Virtual Reality Reviews

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there's a frog in my snake oil
The spangle of enthusiastic gifs on my main thread were just killing this post as it grew, so I'm giving reviews their own space. (Plz don't post spangly gifs )

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REVIEWS:

--SHOOTERS & BRAWLERS--



SUPERHOT VR
- Superhuman slow-mo super-antics. Short but pretty perfectly formed.

Robo Recall
- Gaudy teleportation shooter, short-ish but slickly executed. Its future-90s cities felt like a place you were scudding through, but the focus was on the high octane gamery. [Rift Freebie]

GORN
- Ludicrous arena melee-fest that deploys its cartoon hammers and bendy swords to great effect. [Early Access]

Onward
- Arma-style 'realistic' mili shooter that really places you in the moment! [Early Access]

Hotdogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
-- - Ridiculously replete gun simulator sandbox with bonus zombie sausage scenarios. Even though it's more a suite of mechanics than a game it's surprisingly good. [Early Access]

Run of Mydan
(+) - A short but pretty & trippy flying platform shooter which ends up like a duel inside a 1990s microchip [Early Access]


--SIMULATORS--



Elite Dangerous VR
(+/-) - Flying a spaceship never felt so real! (Some queueing for parking required...)

Dirt Rally
+ - 'Dark Soulsian' offroader that shows no mercy in its starter disciplines, but rewards with deep challenges.

Project Cars 2
(+) - This is all about the ludicrous Rally Cross antics in a Ford Escort for me. Or really any inappropriate car you fancy. Great sounds, great sweeping weather effects.

Lunar Flight: AE
(+++) - There is space serenity here when you win your stately battle with physics and gravity. And tense space panic when you lose it...



--ARCADE RACERS--



BallisticNG
(-) - Retro Wipeout clone that makes you forgive its gritty pixels with its slick set of classic tricks.


--SPORTS--



Echo Arena
- Challenging and super-slick Zero-G team frisbee multiplayer, Ender's Game style... [Rift Freebie]

VR Sports Challenge
(++) - Ludicrous wish-fulfillment basketball and quarterback mini-games pitched as key moments thoughout a match.


--ADVENTURE / PUZZLE / WALKING SIMS--



Lone Echo
--- - A 'floating sim' where style, immersion & character trump the otherwise straight-forward puzzling

The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed
+++ - '80s adventure' with some neat tricks and touches, just ultimately light on puzzles and length.

Pollen
+++ - Explore an abandoned space outpost in search of missing astronauts - Tactile, 70s-style, and not a little bit trippy by the end.


--ACTION ADVENTURES & RPGs--



Fallout 4
++ - Everything that's good about FO4 is better here. It's a blind-firing, deep-diving, horizon-refining, hair-raising epic of a thing. Expect the jank to be cranked to the max too though

Vertigo
++ - Eccentric but pretty damn excellent 'escape the lab' adventure, with some stand out giant boss scenarios.

LA Noire
++ - Absolutely amazing at points, and a laudable attempt at an experimental port, but often grinding its gears due to tech and design requirements

Vanishing Realms
(+) - Satisfying melee and cartoony consistency make this dungeon crawler overcome it's short-ish length. [Early Access]

Edge of Nowhere - 3rd person linear Cthulu-horrors don't tick my boxes, but the art and swirls of storytelling raised this above its more monotonous mechanics.
(+)


--STEALTH GAMES--



Payday 2
++ - Slick cross-play port that nails the carnage but really shines when you're sneaking with mates


--PUZZLE GAMES--



XING: The Land Beyond
-- - Super zen puzzler which sees you flipping environmental effects and pacing around various natural zones.

A Fisherman's Tale
(---) - Super slick, but super short, take on a Russian-doll reality. Not hard, but still ingenious.

Interkosmos
- Great little 'land the lander module' mini-adventure, featuring tongue-in-cheek Cold War stylings & audio story. Super short, and more on the 'experience' end of things.

