So you’ve got a fancy new PlayStation VR and now you’ve got to find some games to play on the thing. Luckily for you, the PSVR launched with plenty of options in that very arena. Just think: a headset designed to play games in virtual reality and there’s actually real games to play – even some you’ll actually want to play. What a concept!
Let’s take a look at a few so you can get an idea of what’s available; we’ll also be checking out a couple of the larger-scale options, namely PlayStation VR Worlds and RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, and even Batman: Arkham VR in their own separate reviews. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the better choices for your playing pleasures.
VR Tetris, sort of but not really. SuperHyperCube has you maneuvering shapes through giant walls that barrel down on you from the horizon. It’s a simple idea, but the use of VR imparts a sense of presence and scale to the proceedings; that animal fear of a giant thing looming in the distance is present and accounted for once you get immersed in this one.
There’s not much else to say, really; you put shapes in walls in VR while trippy visual effects go off all around you. The further you go, the larger your shape gets, making it more difficult to figure out how to squeeze it through the next wall and requiring you to examine the thing from all sides. It’s a lot cooler than it sounds. The one issue with the game is the infamous VR Tax: this is essentially a minigame that costs a whopping $30, which is a bit dear for this kind of thing no matter how cool it is. Rez Infinite (see below) costs the same amount and offers drastically more to do, so you might want to check that out instead.
I, uh…I’m not really sure what to say about this one. You are apparently a banana wielding a bow that initially shoots plungers. Your job is to shoot monkeys with the plungers (and, later, coconuts and other ammunition) in order to stop them from eating your banana pals, which is surprisingly morbid if you think about it. There’s also some kind of banana-raising simulator minigame going on, and I spent a solid several minutes trying to figure out how to start the game before realizing it’s one of those pseudo-room-scale games that requires you to get up and walk around a little.
Archery with a pair of Move controllers works pretty well! Your left hand holds the bow, serving as your method of aiming, and your right hand draws the string to determine distance. If you’re one of the ten people who bought Moves back when they launched, then you’ve probably played Sports Champions, a Wii Sports knockoff that does archery in the same way. You’ve got plenty of monkeys to shoot at, including some bosses, and later levels even allow you to move about the level a bit by teleporting to different spots.
All in all, once you get past how strange everything is Ace Banana is a cute idea that works pretty well. I can’t say I’m thrilled about the big goofy banana hands that you use ingame, though. That’s a little much for me.
Harmonix Music VR
This is essentially a VR-enabled music visualizer. You can use your own music, though the game comes with a selection of tracks as well; just pick a tune, a stage and enjoy. The four stages offer different things to do, but you’re never actually doing much. The Beach has you looking at stuff to make pretty lights flash around the beachscape where your music is shaking the world, The Trip is essentially the visualizer from Winamp with little to no interaction at all, The Dance has you messing around with creatures on a dance floor and The Easel lets you draw in 3D space, though since you’re using Move controllers you probably shouldn’t count on becoming Virtual Reality Monet.
None of these are necessarily a terrible idea, except maybe The Trip, but the package as a whole feels like something the PSVR should be able to do by default; couldn’t you get a similar, if not VR-enabled, version of this on consoles back in the 90s? At $15 it’s not asking too much, though, and this same level of quality would likely run you around $30-40 on PC for the Vive or Rift, so if you’re really into the idea of a music visualizer or you want to try messing around with The Easel than go for it.
Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live
Likewise, this is a VR-enabled concert sim. I honestly think this is a better version of the music-in-virtual-reality thing than Harmonix Music VR; Hatsune Miku actually does have concerts and they actually do look a lot like this, so it’s hard to argue with the concept. You can interact with the game by changing seats at the “show,” waving a Move controller or two around like a fool to change what Miku is doing on stage, and checking out the crowd around you to get hints on how to do the Move-waving thing. There’s a surprising amount of love put into the sound quality here as well, with the audio changing noticeably as you move between seats.
Put in some headphones, enjoy the show, and pray nobody is watching as you wave your fairy princess wands and sing along with the dancing anime. It’s neat for Vocaloid fans, though I’d worry that the game’s business model might be pushing it a little; you can buy each of three stages separately at $15, or pay $40 for a season pass that includes them all as they’re released, and I could see that being a bit much. Still, nobody can deny the insatiable hunger of Vocaloid fans for more Vocaloid, and if you’re already dropping $500 on a VR set…
Let’s keep going with the music theme! THUMPER VR is described as a “rhythm violence” game, which is a nice crunchy term. You control a mechanical beetle as it races down tubes in landscapes that resemble death metal album covers. Obstacles will beeline toward your beetle, and you’ll have to bop a button before you get blasted. Boisterously.
It’s all very simple, with the game’s difficulty coming from increased speed and multiple actions later on, and Thumper goes to great lengths to ensure that you pick up on its nuances as you play. You don’t necessarily need VR to play this one, but if you give it a shot you’ll immediately notice the sense of scale that the headset provides. Thumper’s winding roads and monolithic adversaries look impressive on a regular screen, but in VR they’re almost intimidating, and this adds a surprising amount to the game.
One last music game, I promise! Rez is a classic rail shooter that debuted on the Dreamcast in 2001, and hilariously it might be the best game available for your PSVR despite being over fifteen years old. You’re probably familiar with this one already, but if you’re not: ostensibly you’re a hacker sent to break through the defenses of a supercomputer before it can reboot itself and cause chaos. In practice, the game is a simple rail shooter with lock-on mechanics, but it’s also an interactive form of synesthesia, where sounds and visuals interplay to create an engrossing experience.
VR puts you right in the middle of Rez’s sound and light show, allowing you to look in all directions, take in the sights and fight foes using your head to aim. It’s strikingly immersive and suits the game extremely well. You can expect some cheap hits as you look around absorbing it all, but Rez remains a fairly easy game so it probably won’t take long to clear out all five of the original game’s areas.
Once you do, you gain access to the new Area X, where Rez allows you to go off the rails and control your movement manually, blasting away at foes in a low-stress environment. It’s gorgeous, filled with flowing particle effects and shining lights, and it’s absolutely worth the price of admission for fans of the game. Again, Rez Infinite is one of the best options available for the PlayStation VR at the moment, and if you decide to grab the headset you’d do well to pick this game up.