VR

Review: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

Virtual Rick-ality feels like Job simulator, in the Rick and Morty universe, but a bit more game-y.
There are more mechanics such as puzzles, that make you feel like you’re playing more of a traditional game.

To start off, I want to say if you enjoy the jokes in the show, you will have just as much fun here. I felt like the writing and jokes were spot on. It felt like being in an episode of the show you love, which is great.
As for gameplay and interactivity, if you’ve played Job simulator, you will find that this game similarly, has a very acute attention to detail. The way you interact with objects in the world is intuitive and feels right. (Although sometimes closing cupboard doors was a bit finicky.)
In perfect Rick and Morty fashion, objects in the environment and situations that happen will surprise you.

The main difference I noticed between this and Job simulator was that there are actual puzzles. Although I loved Job Simulator, it was evidently an easy game that’s meant to just make you laugh. There wasn’t much thinking involved.

This game, on the other hand, has several puzzles that push you to really think in creative ways. There was one particular puzzle that stumped me and a few of my other friends for quite a decent amount of time. To the point that we all got frustrated and it actually slowed down our enjoyment of the game for a while until we managed to solve it and get back on track. (It was pretty satisfying when we did accomplish it though).

The game mainly takes place in one small location, but there is a lot to explore within that area. On top of that, you will also transport to 3 other locations briefly (Similarly to Waltz of the Wizard).

Although the game is relatively short, and you can beat it in approximately 2 hours, I’ve found myself at about 4 hours so far just messing around and finding all sorts of really fun easter eggs, hidden collectibles and new ways to interact with some of the cool gadgets available to you.

This has been one of my favourite VR experiences thus far, and although I can absolutely see how the full price can be too high for some people, I understand why the devs have put it up this much. VR development is currently not very profitable, and the game really is super polished, and filled with love, so it really does deserve the asking price.

I think if you go into the game knowing you’re in for a more-or-less short but sweet experience, you will leave very happy.

Review: Karnage Chronicles (VR)

Karnage Chronicles is a beautiful looking adventure game set in a cool Trine-esque fantasy universe.
At the moment, you have 2 classes to choose from:
The first is the warrior. You are given a shield, longsword and crossbow.
As the archer, you have a longbow, and dual daggers.
Both differ enough to make them feel unique in their own rights. Although with both you have close and long range weaponry, they both specialize in different categories.

At the moment, combat feels a little bit janky and difficult. I’m all for difficulty, but it feels too frustrating after a certain point. The devs have said that the speed at which you slash/stab an enemy reflects the amount of damage you inflict, which is definitely a neat feature. It stops you from wiggling your sword in an enemy like you do in other VR games. However, it isn’t as clear as it could be, when I can or am blocking attacks from opponents when I’m in a melee fight. The sound and visual cues aren’t obvious enough in my opinion, and the game doesn’t seem to have any sort of countering mechanism. It would be cool to see some sort of staggering when you block an enemy’s attack.

Long-range combat needs a slight buff I think. Both bows feel like they shoot too low. So you need to aim much higher than you would expect. When I got to the first boss, bows also felt a bit powerless.
Although, there are some nice details about the combat, like how arrows can stick into you shield or body. You then have the option to cut them off using your sword, or pull them out with your bare hands. I don’t believe the arrows pose any further threat once they’re inside you, other than maybe blocking your vision, but it feels very cool and immersive to pull them out after a hard battle.

That’s the main negative with the game. The combat just needs some more work. And that’s what it’s in Early Access for.
At the moment I can’t see a strong reason to go exploring other than finding some scrolls that play an audio-reading of lore. It’s cool that it’s there for people who are into story, but if you are looking for loot, upgrades or health potions, you won’t find any of it. The devs have said they plan to add more RPG elements like that though, which is something I’m looking forward to very much. I think it will add a lot to the game and keep the pacing from getting stale as it does here. Since there’s no loot to grab, you’re just going from enemy to enemy and fighting. And since the combat isn’t amazing, it can get old.

