2016’s Job Simulator is still one of the best games available on PlayStation VR, even when stacked up against the last few years of great new games for Sony’s Vive and Rift rival. Combining fully interactive workspaces with a dash of quirky irreverent humour, it became a champion in those fledgling days of virtual reality games. Owlchemy Labs has finally treated us to sequel and it’s just as brilliant.
If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, Vacation Simulator has you taking a break from office cubicles and diner kitchens in favour of idyllic holiday hotspots. There are three in total with a beach, forest, and mountain, each one featuring a mini hub world of sorts.
Unlike Job Simulator where you were rooted to a single spot and being led through a sequence of tasks, Owlchemy’s follow-up is much, much freer. Within each destination you can quickly jump between waypoints, most of them manned by a friendly bot with a quest or mini-game for you to complete.
It’s freer in another sense too, letting you visit each destination and their collection of activities in any order you’d like. The only thing holding you back is the need to exchange five “Memories” in order to unlock the final sequence for the location that you’re in.
Vacations are all about making memories, the friendly robots that set this all up have decided. However, the humorously dry Efficiency Bot has a different interpretation of what memories actually are, seeing them as data points that can be mapped on a graph. This become a metric, a way of point scoring that helps you keep track of your overall completion, while also serving as one of the game’s recurring jokes.
There’s a diverse spread of mini-games here that each have plenty of interactivity, ranging from sandcastle building to photo shoots, bug hunting, and a fairly robust painting tool, just to name a few.
They all involve holding, using, and combining the game’s plethora of objects in a way that feels truly immersive even in this vibrant cartoonish world. Owlchemy has beefed this aspect up even further for its sequel, introducing an inventory system. You’re no longer limited to only being able to use the items in your hands or the immediate vicinity, but can store and then take them to different areas, including your own stash back at home base.
This helps push Vacation Simulator more into traditional adventure game territory. For example, the more advanced cooking mini-games will require ingredients that are found in different holiday destinations. In a nutshell Owlchemy has added backtracking to its sequel and this definitely helps underline the game’s new, non-linear focus.
That same charming streak of humour runs throughout Vacation Simulator and although it’s now familiar, it’s still bound to get some laughs. Each of the bots you encounter have fun personalities and a distinctive look to set them apart with visual design having been dialled up considerably for the sequel.