Skydance's Behemoth brings giant climbable monster fights to VR

Like Shadow of the Colossus, it’s all about battling giants.

Skydance Games

Skydance Games is best known for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, one of the most popular, games on the original PlayStation VR. Combining visceral fights with TWD’s usual dramatic twists, turns and zombies, it felt like a proper VR game.

Skydance's Behemoth is an action-adventure game that draws on the combat and physics of The Walking Dead games but focuses more on fighting and less on survival. Like Saints and Sinners, there’s still a crafting system, but it’s a lot simpler, reinforcing the action-adventure slant here. I got to play a slice of the game, which combined early tutorial snippets outlining controls and mechanics with more thrilling set pieces and exploration segments – oh, and a battle with the behemoth itself.

Shawn Kittelsen, vice president of Creative, says Behemoth has a more sophisticated combat system. You will have to observe enemies, time your counterattacks and generally think a little more about your strategy instead of just waving your weapons around in virtual space. Doing that will drain your stamina bar, leaving you unable to dodge or block if you’re not careful. While combat feels weighty, you can still flail around with weapons and do damage — limitations are translating the swing of a plastic PSVR controller to a massive four-pound broadsword. This stamina system does help keep that in check, at least a little.

Kittelsen says the game lightly draws inspiration from Dark Souls for battle dynamics. At the same time, the most compelling part — a brief fight with the giant — reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus… from a completely different perspective.

You could split my demo into two halves. The initial chunk of the demo introduces control systems, traversal techniques and how to fight other human foes. Like a lot of VR games, it takes a moment to get up to speed. Fortunately, Skydance equipped my character with a magical sword that I could throw and resummon, Thor hammer-style. That, however, didn’t fix my habit of dropping my shield immediately after battles.

I tried out bows, an ax and other weapons dropped by human enemies as I traversed the early parts of the game. I swung across monkey bars and climbed vertical rock faces and ropes, and I felt more than a little self-conscious doing so in a room of game developers and PRs. A wrist-mounted grappling hook adds a bit of speed to exploration, but all these systems together (plus not playing VR on the reg) did make me feel a little queasy. The creators have added the ability to reduce your field of view to lessen the effect, but I did break into a cold sweat during my demo. However, it didn’t reach the levels of Resident Evil 7’s notorious nausea-causing demo.

Skydance Interactive Behemouth Event
Mark Robinson

I went into the second part of my demo, a brief skirmish with a behemoth called Seal, with some trepidation. Would running and evading a colossal monster make me feel even more VR-sick? Not the case. Maybe because I focused on a single objective — the giant monster — as I swung around on my grapple hook, fired arrows at his weak points, dodged foot stomps and more, I felt… fine. That’s a great sign, as my brief tussle with the giant was the standout moment of the demo. I did, however, die a few times.

Like SatC and recent Zelda games, you can scale this behemoth (if there’s the right texture of climbable surface). You can also use your grappling hook to launch yourself towards Seal's knee. You can’t simply cling on, though, as your stamina meter will burn away as you inch toward the giant’s weak spots. In a somewhat misguided approach, I tried to use arrows to hit the creature but would inevitably drop the bow rather than release the arrow. That was due to my skill, not the control system.

Like Horizon Call of the Mountain, climbing and traversing with your hands in Behemoth is fun, but that PSVR2 exclusive is a prettier game. However, the good news is Behemoth is coming to almost all contemporary VR headsets, from Meta’s Quest 2 and upwards, as well as PC headsets and PSVR2.

The creators say the primary campaign will last around 12 hours, with an additional arena mode to fight more enemies — or, hopefully, offer a quick shortcut to battle the behemoth. I can’t wait to get squashed again.

Skydance’s Behemoth launches in fall 2024.