I should also mention there’s no indicator for your health. And you don’t seem to heal over time or through the use of any items. So after 1 minute of no combat, you might walk into a room, get shot by one arrow and die.

The game looks absolutely beautiful though. There is so much attention to detail in the environment and models. The enemies look so cool, and your weapons and outfits look great.
One other neat detail is the ability to get rid of arrows. If an arrow impales your body or shield, you can cut them in half with you sword or pull them out with your hands. It’s a really nice detail that helps immerse you in the world.

Although the ability for free locomotion movement exists, I think it’s not very natural feeling. You need to hold the grip button while then choosing the direction on the trackpad. It puts your hand in an awkward position, and also moves too fast for comfort for me. I’m sure some VR veterans won’t get motion sick from it, but I prefer to stick to the teleport method.

Overall, even though the game has a lot of flaws, it’s quite a nice experience. Looking at the world is great, and you really do feel immersed. Once the devs start ironing out some of these combat problems, maybe lowering the difficulty and giving you a feeling of progression through loot or XP, I think the game will really shape up to be something special.

Review: VR Dungeon Knight

First, I was going to talk about how, despite being in early access, there is more meat to this game than any number of completed, even AAA-titles. And more is added all the time.

Then, I was going to talk about how, despite obviously being a one man show, the developer is one of if not THE most responsive folks I’ve ever seen on Steam. When he says he wants to know what YOU want in a game, he isn’t lying. I don’t think there’s a single thread in the discussions that he hasn’t commented on or replied to, from support to suggestions. This game has every type of locomotion I was aware of, and some I had never seen before, and almost all because someone was like “Hey man, could you add x type of movement?”. The dev would say “I’ll look into it”, and sure enough, next patch, it’d be in there.

Then I tried to talk about the craftsmanship of this title, and how every corner of this world is oozing with flavor and attention to detail. Is it super high rez 8x Anti-alias’d ray shaded bleeding edge textures and malarky like that? No, far from, but it isn’t slapped together either. It’s obvious the developer takes the time to do the absolute best he can with every asset before it winds up in the game, and the whole thing just looks great.

THEN I tried to start with the depth of this thing, and how such a simple concept turns into such a deep well of gameplay. Weapon options, class choices, play-styles, procedural generation….this thing has it all in spades.

There are multiple weapons with levels, costumes, upgrades on abilities and the ability to become the type of fighter you want to be. Mage, warrior, archer or just a plain old Ye Olde Rambo. The battles can be hectic or attack from afar, the dungeons change and you’re always on the lookout for gold or weapons.

The visual graphics are pretty nice, exactly what you want from a game like this. After only playing this game for a half hour, trembling as I began to walk through my first dungeon because of the atmosphere, I know that this game has tremendous potential.

The dev has captured the creepiness and eerie feel of being within a dark dungeon excellently. Through the use of strategic lighting and ambient sound, you find yourself slowly and cautiously peaking around every corner, making sure no creature is waltzing down the corridors heading your way. The dungeons are randomly generated, so you never get the same layout twice. This in a way keeps each dungeon run quite fresh.

And there is so much more here than advertised. I got through my first map (an absolutely delightful experience that had me ducking, crawling, shooting, thowing lightning, climbing walls, walking a balance beam and more, so you’ll obviously want to have access to room scale for this) and I turned around in the completion review room to see that I had missed a whole host of challenges and apparently an entire bonus mini-boss….stuff I had no idea this game even had!

Especially now that this has Occulus support, there’s no reason not to grab this game. And as great as it is now, it’s only going to get better. Early access done right, VR done right, and just a great damn game that knows what it’s trying to be and is doing that right too.

For 20 bucks, this game is a steal. No VR tax here, boys and girls. This thing is half the price yet has double the content of most VR titles out there.

