Sony has recruited fledgling indie studio Impulse Gear to build a game for the company’s new PS VR “Aim” controller. After spending some time with distant point, it’s one of those rare, solid demos that made me seriously consider buying an unnecessary accessory. As someone who’s grown weary of useless plastic tattoos cluttering up my living room, that’s no small praise.
You may remember the PS3’s Sharp Shooter attachment, which was usually a casing that players would insert a PlayStation Move wand into to resemble a gun, but this new VR Aim accessory is its own special fully molded piece equipment. As a result, the gun feels very sturdy and the buttons are more comfortably placed (plus, it now has two analog sticks, as opposed to the Sharp Shooter’s single stick).
distant point is the only demoed game for this accessory, and it sells the thing by providing a competent, nausea-free take on a first-person shooter. Impulse Gear has been very careful to build its first-person shooting levels as forward walking experiences rather than free roaming, meaning players can press forward on the joystick to simulate walking without feeling nauseous. At the same time, players can still easily look around and go through a hectic scene when enemies fly in. Having the chunky controller to hold on to can really anchor the brain-to-body situation here, and the mix of the nicely spaced controllers rumble and the game’s precise, powerful gunfight made me feel right at home popping Starship Trooperslike insects.
–– Sam Machkovech
Psychonauts: Rhombus of Ruin
Double Fine’s efforts to bring its cult 3D platformer to VR takes the franchise in a very different direction. Window of Ruin is more of a point and click VR adventure seen through the lens of Psychonautsbrain-based powers. For example, you can project yourself into other people’s (or animals’) brains to change your first-person perspective in the room, which is necessary to view puzzles from different angles.
If you use a DualShock instead of PlayStation Move controllers, you can’t touch the environment directly, but you can use your telekinetic powers to pick up objects and float them to new locations. You can also project your will via force pokes, psi blasts, and fiery pyrokinesis, meaning I got a chance to throw some flaming toilet paper at a needy restroom attendant in my short demo.
The brief portion of the game shown at E3 was primarily a tutorial of sorts, but it still showcased much of the wit and charm that made the first Psychonauts so popular. I hope the full game expands on this with some really clever puzzles.
– Kyle Orland
Batman Arkham VR
Yes, that’s possible to be the Batman in it Arkham VR. Yeah, sort of. When Sony flashed the Rocksteady name next to a chuckling Joker, there was hope Arkham VR would be a true Batman experience, a full-on adventure set in Rocksteady’s awe-inspiring vision of decaying Gotham. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. But if nothing else, just talking to Alfred before sneaking into a secret room via a mechanized piano to don that famous cowl is kind of like a dream come true.
You step into the batsuit, arm yourself with batarangs and scan guns, and wave frantically at a reflection of yourself – fully decked out in Batman garb – in a floating mirror ahead. You’re asked to test the suit’s systems by batarranging targets before the computer declares you worthy to enter the batcave via a long and imposing glass elevator. The sense of scale as you descend into the cavern is nothing short of breathtaking, but unfortunately that’s as far as the demo goes.
There’s another demo, which goes into more gameplay – an extensive detective mode where you find clues by scanning a crime scene – but this one too is decidedly light on content. In the end it turns out Arkham VR is just another VR “experience”, a condensed version of a full-fledged game that only lasts a few hours. It’s a few hours spent as Batman, mind you, which might be just enough for some.
Real-time strategy and god games have never done so well on console. Whether it’s the difficulty of assigning keyboard and mouse controls to a controller, or console gamers just don’t care, the simple strategy game has remained one for the PC crowd. Tied up that changes. It is a strategy game inspired by, among others Poplar and Black and white which manages to combine an innovative operating system with a cute and cuddly aesthetic that is hard not to fall in love with.
You are tasked with giving birth, raising and defending Peeps, a bunch of cute little animals that hatch from eggs that fall from the sky. The first squeaky egg that falls requires heat, which introduces you to the game’s most important mechanism: tethering. As a sun cloud hovers over a small island, you are prompted to move it to the egg by turning your head to look at it, holding X to highlight it, then turning your head to draw a line to where you would like. as it goes. It’s a surprisingly intuitive system, one that manages to map all interactions with just a single button.
Gathering resources, building farms, or fighting the slugs that periodically threaten your peeps are all accomplished by tying your peeps to other things. That may sound overly simple, but the challenge lies in how the game gradually ramps up the difficulty by increasing the number of peeps you have to manage at once and changing what resources you need to construct buildings, such as a watchtower, for example, which helps to the snails away at night.
It’s all insanely cute, well-designed, and just plain fun to play. It looks like it’ll be a pretty deep experience too, one of the few on PS VR to date. Tied up is definitely one to check out on launch day.
PlayStation VR launches for the PS4 on October 13, priced at £349, $399, €399.