I Expect You To Die
+++ - Giddy and gleeful physics puzzler, set in faux 60s Bond scenarios. Only let down by short content and some repetition mis-steps.

Just In Time
(+) - Cute if slight indie action-puzzler. Save lives in slow motion for your insurance company. More about the bullet-time than brain time.

Form
- - Evocative puzzler that is unfortunately all form and very little substance.


--SURVIVAL GAMES--



Vivecraft
-
Excellent mutation of the survival classic, featuring a huge suite of options, leading to some surreally immersive results. A ton better than the official version. [Free Mod]

Star Shelter
++ - Neat 'rogue lite' space scrounging simulator. Punishingly cruel at times, but has a certain something in its loops. [Early Access]


--GOD GAMES--



Deisim - Just incredibly chill. Like being a mountain-sized gardener -
(+) [Early Access]


--RHYTHM GAMES--



Beat Saber - Ever-escalating challenges push you into a zen zone of perpetual motion -
(---)


--LOCAL-MULTIPLAYER PARTY GAMES--



Puppet Fever - Super-cute interactive puppetry take on charades -
[Early Access]


--PLATFORMERS--



Herobound
+++ - A pretty tight little combat/puzzle platformer, with some minor non-linear aspects. Gains almost nothing from being in VR, but hey it's 8hrs long and it's free. [Rift Freebie]


--MODS--



GTAV V R.E.A.L. Mod
-- - Its rough around the edges, but just about playable end-to-end, minus the cut-scenes. A whole new way to explore this world. Epic . WARNING: Not noob friendly on the 'VR legs' front.


--EXPERIENCES--



First Contact
- Just an exceptional and super-slickly designed intro to the tech. Highlights what's special but makes everything feel natural. [Rift Freebie]

Batman: Arkham VR
- Super immersive, if super short, chance to don the bat cape and tangle with some dark Gotham dilemmas. On the light puzzle end, and more experience than game, but immersively good for all that.

Waltz of the Wizard
+ - Lovely free physics plaything, with the odd mini-narrative hidden in its playful folds... [Rift Freebie]

Google Earth
++ - The capture tech and motion freedom here can get pretty mind-blowing at points. Yes, it's blobby at human scale, and many bits of the earth are 'flat' scanned, but from flying like an eagle over natural formations, to settling in a favoured city dell, there's some strange joy here...

Hold The Earth
- The venerable David Attenborough talks and gestures you through some natural artefacts, before they come to life at full scale.

Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab
+(+) - Too short, and slight on a gaming front, to even rate if it wasn't free. But as a demonstration of what full actor capture could do, and for slipping into the Blade Runner reboot neatly enough, it's definitely worth a reco. [Rift Freebie]

Aircar
++ - Another free super short experience, which is never-the-less properly epic. It's just a wonderfully rendered cityscape experience, which is immediately evocative of the original Blade Runner. [Free]

Mission:ISS
- Another high class freebie, featuring solid zero G locomotion, the sci-steeped setting of the station, but what's genuinely glorious is the ability to space walk outside it all... [Rift Freebie]

1943 Berlin Blitz
(++) - Visually smudgy but ultimately effective framing of audio recorded during a bombing run. A moment of history brought slightly more to life. [Free]

Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel
(++) - More BBC history, this time with slightly clunky narration but a fairly lovely painterly style to evoke the contemporary audio. [Free]

Welcome to Light Fields
(++) - Posed 19thC photos meet the 21stC. Lightfield 3D world capture is very intriguing indeed. [Free]

Kismet
+(+) - A slight but slickly-presented collection of Tarot reading, Astrology, & a fun little board game from Ancient Ur... well worth a sale snag, if missing hand control.

The Tear -
( + + + + ) - More art installation than puzzler, sitting on the floor with indie inter-dimensional experiments was still intriguing though.