Review: Interkosmos (VR)


You start off the game in a space shuttle, with a lengthy tutorial that will teach you what every single button and switch does. You might feel overwhelmed at first, but you will learn it as time goes on. And when you do, it will feel very satisfying. Hearing “your oxygen is low” and then your hand automatically snaps to the right lever to let in some oxygen, while at the same time depressurizing the cabin so you don’t die is a very cool feeling.

The graphics look great, by the way. It’s very immersive. Especially since you’re an astronaut, so you’ve got a big bulky helmet on. It perfectly excuses the feeling you have from wearing the VR headset.

The story is one of the best parts of the game. Because of that, I will not spoil anything. I will just tell you that it unravels slowly, and you learn new information as time goes on. Sometimes it will make you laugh, sometimes it will put you on edge. You can make small choices that impact the game slightly, but the gameplay will not really change much.

One thing that bothered me was, your hands aren’t positioned correctly. They are rotated 90 degrees the wrong way, and are too far away from you. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll feel that disconnect when you are actually in VR. It wasn’t too bad, and you get used to it after a while, but there were a few times where I struggled to press something because my fingers weren’t where I expected them to be. Hopefully it’s something the devs can easily fix in the future.

For 4.99$ Interkosmos delivers a lot for space junkies, and/or button nerds. I truly felt like I was in charge of my destiny in this tin can. I had some difficulty with my virtual hands switching on or off certain buttons/covers which made things more tense but a bit frustrating. Hopefully we will see some control tweaks.

I wish I had seen some ingame death sequences which would have added much more replayability other than a simple text explanation as to what I did wrong. I do wish this experience is expanded and polished up as it’s fun and addictive.

It’s quite a short experience, but man it’s such a good one. I beat it in about 1 hour, and although it doesn’t have much replay value, I would definitely recommend people try it out. I think it’s best to not know much about the story and just dive in. Recommended!

Review: SUPERHOT VR

Superhot VR is the popular first person shooter where time moves only when you move, but this time in the virtual world. An engaging and fun to play FPS, the gameplay makes you feel like you are in the matrix, using your mind and body to dodge bullets, in a visually surreal environment.

The gameplay is all about your movement and that of the oncoming bullets, outnumbered by the enemy, in a series of scenarios, using different weapons to shoot, slice and move your body towards survival. It’s a unique FPS design that’s extremely fun and addictive. Having played both the VR and non-VR versions of the game, I recommend getting Superhot VR if you enjoy the original, as the gameplay is the same, but the experience is completely different in VR, and I equally enjoy playing both versions of the game. The VR controls are perfect and super smooth, leaving you with that that matrix feel. The challenge of the gameplay gives it lots of replayablity.

It seemed a touch more aliased than it should have been, and super-sampling can only help you so much, because of the constant red+blank on white color contrast, but of course it runs well. I loved the intermission scenes in the little apartment, with all that computer crap everywhere. The ‘campaign’ mode will probably be over before you know it, but there are plenty of other modes to enjoy in your subsequent sessions.

Now onto the problems with the game. It’s just so much fun. However, I beat the game in only 1 hour. That is VERY short for the main campaign. Although I died a few times and had to restart a few levels, maybe I’m just that amazing at the game? I doubt it. Luckily, when you beat the game you will unlock a few challenges, but they aren’t as substantial as the main game. You can try to speedrun levels, or turn on an only headshot mode, or a survival mode where you kill as many enemies as possible. Again, they aren’t as fun as the vanilla game, but they will extend that 1 hour playtime a little bit.

Another issue I had with the game is everything is picked up using the side grip buttons. After a while, your fingers will really start to hurt, as the position of those buttons isn’t very natural and doesn’t lend itself well to being held for extended periods of time. I understand why they did it like this though.

This allows you to hold onto a gun, and free up the trigger button for actual shooting. After you’ve shot your 5 bullets, your gun will run out and you will want to throw it at an enemy as fast and easily as possible, which is when you just release the grip buttons and it will go flying. If they had any other system, I don’t think it would work as well.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that it can be quite painful after a while, which sucks.

