PlayStation VR is still going strong going in its fourth year. The peripheral has seen some great games as developers get a grasp of the maturing medium and create higher-quality experiences. Here are some impressions of upcoming 2019 holiday season releases.
Stardust Odyssey, is a game that’s inspired by the Silk Road. The project takes place in a fantasy world where flying caravans venture through terrain. As a smuggler, players have to steal the cargo and find relics among the voyagers by piloting a magic-powered ethercraft.
Players pilot the smooth- and slow-moving vehicle down linear, tunnel-like levels. Along the way, they steal items from other ships and search for treasures such as ether cages that hold resources that upgrade the player’s ship.
Stardust Odyssey is easy to play and leverages the feeling of flight without bottoming out a player’s stomach. Although it looks simple, the game has plenty of depth as players pilot the ship so that it hides from Guardians protecting caravans. If they’re spotted, players engage in combat by using the spells on board, and the ship can be upgraded as the game progresses.
Whenever someone brings up virtual reality, Beat Saber eventually comes up. The rhythm game has had a tremendous impact in the popularity of the medium and how games are developed. Seeing the success of the game, it’s no surprise that Harmonix introduced its own take on the genre, but instead of having laser swords, players arm themselves with guns. They have to shoot at targets in rhythm with the music while also accurately doing it. That’s the core element of the game.
Harmonix adds other flourishes as well. In some cases, targets will fly at players and they’ll have to melee them with the controller. In other instances, they’ll have to hold on to the trigger for a sustained note in a song. Another technique has players shooting sideways.
Played well, Audica can make players feel like John Wick as they nail targets with the right timing. In addition to playing a total of 33 songs on the mostly electronic soundtrack, players have the opportunity to create their own levels for each song.
This is an odd game that’s more like being in the middle of a nature show. Players don’t receive much direction as they’re thrown into a surreal world inhabited by paper creatures. As an explorer in this bizarre world, players move by pointing to a direction using the Move controllers and teleporting there. They can look around and interact with the paper beasts that wander through the world. They’ll see them drink at watering holes or skitter around sand dunes.
Paper Beasts has a sandbox-type quality as players just mess around with the flora and fauna. Despite the seemingly open-ended nature, there is a kind of story to the experience. As players wander through, a black hole-type phenomenon opens up beneath players feet and they have to flee with the other animals. Eventually, the giant deer protect the user by blocking the entrance of a cave while the world falls apart around them.
Paper Beasts is a peculiar game that could interest players looking for an unconventional experience.
This VR short puts players in the role of Space Scout 817. Because humans destroyed earth, players are sent across space looking for inhabitable planets. Because of some shoddy manufacturing, their pod breaks apart and they crash land on a strange planet with robot sidekick named Debbie (voiced by Ali Wong). Players survive in the alien landscape and have to make an important decision at the end.
The experience is a fun aside that doesn’t last longer than 15 minutes. It has some surprisingly interactive elements as players try to survive with the robot and fend off the alien wildlife. It’s not the most advance piece of AR, but it’s entertaining and has heart.