmemorable), but I did experience this weird bug where a rhythmic clanging metallic sound persisted over the soundtrack no matter what I was doing. The clanging even continues over the load screen, and I sometimes had to take breaks from otherwise enjoyable sessions just to escape the relentless sound.

You will be seeing that load screen a lot, because you will be dipping into missions repeatedly to get the materials you need for better gear. While I enjoyed revisiting previous missions with different goals from the first time through them, the number of times you have to repeat missins starts to feel like a bit of a grind after a while. It almost feels as though the game is still tuned to push players towards in-app purchases that no longer exist. While there is a lot of meat to Preta, there is also a fair amount of fat that could be trimmed.

Regardless of its faults, Preta is a great game for $20. With a great visual style, surprisingly deep combat, and fun systems, players can expect hours and hours of play from this game, which is more than can be said of many PS VR titles. This is a title that does not sugar coat its difficulty, and it strikes that magical sweet spot between accessibility and crippling difficulty. Action RPG fans finally have a worthy game on PS VR. Curious parties should not hesitate to pick up Preta. They won’t be disappointed.

Preta: Vendetta Rising feels like what it is; an indie game that set extremely high goals for itself and achieved most of them. While the developer states that they will be refining and adding to the experience, Preta already feels like a full-featured game. While the game’s fun and engaging combat all takes place in a limited environment, the depth of play makes up for the sameness of the admittedly beautiful visuals. Players can expect to get hours of fun out of Preta. For certain PS VR players, this game is a dream come true, filling a void that was aching to be filled.

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a 45-year-old dad with four kids, ranging in age from 1 through 17.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs).  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on PS4, PSVR, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U and a janky PC.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect.

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