One tiny thing to point out is, sometimes while you’re waiting for a bullet to pass by you, or waiting for a gun to fall into position, you want to keep your head out of the way while at the same time speeding up time. So you’ll kinda just move your hands around to speed up time. It’s not really an actual problem, but it feels a bit silly at times and might make you feel a little bit less immersed at times.

One final problem is the lack of menus. It can be a bit frustrating when you’re playing a challenge and want to restart if you know you aren’t going to, for example, get the fastest time in this level. There’s nothing you can do other than wait for an enemy to kill you. This won’t affect you much, but it would still be a welcome addition.

PROS:

+ Geat visuals and art.
+ Interesting way to progress.
+ Great game mechanics.
+ Occasional humour.
+ Gameplay feels just right.
+ Lots of modes to play through after the main “story mode”.
+ Works great with Oculus Rift + Touch.

CONS:

– Each level has about 5 stages, but if you fail any stage, you have to start the level over.
– Animations can be a bit underwhelming in some situations (dying enemies seem like only semi-ragdolls).
– Sometimes shooting behind objects doesn’t work because of invisible walls.

Review: Gorn (VR)

Gorn is the best implementation of melee combat in VR to date, by a landslide.

I can’t say that I’ve ever actually cut someone’s head off with a gladius in real life. Nor have I let loose a tight circling flail at the perfect moment to crush a man’s skull – but when you play this game, you’ll feel you’d know just how to do it – it’s that intuitive and real in the “feel” of it all. It took the swarm of positive reviews to get me past my aversion to the cartoony graphics – but now I understand their purpose. It’s to keep me out of therapy…if it looked as real as it felt, I don’t think I could feel good about myself after the things that I have done.

I Went through the first few waves of unarmed opponents with little trouble, even grabbing my opponents and ripping their heads from their still living bodies all to please the crowd of omnipotent floating heads around me quoting Gladiator the whole way through. The night ended with my eyes burning from the profuse sweat i had started producing and I decide even the best gladiators need sleep so i proceeded to get some rest.


I can’t express how much I love this game. It’s the perfect game for someone who wants to feel like an amazing sword fighter/ gladiator without all this futuristic garbage (not saying it’s all bad) of jumping around flying throug the air.

One of my favorite things about this game is the developers, they respond and actually listen to the feedback of the discord channel. I cannot reccommend checking out the channel enough. Now, to describe the game…

Now, obviously it’s not a perfect game, its got its frustrating moments and stuff like that, glitches, bugs, the lot.
But the way the game is right now, it’s constantly changing and is being fixed.
We could honestly use more developers who listen to their fanbase, Foxhole and Gorn are good examples of this kind of great thing.

Another great thing about it is how powerful you feel when you go in slow motion after parrying, chopping your foes to bits like a sadistic sushi chef.
Personally I love cutting the AI to bits and watching them struggle to hit you or get to you.

Overall this has to be one of the best VR games in existence. I have never hated a floating head that doesn’t speak/barely speaks as much as i have in this game but that anger just makes it that much better when i rip the head from their “champions” shoulders then throw the remains at them. If you have any exercise equipment you wont need it anymore.

Can’t recommend this game enough, it is definitely going far.

John Wick Chronicles VR Review

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John Wick Chronicles, after spending hours with the game’s short but sweet single player, is one of the most polished VR games, right up there with The Lab, Job Simulator and Batman Arkham VR.

The game puts you in the… hands? of John Wick, played by Reeves, as you check-in at the film’s signature hotel. The first thing you’ll notice is how damn good everything looks. In VR, you’re accustomed to expecting blocky environments or quirky art styles due to technical limitations, but John Wick Chronicles does its best to immerse you in this lifelike hotel lobby.

Sporting complete roomscale, the lobby forms around you, as does the training area and firefight segments through the game. You have full access to walk around, as the game opts for this instead of teleportation or being on-rails.

