We aren't going to be covering any of the free titles such as Rec Room, VR Chat, Bigscreen or PokerStars (although we think these titles are great too).
This is part one of what will hopefully be a series of brief game reviews for the Oculus Quest. Let’s start in alphabetical order, simply ‘cause it's prettier…
Angry Birds: Isle of PigsWe were equal parts sceptical and curious about Angry Birds in VR at the beginning, worried it would just be a motion-controlled port of the mobile titles, while also curious of what else they could do to the franchise to make it feel fresh. If you aren’t sure what the premise of Angry Birds is, it’s a physics-based game that tasks you with aiming birds at structures that house (green?) pigs, causing as much destruction with the least amount of birds while taking out all the pigs for the highest score, it’s a mobile phenomenon and has spawned countless sequels, spins offs and animated movies.
If you’ve played any single one of its mobile counterparts you’ll feel immediately at home with it in VR, you hold the catapult in one hand and aim and fire your birds with the other. You can pick designated places around the map to view the structures and pigs from, which actually adds three-dimensional strategy to each level. One angle might give you a better advantage than others so you’re constantly switching angles to try better your approach.
Angry Birds: Isle of Pigs translates much better to VR than you’d expect and is great for a casual, seated, half an hour to spare fun. My only complaint right now would be the relatively low amount of levels, but the devs are aiming to bring the level count beyond 100 before the year is up so post-launch support will only bring more value for your money. We think all Quest titles are a little over-priced right now so without taking that into consideration, Angry Birds gets a solid...
Apex ConstructThis one is a self-described story-driven, single-player, action/adventure game. Armed initially with a futuristic-looking and satisfying to use bow and arrow, you start exploring an overgrown and partially demolished, almost post-apocalyptic environment. Hunted by robots and assisted by an atmospheric drenched AI sounding voice, one we grew to really dislike as the story went on – not because it said anything wrong, just because it’s really not a very nice voice to listen to for all that long..
The game gives you small clues and puzzles to solve to break up combat and exploration elements which are a nice addition but can sometimes slow the game down too much, the pacing doesn’t seem ideal for a game that requires you to have a heavy monitor hanging from your face; especially when you’re not quite sure if you’re fully enjoying it or not yet. Item manipulation in the game is generous, almost anything can be picked up and observed but was pretty rough around the edges as items regularly clipped through walls or other objects, causing them to freak out and break the sense of world immersion.
Given enough time we imagine the story would become incredibly engrossing and you’d get into the swing of the game’s fragmented pacing and storytelling. But if we’re honest, we got much more sucked into other games in this list of a similar genre earlier on. That said, we will be giving this game at least a few more hours of our time and if our opinion changes, we’ll update you in part two – but for now we’re stamping it...
Dance CentralThis one is partially totally what we expected, and on the other hand an utter surprise! Dance Central is a long-standing and popular dancing game published by Microsoft and isn’t one new to motion controls as various titles in the franchise have been released that take advantage of the Xbox’s Kinect sensor. The 32 included music tracks are popular and relevant, not particularly our taste in OP but they'll likely be enjoyed by the target audience.
In this one you are based in what appears to be a dance club and can move from room to room meeting dancers and staff at the club, learning new moves and getting contact details so that you can arrange to dance with them when you like. The visual style is odd and a little off-putting, almost like you’re dancing with PS2 era Rock Band characters, but not without an element of charm and personality. Your own character customisation is very limited with what seemed like a gender-neutral system, which on paper is fine, but for those of us who very much have no problem sticking with our default biological gender, I was never fully comfortable with how my avatar ended up looking - a shame as Rock Band avatars are awesome!
While the dancing doesn’t feel completely authentic without full-body tracking (it really only tracks your hands and head) and the idea of trying to appear stylish or elegant while dancing with a huge blob of plastic on your face is one of almost self-aware silliness, it does have one standout feature that took us off guard… Multiplayer. That’s right, certain rooms in the game allow for both competitive and cooperative gameplay as well as public chat areas, which takes away some of the anti-social nature of dancing alone in VR and is very welcomed addition to the game. With cross-platform play with Oculus Rift it gets an easy...
Job SimulatorWhat might at first seem like a short gimmicky experience, soon turns in to a child's playpen of joy. Job Simulator gives you 4 to 5 different jobs roles to choose, from a mechanic to a standard office worker and then offers you two paths of play, pay attention to your superior's orders and follow them, listening to the humorous voice acting and stupid scenarios unfold in front of you, or to completely ignore these orders and just mess around with your surroundings and the objects within, almost every item has a function and if it doesn't, you can just launch it across the room. There's no story or narrative as such, no grinding, no end goal, no good or bad decisions.. just mindless fun and giggles all the way.
