Augmented Reality on the PS Vita never really took off, and I doubt that many Vita owners have actually touched, nevermind used, their AR cards. There simply aren’t enough AR supported games and the ones that do exist… well, they aren’t very good.
That’s not to say I haven’t managed to somewhat enjoy the Vita’s AR offerings so far. PulzAR, for example, was a great idea for a puzzle game, but was hugely let down by the Vita’s poor camera detection. This is something that has become a far too regular complaint with AR focused games.
Thankfully Open Me is on hand to break this trend. It is by far the best AR game the Vita has to offer, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the highly imaginative people at Sony Japan Studio are the masterminds behind the game.
Open Me tasks you with opening a series of different puzzle boxes, all varying in design and complexity. This doesn’t really sound that fun at first but actually it’s quite the opposite. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult either – some of the boxes are a real challenge to open.
For example, some boxes require you to partake in a series of brain-training puzzles, like Simon Classic, which were much more difficult than I was expecting. If you have poor short-term memory then you’ll have a hard time with this.
In contrast, there are puzzles which require more physical input, such as pressing a button x amount of times over a short period of time. While this is demanding in it’s own right there is a possibility of causing harm to your Vita’s display if you are a little heavy handed like me.
You’ll also get graded on your box opening skills. This all depends on your speed and input. Complete the box in a matter of seconds with the minimum required input and you’ll be rewarded with an S or A. Fumble about and waste time – expect a low C. Even if the rewards aren’t great it’s a tactful way to get your replaying each box.
All you need to play Open Me is either one AR card, or an object that’s shaped liked a box, and the game will load each puzzle onto the screen. You can zoom in and out and look around the boxes by moving your Vita accordingly, so a decent amount of space is recommended.
Of course there are a few flaws with Open Me. Firstly, if you’re playing in a poorly lit or a too bright environment then you will encounter the usual problems with the Vita’s camera. The on-screen box will spontaneously disappear and reappear. This can be solved by adjusting your playing area though.
Also if you are moving around, which you will need to do, and the AR card goes out of sight then the box will again disappear. This can become a real problem if you are playing in a cramped or small space.
As mentioned before, some challenges require a lot of finger input and on one particular master box (these tend to be harder than the others) I found myself tapping the Vita screen quite frantically. It felt as though I was going to damage my handheld, and I’ve not returned to that challenge since.
Finally, whilst there are online modes featured in Open Me, including multiplayer and the ability to create your own puzzles, these are either severely limited, empty or are ad-hoc only, which is a shame.
Overall, Open Me, is without a doubt the best AR game on the PS Vita. It’s challenging, diverse and addictive. It may cost a lot more than the likes of PulzAR or Table Top Tanks, but it is filled with oodles of more content, and features less irregularities and failures with the Vita’s camera detection. Sadly, despite Open Me’s charms I still don’t see Augmented Reality games ever becoming popular now, or at any time further into the Vita’s lifetime.