Farlands
+ - Delightful alien locations mixed with deeply tedious gameplay. Worth a download for the initial transporting sections though. (Warning, includes chirpy robot guide...) [Rift Freebie]

Mythos of the World Axis
- Super-short early proof of concept that makes your feel like you're controlling a tiny hero in a cavernous room of adventure...[Free]

Cycling Pathways to Mars
+
= ? - Buzz Aldrin in hologram form. Need I say more...? [Free]

Moriarty: Endgame VR -
(+) - Neat-enough opening chapter of a future-Holmes graphic novel with solid audio.

The Body VR
-- - A hint of what education VR could become, but not there yet. Some of the scale as you passed over and into the mechanisms and environments of the inner cells was pretty cool though. [Free]


--SHORT STORIES--

Pearl -
- Sit in the passenger seat throughout the life of a family car, as a father and daughter go from the Spring to the Autumn of their relationship. That's it. It's kinda hokey, technically solid, but gave my parental heartstrings a twang by the end. [Free]

Dear Angelica -
- The painterly style and dark spaces work well enough for these melancholy traces of reveries and daily debris. Geena Davis adds some cinematic sheen. Doesn't take off completely, but does brood. [Free]


---

CAVEAT: It's really hard to come up with a number that represents these nascent games and golden nuggets fairly. I'm not even sure if I'm high or low balling the scores any more. (I'm afraid of rating some slightly too highly purely because they stand out amongst an immature market, or because the woo-factor is washing over more obvious software shortcomings. The bang for buck aspect also can't be ignored, and I've tried to factor that in. Some should drop to a more reasonable price over time of course, but their pioneer mechanics will also date...)

The brass tacks are though... almost every game here honestly feels like a
to me thanks to the immersion and novelty aspects etc, I've often just gone woooooo and given them a
anyway . Even if objectively there are enough flaws and downsides from a classical gaming perspective that I should really chip off at least half a point...
__________________
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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



The People's Republic of Clogher
A veritable database.
__________________
"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan



there's a frog in my snake oil
A veritable database.
There will be more!

(God knows why I bought Skyrim, it's not like I'm going to 'finish' F4 as it is )

Some sweet deals in the Summer Sale on the indie front recently too. Scanner Sombre is really fitting for VR. I genuinely feel bad for the devs that I got it for like a quid :/. Lunar Flight absolutely sucked me in too. Proper geeky zero-G lunar sim fest, took me from complete ineptness to a weird sweaty state of zen as I got the hang of basic deliveries. Think you might dig!

Just broke and got the weird interactive detective movie-game The Invisible Hours for a tenner too, as part of a weird bundle.

(re recent discussions, I'm thinking lean PC man. There's just too many oddities out there to broaden the game palette. Anyway - off topic! )



The Adventure Starts Here!
I played the First Contact experience VR at a friend's house last week (which is where I promptly decided to buy an O.R. when I got home). It was the first thing I did when I put on that headset. I seem to recall a lot of giggling with delight once I got over the weird feeling that THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING BEHIND ME. And when I put a disk in a machine or did something right, the sense of accomplishment at such a simple task was ridiculously high. But SO much fun.

I also played a game called Moss -- and that's the game that completely sold me. I was so sure every single VR game would be a shooter that would completely freak me out. But there *are* VR games out there that *don't* do that to a person.

I already own three VR games (which came with the regular 2D versions): Xing, MIND Path to Thalamus, and Obduction. I'll likely buy Moss immediately after getting the VR set up.

Keep 'em coming, Golgot!



there's a frog in my snake oil
Excellent

First Contact really is off the chart isn't it. So neatly done.

Def check out the 'walking sim adventure', puzzle & experiences sections from the reviews, there are quite a few there that should suit you I reckon.

Xing is super zen and I reckon you'll enjoy. Some vertigo moments tho

Moss seems to be the standout for '3rd person games that use hands'. Only release I'm aware of that touches all of those bases is Fisherman's Tale at the moment. (There's a Rift freebie that's a platform puzzler, which is cute, but it's just a straight controller game really).