Another thing that is hugely impressive with Job Simulator is its almost perfect object manipulation (is there an official term for this?), you can pick up, spin, swap hands and colliding with other items or your surroundings does not clip through them like in other titles. It's just good fun to play with almost everything in the game and the physics just feel right, this is something other VR games struggle with and had this game suffered these same issues, it would be half the fun that it is.
With maybe half an hours content in each job, you're likely only going to get 2-3 hours fresh gameplay out of the game before you resort to just messing around to see what you can do with all the items and the physics they abide by. For the price, this could be seen as fairly expensive for some, but for its humour, immersion, physics, silliness and charm we think its worth a punt if you're more just a pick-up and play kinda guy or gal. Naturally, we'd give this a top score, but with lack of long-term content and hiked price considered, it gets a respectable...
MossSo I’m soon to be a 32-year-old man, who thinks all babies look like frogs with radiation poisoning, would rather squeeze puppies and kittens than take pictures of them and thinks most anime is annoying, not cute. But the mouse in Moss... is freaking… adorable! The way she looks around, jumps, fights, yelps, points, gets scared… Everything she does is heart-meltingly adorbz!
The game is set from the perspective of an onlooker to Quill’s adventure. You not only control Quill (who is a freaking cute mouse!), but manipulate the world around her to help her traverse it. All of this is delivered to the player seamlessly. One hugely impressive element of Moss, however, is how graphically impressive it looks on the Quest, no matter how close you get to the textures they still hold their own and taking in the environment around you especially during the in-engine cut scenes is just a joy in itself.
We’ve played very little of Moss so far but it’s the one we’re most excited to sink more time in to, perfect for those who just want to chill out in their armchair or in bed and help your (have I mentioned adorable?) mouse explore a beautiful and charming world. The price is weighty and we’ve heard reports that for the price the game isn’t particularly long, but right now we’re having so much fun we’d find it hard to give it anything below a...
Orbus VR: RebornThe first real MMORPG to come to the Quest and maybe even to VR in general, Orbus VR: Reborn is an RPG that can be played online with others, socially cooperative or trash-talkingly competitive (yes talkingly is a word stop re-reading it!). With combat and skill-based talents to train, worlds to explore, creatures to kill and raids to complete – the game is a fully-fledged RPG with no shortage of content to keep you busy.
It has a similar avatar style to social games like Rec Room and Bigscreen and the world is very colourful and smooth so comes across initially as a very kid-friendly game but the depth and price tag alone keep this mostly to a mature audience. If you’re into other casual MMOs and enjoy getting sucked deep into a game’s world and lore then Orbus does its best to cover all corners, but some may find that it isn’t quite meaty enough to sink their RPG-sharpened teeth in to.
However, one thing that either makes or breaks MMOs is their community, and from our short time playing around in the game, users were very friendly, chatty and helpful and if you found a group of people you could relate to and have fun with, you’d have an excellent time grinding out skills and raids with your crew. Not enough VR games are socially aware but Orbus shows others how it should be done! For sheer scale, amount of content and social aspects we’re stamping it with an...
Shadow PointThis is, unfortunately, the game we struggled with the most and the rating will mostly reflect our level of enjoyment and not what the game has to offer for those who like its playstyle in general. Avoiding any plot spoilers, Shadow Point is as much about the rich story as it is about puzzle-solving. To get its good points out of the way first, SP is a pretty and soft game with charmingly voice British actors that leads you on a journey about a missing girl, a story that keeps you intrigued. You go from area to area solving light and shadow based puzzles that involve you lifting certain objects in front of rays of light to match a drawing or shape, tilting and bringing closer or further away to get a closer match.
While we didn't get too deep into the game, it would appear this puzzle mechanic is the driving one in the game, and its unfortunately not a very clever one at that, getting just the right tilt on a ball or box to fill the outline of shapes makes you feel like a toddler trying to place shapes through the corresponding holes and gets old fairly quickly. There are lots of objects and trinkets around the world but the only ones intractable are those that are directly linked to puzzles or help progress the game, and while this was probably decided to prevent players getting confused with items, it does make the world feel a little like a canvas, and not one you are actually in. On top of that your hands can clips through almost everything in the game besides walls, hampering any immersion.
