It’s been a year of extremes for VR, from the arrival of the elite level Vive Pro and lower end standalone headsets, balanced against a seemingly disappointing uptake of VR hardware in general. The shining light amongst all of this has been PlayStation VR, passing some important sales milestones (hopefully pushing further still this Christmas) and with the arrival of a number of essential gaming experiences for the medium. Sony are often easily swayed away from the less conventional hardware that they thrust out into the world, but thus far PSVR doesn’t show any signs of going away.
Here we are again, expounding our belief that Tetris Effect is simply one of the best games you can play in virtual reality. Given its Visual Design award and Best Original Soundtrack runner-up spot as well, it’s obvious that we think a lot of it, and there’s a reason for that: it’s flipping unbelievable!
As far as auditory and visual experiences go, Tetris Effect takes you on a journey across the Earth that’s unlike anything else out there. Mizuguchi fans will be quick to tell you that it’s like ramming Lumines and Rez together on a blind date with Tetris as a chaperone, and that’s both all and none of the story. It’s a game that you have to partake in to understand; no amount of explanation or frilly words can do justice to what it’s like once you’ve slipped that headset on.
While the soundtrack is great to listen to and a video will give you a sense of what’s going on on screen, you can easily understand the dissenters who decry that it’s a prettier version of a game we were playing on our Game Boys when we were all much, much smaller. The fact that its legendary gameplay – refined here to within an inch of its life – is almost a secondary consideration barely makes sense, but then Tetris Effect is more than its sum parts, and in virtual reality the game moves from merely fantastic to excruciatingly jaw dropping.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission – Runner Up
I’m always wary of games that come bundled with a console or device, and equally wary of genres like puzzle platformers in VR. But, against my better judgement, I purchased Astro Bot Rescue Mission and loaded up the PSVR. I’m very glad I did. This game is a tour de force that shows off what the PSVR is capable of, without rubbing it in your face that it’s VR. This game is flawlessly executed and well worth your time.
In a nutshell, you’re a robot helping their little robot pal rescue their little robot pals from across the galaxy. Think LocoRoco crossed with LittleBigPlanet. It’s cute, it’s heart-warming and at times it’s genuinely challenging. If you have a PSVR and you want to sit there with a grin of childish wonder permanently plastered to your face, do yourself a favour and pick up Astro Bot Rescue Mission.
– Nic B
Firewall: Zero Hour – Runner Up
Shooters for PlayStation VR have been fairly hit and miss since launch. The only ones you’ll hear about are success stories such as Arizona Sunshine and Raw Data though there a sizeable number of mediocre, subpar alternatives out there, too. Just look at how Bravo Team turned out earlier this year. So, despite the hype surrounding Zero Hour, it was hard to get excited about the game until it was in our hands, being beamed directly into our eyeballs.
Firewall plays like a dream, using simple yet intuitive controls that give you everything you need to execute attack plans and get caught in exhilarating firefights. The way it encourages communication, and the fact that every headset has a built-in microphone, breaks down some of the awkward barriers you often get playing online shooters. It’s a remarkable debut from developer First Contact Entertainment and one of a handful of titles we’d call PSVR essentials.
– Jim H
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Beat Saber
- The Persistence