Maybe check out some of the god games too? Think you might dig the VR take on some of them. The one above & Townsmen VR are both unfinished Early Access, but worth a sale buy to poke around in

Have fun

EDIT: Oh and you have to try the 'Vivecraft' mod for Minecraft. Like, have to . (I recommend faffing with the walking options until you can walk in the direction your hand is gesturing. Works well for 'naturalistic' exploring )

Also... Skyrim



The Adventure Starts Here!
Skyrim might be a bit down the line for me because of the fear of being attacked from behind. But open-world or god games might be fun.

And yes, the First Contact freebie was absolutely delightful. Not sure how much of my delight was that it was the first thing I did in VR, but it was just so darned FUN and it taught me things I needed to know about how to work the controls, while having fun doing it.

I think the Oculus Rift I purchased comes with six games: Robo Recall, Luckyʼs Tale, Quill, Medium, Dead and Buried, and Toybox. I'm sure I'll have fun fiddling around with a few of those while getting more comfortable with the controls. The Vivecraft *does* look like fun. I've got waaaay too many hours in on the regular Minecraft game, so that's already on my radar.

I played about three hours of the regular version of Xing, so I'm thinking the VR version will be lovely!

I'm trying to get all sorts of desk work done before the OR arrives later this week... because I have a feeling I'll be a LOT less productive for a while once that shows up.



there's a frog in my snake oil
I think the Oculus Rift I purchased comes with six games: Robo Recall, Luckyʼs Tale, Quill, Medium, Dead and Buried, and Toybox. I'm sure I'll have fun fiddling around with a few of those while getting more comfortable with the controls.
Yeah there are actually even more freebies about. (Search the reviews above for 'freebie' to snag a few more )

Are you going to go for a '360' camera set up, or just front-facing? (If you're not planning to do standing gaming then front-facing is fine. But if 'standing in the world' stuff appeals then def research the 360 camera set up while you wait )



The Adventure Starts Here!
Oooh, I will do this! It comes with two sensors, but the friends I stayed with are using three. They do a lot of heavier gaming. He's a videographer by trade, so they also do a lot of motion capture of their VR gaming, which is fun to watch. I'm already scoping out my office to see how I might have to rearrange things in order to make the VR work. My office is a bit crowded and not really optimal for too much moving around. Some VR-feng shui might do the trick.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Oooh, I will do this! It comes with two sensors, but the friends I stayed with are using three. They do a lot of heavier gaming. He's a videographer by trade, so they also do a lot of motion capture of their VR gaming, which is fun to watch. I'm already scoping out my office to see how I might have to rearrange things in order to make the VR work. My office is a bit crowded and not really optimal for too much moving around. Some VR-feng shui might do the trick.
Hah cool, yeah there's a lot of fun capture stuff people can get up to.

I'm in small space (about 1.5x1.5m), but if you can get that much you've got enough room for most things (except full 'roomscale', where you're expected to physically move to objects etc). Ideally find a way to get your sensors up high facing each other. (I used GoPro camera mounts in the end, which was a bit more cash, but they're solid, and shouldn't leave marks on the wall when they come down. I hope ).



The Adventure Starts Here!
The Rift came today and I've been fiddling around with it off and on throughout the day/evening. I was pleased to see it installed easily and that I needed no upgrades or anything in order to use it. This (used) Rift didn't come with the games, but some of them are already free on the Oculus app/store so I snagged a bunch of freebies and some low-cost "lite" games on sale for a couple of bucks each.

And I had to buy Moss (full price) because that was so fun to start playing last week that I wanted to continue. Some of the kids' games are delightful fun. Lucky's Tale is like a 3D Mario-type game where I'm running around snagging coins out of the air (and the coins sound way too similar to Mario coins). Fun, though!

I went through your first post in this thread and put a bunch of these games on my wishlist. I also added Beat Saber, a fun beat game that I started in Houston too. I suck at it but by the time it goes on sale, I might feel a little more comfortable with VR in general.

Anyway, it's been fun to toy around with it today.