Shadow Point clearly has a lot to offer for fans of story-rich puzzle games and maybe we'd have enjoyed it a little more after we got past the frustrations of learning the game's concept, but at OP we believe if a game doesn't pull you in within the first half an hour, it probably isn't for you, and that's all the more true in VR where you can become fatigued and frustrated more easily. We're certainly not saying Shadow Point is not worth your time, but if you aren't heavily in to the genres it sits in, we'd at least wait for a sale. Shadow Point has the potential to flourish within its target audience, but for us its flaws prevent it from scoring higher than a...
Space Pirate TrainerAn odd one this one, really not the sort of thing you’d expect from the name or promotional art used to market the game. Put overly simple its a wave shooter that isn’t too dissimilar to a VR rendition of Space Invaders. Now in 2019 Space Invaders is boring, Space Pirate Trainer, however, is as far away from that as virtually possible!
You start stood in a single spot with two guns, that you can change on the fly to shoot in different styles, lasers, grenades, pulse, shotguns, all at the flick of an analogue stick. And you shoot enemies that rise from the depths below in increasingly difficult waves – this is fun enough, but I was totally missing what made this title jump from fun to simply exhilarating. Raise your hands over your shoulders and you pull out a shield in one hand and in the other a spinning spiked club with a gravity whip on the end that you can grab enemies with and slam them to the ground all while dodging their incoming fire in matrix-style bullet time. So much fun it should be illegal!
The only negatives would be the incredibly poor detail on objects in the distance, I’ve seen other games get this at a good-decent level on the Quest but in SPT the distant objects just seem lazily slapped there and visually downgraded to the point of sheer ugliness. Another thing I wish they included was for time to slow down when you are changing your gun type, similar to what Doom 2016 did. Besides that Space Pirate Trainer is an absolute blast and can only get better from here!
Superhot VRThe Matrix, Max Payne, BulletStorm, Stranglehold... all these titles have the same thing in common, bullet-time! A mode that slows down time allowing you the precision to avoid incoming fire and line up your shots to clear out a room before time speeds back up. Superhot picks this concept up and throws its own spin on things. The game is split into bite-size stages that pit you against a handful of enemies, but in Superhot, time only moves when you do. Looking around for weapons to grab, you’re often trying to weigh up who to take out, in which order and with what weapons before someone gets to you and takes you out, dodging bullets in slow motion as you go.
To begin with, Superhot can be incredibly frustrating as checkpoints only seem to trigger once every 3-4 scenarios, if you die towards the end of a stage you’re taken back and tasked with doing it all again, even if you fluked it the first time! There’s also so much turning and moving around that it’s incredibly easy to lose a sense of your real-world surroundings and swipe a noticeboard off the wall (just a random example, my noticeboard is fine!).
These are however frustrations that will get better as you improve at the game and don’t detract from the enjoyment Superhot has to offer in the slightest! The satisfaction you feel when you pick up an ashtray with one hand, throw it blindly to the left taking out one guy, instantly catch his gun, duck to avoid incoming fire and then headshot two guys trying to rush you is like nothing else. Deserves nothing less than...
The WizardsFor Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans everywhere, The Wizards will get your magic senses tingling. Set in a fantasy world, with great graphics (for the hardware), intimidating enemies and a charming yet sassy narrator, The Wizards tasks you with learning spells and defensive abilities to explore a vast world and defend yourself from trolls, ogres and other fantasy-inspired creatures.
The gesture-based spells are well executed and worked a good majority of the time, unlike many games that attempt the same idea. Once you get into the flow of dodging and teleporting away from enemies while you cook up spells and fire them in their direction, the combat starts to feel incredibly satisfying. Switching between an ice bow to a palm-held fireball, ducking under 12-foot tall ogre’s arms slamming to the ground is intense and exciting. Between combat, the gameplay is broken up with exploring and learning the game’s features and functionalities with the wit and sass of the narrator, very much a joy to listen to, unlike Apex Construct’s dreary voiceover.
If you’re not into fantasy themes and magic spells then the general tone of the game might start to grind on you eventually but I found the gameplay tight and the narration interesting enough to keep me intrigued, despite not being that much of a fan of the fantasy setting. So far The Wizards has a lot to offer and pulls a weighty punch on the Oculus Quest hardware, demands at least an...
Do you have an Oculus Quest? Which games are you enjoying the most so far? Has it met, failed to meet or exceeded your expectations?