Anyway, once you call the elevator in the lobby and except your mission, you head to the training room, where you test each of the game’s guns through a series of target trials. You’ll be ducking, dodging and pulling off sweet tricks with your guns as you move closer to the end. Honestly, other VR experiences had me expecting this to be the whole game. Wrong.

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The game then puts you in a short series of quests, where you’ll be on roofs and the sides of buildings, or in parking garages, gunning down baddies or taking aim at assassination targets. The gunplay is very responsive, and you’ll be looking down the scopes and sights of these guns more accurately than most FPS games.

I say that, but VR shooting takes some getting used to, and surely still has a long way to go. John Wick Chronicles also has one main barrier there: it’s exhausting.

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Between the Matrix-style chords hanging out of the back of your head from the Vive, to the gameplay that makes you want to duck and roll, you’ll be winded by the end of the training room. It does add a bit to immersion, but it’d be nice to not have to catch your breath, not to mention stretch your hands out from pulling the trigger too much.

But Starbreeze packed a lot into this package, which is avilable on Steam for $19.99. Those who preordered the game got a free copy of Payday 2, one of the developers’ previous titles. They’ll also snag a John Wick 2-themed weapons pack for the game.

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Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time Starbreeze and John Wick have crossed paths. Payday 2 also featured Wick as a playable character to promote the release of the first film.

Maybe if there’s a John Wick 3 we’ll get an even bigger VR experience. And for an owner of the Vive, games like this make the purchase all the more worth it. You can count this one as a must-play.

VR Ping Pong Review

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VR is stupidly immersive. VR Ping Pong makes no attempt at visual realism and yet utterly convinces you you’re playing table tennis. The spectating crowd in the bleachers are all literally made of small cubes, giving them a pixel aesthetic – voxel style – not unlike 3D Dot Game Heroes. Meanwhile, your opponent sports the same look but is almost entirely in 2D apart from his arm, which is merely an extendable rectangle with his 2D hand and paddle on the end. VR Ping Pong could not look more like a videogame, but once that ball has been served your focus is fixed on winning the next point; you’re playing table tennis for real and the pixel people surrounding you cannot convince you otherwise.

Of course the second that precious point is won and you look up from the table and see the daft crowd pulling their heads off in excitement whilst remarkably still being able to cheer, you’re once again reminded that you’re in a virtual space. Going to wipe the sweat from your brow only to clatter against the VR headset proves to further remind you of the fakery of it all. But this to-and-fro between states of immersion makes VR Ping Pong all the more impressive.

There’s obviously a light-hearted and humorous quality to VR Ping Pong, the pixel crowd and AI opponent are reminiscent of classic 8bit sports games, albeit with the crispness and clarity you’d expect from a modern title. The result is pleasantly charming and nostalgic, like jumping into NES title Punch Out, or more aptly Tennis.

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But don’t be fooled by the presentation, behind the scenes some excellent physics ensure that the act of playing table tennis feels as fast and precise as the real thing. Before long you’ll be part of intense rallies, pulling off risky shots towards the edge of the table for glory, and reveling in the crowd’s cheers.

And whilst the quantity of modes is currently very limited, what’s here can still grip you for many hours. One-off games can be played against three difficulties of AI opponent, or you can take to the practice table for unlimited attempts at mastering the mechanics. Meanwhile, a tournament mode pits you against a group of AI opponents across multiple stages and a selection of mini games give you something different try: whether it’s simply hitting the ball against a wall or honing your precision against a broken table with chunks missing. The majority of the mini games are locked, with ‘coming soon’ text to tease you.

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But of course VR Ping Pong is still in Steam Early Access, so some missing modes, including no multiplayer, is to be expected. Fortunately the fundamentals are solid and you can easy lose hours with the current crop of modes. Furthermore, well thought-out options make this as accessible as possible, with the ability to change the rotating of your paddle and even your height. Additionally, it’s an example of a VR game hitting the right price point at a very reasonable £3.99.

