Tue. May 30th, 2023
I'm Tiny (virtual) Riiiiick!

I’m Tiny (virtual) Riiiiick!

Swimming games for adults

About a year into the life of commercial VR, two of the games have become the funniest: Task Simulator and Accountancy. The former, created by Owlchemy Labs, is an elaborate toy set set in a dystopian future, while the latter is an off-the-wall humor experiment that relies on the VR characters screaming ridiculous things. The first is funny because of the way you can play with it; the other is funny because of the endless stream of spoken jokes (helped in large part by Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland).

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rickality, is then the chocolate and peanut butter of VR comedy – because it really squeezes the aforementioned games together. Owlchemy’s insane designers teamed up with the writing and production staff of Rick and Morty, including Roiland, to give the Adult Swim animated series its first VR game (and arguably the most complete video game in its entirety). True to its source material, Virtual Rikality is hilarious and weird, and series fans will want to experience it. But it’s also a reminder of VR’s limitations as an entertainment medium, a fact that fans of the series will be more likely to forgive than anyone who ends up as a newcomer to the game.

How many clones can he kill?

In short, if you don’t like it Rick and Mortythen your time playing this game will seem little more than a drunk scientist inventor who calls to you farmers, calls you vulgar names and kills you against your will.

And if you’re a fan of the series, well…that last sentence probably reads like the poster pull quote of your dreams. All those things happen.

The game starts with you as a freshly generated clone of Rick’s grandson Morty, and you wake up in the same garage where Rick experiments in the TV series. Rick has been tricking you because he and Real Morty need help with yet another of their crazy plans, and it requires steps they think are too dangerous or they just don’t want to do. He also kills you almost immediately… after which you come back to life as a new Morty clone. (How many clones can he make? Turns out a lot.)

“Beating” the game involves performing simple tasks in sequence, as opposed to loose, free follies. If you look at the game in a cold and mechanical way, the “gameplay” on offer is quite pedestrian. You need a VR system with motion tracking, Oculus Touch or HTC Vive, because everything you do revolves around using hands to pick up and manipulate the virtual objects in your environment. (Like other recent VR games, you can “teleport” around, just not very far into a particular room.)

Many of Rick’s requests include steps that are telegraphed to players, sometimes with diagrams showing exactly what needs to be done. Most of these revolve around a “combinator” device that you can use to combine two items lying in Rick’s garage. In a simpler example, put down an apple and something metal and you get a metal apple.

Sometimes you just have to figure out what to combine (or combine exactly what the game tells you), after which Rick will name your next task. Other times you distort other rooms and use your hands to pick up, reassemble or take objects according to Rick’s bids. (Sometimes you’ll need the help of the show’s “Meeseeks” characters, who you can generate and throw to places you can’t reach yourself to switch or carry distant items.) There are a few classic “puzzles.” and a gun-driven action sequence, but otherwise, R&MVR usually takes place as Job Simulator Adventure– you usually just pick things up and throw them around with a “plot” loosely attached to them.

There is difference here: Task Simulator just had more playsets to enjoy. Rick’s garage lives and dies because of the combiner. As you would expect, you can get creative and generate some very weird items with it, which can also be fun to throw around or use. Want to open a can of gasoline and then hold it to your virtual mouth? Go ahead; you make your Morty clone puke its guts out. Those kind of things. But Task Simulator had that kind of crazy VR surprises in spades, and R&MVRThe very small number of rooms contains far fewer ways to combine and play with items. You can’t chop up food, you can’t break other people’s cars, and you can’t terrorize your virtual cubicle neighbors. While I don’t have to do those same tasks again, I wish there were an equal number of new actions in this game.

The funniest VR game yet

The kicker, of course, is that this is Rick and Morty what we’re talking about – and that means every major voice actor from the series is on board with vocal performances as lead characters. Anyone who grew up playing half-baked licensed cartoon games in the 90s can rest assured that they’re getting their money’s worth here.

I’d clock the comedic value of this three-hour VR game at just under two full Rick and Morty episodes. Between the amount of uncensored, hilarious dialogue in the standard mission path and the look and sound jokes hidden around the virtual environment of the characters, you’ll have plenty to laugh about – and very little is boring regurgitation from previous episodes. The showrunners of the series could have built the VR experience on old jokes or copied dialogue, so the TV team and Owlchemy Labs are to be commended for striking a very, very nice balance between fanservice throwbacks and new material.

If I had a nitpick to offer it would be those TVs Rick and Morty is at its best when episodes jump back and forth between an A-plot and a B-plot, with all five core family members playing each other out, interrupting each other to strike the right balance between sci-fi madness and surprisingly tender family stuff. This game leans a lot more on the silly sci-fi and vulgarity of the series. But it definitely doesn’t stink.

It’s also worth noting that VR fluency is crucial to finding some of the best jokes. I mentioned an example of a gas can, and VR novices may not think anything will happen if you take the lid off and drink pantomime drinking a harmful liquid. The same can be said for other very memorable ones R&MVR gags, which are not suggested in any overt way in the game. But the game’s designers clearly built them to be found, as evidenced by vague in-game “achievements” doled out for finding the strangest and most scatological. (I’m not going to spoil them here, but they sure are weirder than “grabbing a gas can”.)

That is to say, this game was made for perhaps the smallest gaming niche I’ve ever heard of: VR headset veterans who also love Rick and Morty. I think more people owned HD DVD players. To be honest, I love that the game’s “hidden” content comes out when you flex your creative muscles, and it’s not like it’s the most brain-teasing stuff to find.

It’s just a reminder that the number of people running into this game and getting the most out of this game is ridiculously small by default. As a result, most Rick and Morty fans have a very weird choice here. They can get their hands on a high-end VR kit — perhaps by going to a friend’s house or buying a full PC and headset package — or they can jump on a platform like Twitch and watch someone else play. Neither is ideal. Virtual RikalityAs funny and memorable as it is, it’s definitely not worth spending over $1,000 alone. And yet, while there are a lot of non-interactive things to laugh about, especially Rick and Morty’s own dialogue, the humor certainly loses something in 2D translation when you’re no longer the second person to animate the comedy.

Fast forward a few years of course, and R&MVR will still be there, with enough comedic moments and really silly gameplay to be worth strapping to your cheaper Oculus 3 or whatever. There’s more to this experience, a thin VR gimmicky, and it will wait, when you get a reasonable chance to try it out. But don’t expect to come back to it again for a second playthrough.

Editor’s Note: I’ve avoided spoilers in this text, as some jokes (particularly fan service ones) are at their best with surprise on their side, but I want to tell part of the end of the game to make a point. Continue to the next page to read this. If you want to avoid this spoiler, enjoy our good, bad, ugly recap and hit the road.

The good:

  • So much authentic Rick and Morty comedy as about two episodes of the series
  • Full voice cast appears to create new funny situations instead of repeating old ones
  • Hidden and surprising jokes, including a “VR inside of VR” moment, make this game fun to work with

The bad:

  • From a purely mechanical point of view there is less to do than in Task Simulatorwhat a bummer
  • If you’re not a fan yet, a lot of the humor will fly over your head
  • Missing part of the heart that balances the crazier moments of the TV series

The Ugly:

  • This is arguably the most expensive episode of Rick and Morty you’ll watch (or, I think, be part of it) someday if you don’t already have a compatible VR kit (although $30 is reasonable for the comedy here)

verdict: Don’t spend more than $1,000 to play this, but if you have a Rick and Morty fan, don’t just watch a stream either. Rob a mad scientist’s garage if you have to, but find a way to try.

By akfire1

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