When a new technology lands; it is incredibly important for it to be bundled with a game that highlights what is unique about it and how it will shape the world for the foreseeable future. The Nintendo Gameboy was bundled with Tetris and it cemented its place on the market; the Wii launched with Wii Sports and went on to be the second biggest selling console of all time and now we have the PSVR which launched with…
…no bundled game… …except that’s not entirely true; while there was no game in the box (there was a demo disc though) Sony did release the ‘Playroom VR’ for free on release day. This collection of mini-games IS the PSVR’s tech demo and it IS every bit as good at highlighting the PSVRs strengths as Wii Sports was for the Wii!
The Playroom VR is a collection of asymmetrical multiplayer games that highlight the unique capabilities of the PSVR by incorporating both the wearer of the headset and those beside them on the couch, using the social screen. The package is wrapped up in a virtual theme park of sorts; through playing each mini game the player is rewarded with tokens to get toy capsules which then make living dioramas. This aspect is incredibly addictive and it serves as a fantastic demonstration of the sense of immersion and presence that only VR can give the player.
Every game here has fantastic immersion, more than once I felt presence even though the graphics are not realistic at all – it is incredibly easy to forget that you’re wearing a PSVR! Playroom VR is truly a technical marvel and as a package, it is extremely generous indeed; it launched with 5 mini-games and recently it received an update that contained its sixth game. Because there is so much here, I will tackle the games individually in no particular order.
Cat and Mouse
Is Virtual Reality ‘What time is it Mr Wolf?” in which the VR wearer takes the role of a cat who is trying to clear the kitchen out of mice; meanwhile those playing on the social screen are the mice.
It really is a simple game indeed; the cat is hidden from view by a curtain hanging on a cupboard door and they must poke their head out in order to catch the mice, which can only be done if they are still moving. In between this the mice must collect all the cheese that litters the kitchen floor before the timer reaches zero.
While this is a great idea in theory – the reality is that this game is much more fun for the traditional players. There is a certain element of risk and reward because they have no idea what the cat is going to do and the laughter when you are caught is brilliant fun. The VR player on the other hand has only to move their head back and forth which is not very engaging! While it is immensely impressive being in a cupboard and looking through a virtual curtain – this is a game that’s ironically better for the non-VR players.
Is like the table top classic ‘Guess Who’ but with twitch gameplay and some fantastic VR immersion.
The headset wearer is a cute robotic sheriff who must hunt down and shoot criminals (using the Dual Shock 4’s gyro in a brilliant way) in a crowded tavern – the only problem is that they don’t know what the criminal looks like! The social screen players do though; and they must describe the criminal to the VR player. It starts off simple enough; perhaps the criminal has an eye patch or a star on his hat – but soon it gets much harder to discern the true criminal.
This is a good little diversion that’s very good with one social screen player but fantastic with 2 or more – getting those mixed messages as some knowingly sabotage your efforts!
Is very much a reskin of ‘Wanted’ only this time the VR player is a ghost buster who must clear four rooms from ghosts – alas they are invisible and cannot be seen – the social screen players CAN though!
The VR player must (using the Dual Shocks gyro) shine a torch around the room; revealing the ghosts to the social screen players who can then indicate the location of the ghost which can then be sucked into the controller (with a brilliant use of the speaker).
It’s all fun and gets more fun the more social screen players you have!
Is one of the strongest games in the collection. The VR player takes control of a sea monster as it attacks a seaside city, while the social screen players are robotic citizens who are trying to get to an area in which to defend their city.
By swinging their head in different directions the VR player can “kill” the citizens before they get to their defendable area as it crushes buildings and sends debris flying in their direction. Should any of them make it to the end the game changes into a really fun dodge ball style game in which the roles are reversed, the monster is now avoiding debris the robots are throwing.
It’s good, clean simple fun that’s heightened by the voice changing aspect – everything the VR player says comes out of the monsters mouth in a chipmunk style silly voice! It never gets old!
The best game in the collection. It’s a simple 3D platformer in which the VR player alongside the social screen players must rescue robots in a Mario-esque landscape.
What’s unique here though is that it is not first person; its traditional third-person, and it works fantastically well, Japan Studio have nailed nausea-free independent camera control here and that is extremely important for the future of VR!
The game makes great use of the DS4’s unique features especially the underused touchpad – using gryo controls the player aims at hooks and swipes up to fire a dart towing a cable behind it, making tightropes which can be used to traverse large gaps. The social screen players zip around in a hovercraft type thing which can blow or suck platforms causing them to move.
While it’s short and it is necessary for another player to fully complete the game, it is an excellent demonstration of what could be a fantastic use for VR – and the only game here that I want to see a full title of!
The most recent addition to the title is actually really good – It’s a four player tower defence style game in which the players must fend off waves of enemies; the VR player has a first person view of the battlefield from behind a turret while the social screen players have an isometric view as they control giant mechs.
It’s frantic and frenetic as you and your friends try to fend off all the enemies because if even one breaks your defensive line it’s game over! This game proves that the Dual Shock 4 can be just as immersive as the move controllers as you physical move it around to aim – the shooting is incredibly satisfying!
This is a blast to play but it’s another that’s best played with friends as it is challenging alone!
Playroom VR is a great little mini game collection that showcases all of PSVR’s unique selling points. On top of this it is a technical showcase that provides a few hours of fun for the entire family. Sure, all the games are short experiences and yes some are definitely weaker than others. However the highs are very high indeed and because it’s free this is a must “buy” for every PSVR owner!