Indeed, VR Ping Pong is terrific fun. This digital facsimile of table tennis sports a charming aesthetic that’s delightfully nostalgic and amusing, yet can still entirely convince you of being in an arena playing table tennis once the action kicks in, largely thanks to excellent physics. Once all features are present this is going to be fantastic, right now brilliant will have to do.

CyberpowerPC Releases VR Ready Desktop for $499

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Virtual Reality was one of the hottest aspects of the gaming industry in 2016, and will only become more prevalent in the coming years. Many Steam games now offer VR support, but it’s not exactly widespread due to the limited adoption of VR technology in the gaming community at large. This lack of prevalence is not often by choice, however. As the technology in its current state is relatively new, the barrier to access Virtual Reality has been high and requires both a high end PC and a decently expensive VR system. CyberpowerPC, a global manufacturer of custom gaming PCs, has demolished the price of one of those aspects with a Virtual-Reality-ready Desktop priced at just $499 when bundled with an Oculus Rift headset.

“This bundle will be the first complete AMD Oculus-ready gaming PC that provides the full experience of VR gaming at an affordable price,” said Eric Cheung, CEO of CyberPowerPC.

CyberpowerPC teamed up with AMD and Oculus Rift to design the product, so it’s clear that the intention from the start was to build the PC to function well with the Oculus’s Virtual Reality. The price of the bundle, including both the PC and the Oculus Rift will be $1,099.98. While that price may still be a little rich for some, having a computer and Virtual Reality system bundled together for around $1000 is still a lot better than buying the two separately. This fairly priced system gives a marked improvement in cost for the PC side of the equation, and the VR headsets should continue to decrease in price as technology inevitably advances.

“Less than a year after launching the Oculus Ready program, we’re thrilled to see that the all-in price for jumping into the highest-quality VR experience continues to drop by hundreds of dollars,” said Nate Mitchell, head of Rift, Oculus. “Thanks to the efforts of hardware companies like CyberPowerPC and AMD, more people will have the opportunity to enjoy the amazing games and experiences coming to Rift this year.”

The system will include an AMD quad-core FX 4350 processor and AMD Radeon RX 470 graphics card. It also offers twice the clock speed of a consumer desktop, with twice the amount of cores and cache memory of similarly priced options. The VR ready PC will launch with 8 Gigs of Memory and a 1TB hard drive, ensuring gamers have plenty of space to store their VR experiences.

The Gamer Ultra VR Bundle is available for purchase on Bestbuy.com and Amazon.com starting today, and includes the VR-ready Desktop and the Oculus Rift Headset.

Drunk or Dead VR Game Enters Greenlight

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VR is a very experimental platform at the moment. It’s freshly broken ground, and not a lot of developers seem to know what to do with it. Plenty of attempts have been made at charting this new frontier, with mixed results. Some games are built from the ground up for VR, while others feature VR as an optional peripheral. A recently announced game, Drunk or Dead, has taken the former approach.

Drunk or Dead is an odd concept, combining drinking with the zombie apocalypse. It combines the classic gameplay of shooting zombies with the game’s main selling point, getting drunk. While sober, the player can aim more accurately, while drunk, the player has more time and gets more points. The drawback to being drunk being, naturally, that you can’t aim very well. Players will naturally sober up and must keep pounding beers, but not too many. There’s a catch, if you become fully sober or fully drunk, you die. In other words, Drunk or Dead expects you to constantly remain tipsy and pull off headshot on zombies. No pressure.

Drunk or Dead has a very interesting, and short, development history. It was created by a combination of eight different indie teams in just 48 hours. It was done over the holidays, in what is described as a “nonstop Christmas VR game jam.” While the core game is done, the developers have expressed their desire to keep working on it. As one might expect, a game isn’t fully completed after just 48 hours of development. It still needs to be polished, something that the developers are more than willing to do. They do not seem to think that it will take a long time however, as they plan to release the Drunk or Dead on January 10th. If it manages to gain traction on Steam Greenlight, that’s when you’ll see it.