Ripcoil Review: A Diamond in the Rough

You could get it for free with another purchase, and in the flood of Oculus Touch launch content you’d be forgiven for missing it. But that would be a mistake.

You’re standing on a platform above a high-tech chasm, a well of pipes and cables looking like the guts of a particle accelerator crossed with a junkyard. In front of you, on the opposite side of the arena, stands your opponent, waiting to see what you’ll do. The disc appears before you, hovering in mid air. You grab it. You take aim, You throw.

Ripcoil’s core mechanics aren’t exactly deep: the whole game consists of trying to fling a disc past your opponent and onto their goal wall, occasionally bouncing your shots off a side wall to try and pull off a hard to catch trick shot. Your opponent can either grab the disc and throw it back, or charge up a punch which, if connected, will greatly accelerate the disc back in your general direction.

But while the basic disc-throwing mechanic, a sort of obvious homage to Tron, is simple enough to grasp, it’s the player movement mechanic that adds both novelty and challenge to the game. At the start of each round, Ripcoil requires you, the player, to stand still facing your opponent and to press and hold the stick on the left Touch controller to calibrate your position. Leaning left or right thereafter propels the your virtual hover platform in the corresponding direction.

This movement mechanic is a little disorienting at first, but it’s also the greatest immersion multiplier the game has to offer. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon find yourself leaning left and right to perfectly time your movement and acceleration to go meet the incoming disc, catching and returning volley after volley in an increasingly fast and intense exchange against your opponent. You’ll also find your arms and legs getting a surprising workout in the process.

When one of the players reaches ten points, the match ends - you’ll then have the opportunity to briefly watch your and your opponent’s avatars in the scoreboard screen act out your respective hand movements in real time (with some impressive Inverse Kinematics), and to taunt your opponent with a victory pose should you so desire.

we’d love to see more variety in the play style, with the addition of different throwing objects with new physics to ramp up the challenge and variety of play

But while Ripcoil’s PvP matches can be extremely satisfying, the game has a few rough edges that keep it from rally shining. The graphics, while generally good, lack polish - you only have to look down at the platform you’re standing on to see some strikingly low-resolution textures. The physics of disc throwing are also somewhat mystifying, with the disc occasionally seeming to want to follow an optimised path of its own choosing rather than the one you intuitively expected it to follow - aiming for a corner bounce shot only to se the disc smoothly edge towards the centre of the arena is not uncommon.

Finally, and most frustratingly, the punching mechanic is borderline broken, with the disc effortlessly passing through your fist on a large number of occasions, turning what should have been a perfect block into a goal for your opponent. However none of these flaws are real deal breakers, and while Ripcoil will hopefully benefit from a few patches in the near future it should still merit consideration for a regular spot in your roster of Oculus Touch PvP games.

We can only imagine what Ripcoil could be like with a bit more time and budget. The game currently lacks variety, with only a couple of arenas available at launch. It lacks any sort of player evolution or character customisation. And we’d love to see more variety in the play style, with the addition of different throwing objects with new physics to ramp up the challenge and variety of play.

Despite all this, however, Ripcoil is a blast to play - and because its core mechanics rely on actual physical skill rather than artificial perks, dice rolls, or character traits, a win feels truly earned. Ripcoil may well be the prototypical e-sport of the VR generation.