This article was originally published at Den of Geek UK.
It’s been a bit of a year, the kind where more and more people are screaming “Stop the world, I want to get off!” While technology’s not quite got us there yet, you can escape, albeit temporarily, into an alternative reality, thanks to the conveniently timed launch of Playstation VR.
I’ve been tinkering around with it for the past few weeks and am completely in love with it. However, tediously, it turns out I’m one of those weak-constitutioned people that very quickly wants to lie down in a dark room and vomit into the carpet if I play anything even slightly “spinny.” I’m not alone, and so, for those of you who are similarly afflicted, here are my top 10 PS VR experiences that won’t make you ill…
10. Pixel Gear
As viewers of my show Go 8 Bit will no doubt be aware, I’m somewhat into the retro aesthetic. This lovely little game from Geronimo Interactive sticks you on the spot with a couple of guns, and leaves you to blast wave after wave of pixel monsters as they work their way towards you. It’s not a particularly long game (there are only three levels), but it’s worth your time if you can spare the money.
Generally, at the moment PS VR games don’t offer as much bang for your buck as traditional titles so I won’t wang on about that every time here, just bear it in mind. If you want to sample everything PS VR has to offer, it’s going to involve paying a premium, for now at least.
9. PS VR Worlds: Ocean Descent
Having just said I won’t talk about money, I’m immediately going to contradict myself by flagging up that, as many others have pointed out, this collection of mini-games and tech demos should probably have been included with the headset for free rather than sold separately but, as an introduction to the potential of VR, it does a fairly good job. Some of the stuff here (Scavenger’s Odyssey in particular) is definitely not for the weak-stomached, but the gentle Ocean Descent is probably the first one you’re going to let granny have a go on. Nothing to do, no controls, just sit back and let the experience unfold around you.
8. Playroom VR: Robots Rescue
Playroom VR, in contrast to PS VR Worlds, is available for free, and there’s a hidden gem in there I’d encourage everyone to have a play on if they haven’t already. Robots Rescue is essentially a non-copyright-infringing level of Super Mario 3D World, and is a glimpse into how platforming could work in this new medium. If they made a full game from this, I would like that very much please, thank you.
If Rez Infinite looks like your cup of tea, but it’s a bit too much for your tummy to take, give Thumper a go. While both are “on rails,” this one’s rails are visible and fixed. You’re only ever looking straight ahead, and that seemed to be enough to keep me from getting the brain wobbles. Your virtual mileage may vary with this one though, as it certainly whizzes along.
At face value, this might seem the polar opposite of Thumper – from breakneck-speeds and lightning-fast reactions to slowly, carefully making a pile of things. But, actually, there’s far more to it than that. Some of the levels are stacking challenges, but you’ll just as often be fiddling with lasers or blowing things up.
5. Kitchen (demo)
This free teaser for Resident Evil 7 ties you to a chair as things play out to their terrifyingly inevitable conclusion. Definitely not one for kids, this one, but a better option for grown-ups who want to try something spooky in VR without the motion of Until Dawn or Here They Lie. Fair warning, though – while Kitchen won’t make you feel sick, if you’re of a nervous disposition it might activate your other food removal pipe.
4. Wayward Sky
A point-and-click puzzler, this one cleverly shifts from third-person to first-person views depending on whether you’re directing your character around the world or solving things with the various buttons, levers, and pulleys you’ll be getting your virtual hands on. Lovely art style, enough of a plot to hang things on, and different to everything else on the system at the moment.
Oh man, I love this one so much. It’s a realtime strategy game that places you above a little world populated by “Peeps.” You direct them to carry out tasks while sitting on clouds – no God game has ever made you feel this much like an actual God! I feel this isn’t reflecting well on me. I’m a control freak, conceded, but don’t let my lust for power put you off. This is one of the fullest experiences available on PS VR to date, and while the VR enhances gameplay significantly, this would stand up on its own without any of the razzmatazz the new tech offers.
Not a game, this one, but an animated movie you can explore by peeking inside and around things. It’s absolutely beautiful, and it’s free! Also, it’s the thing that convinced my wife I hadn’t wasted $400 on another toy, so bonus points for that. If you enjoy this, LittlStar VR Cinema’s worth grabbing too –a free app that has a decent number of curated VR animations and short films for you to watch immersively.
1. Batman: Arkham VR
Unsurprisingly, it’s Batman that takes the number one slot. Yes, given the price tag, some may feel it’s too short of an experience, but you can be Batman. YOU CAN BE BATMAN. Make sure you snag a couple of Move controllers too before you play this one – it’s fine with the controller, but it’s a thousand times more immersive when you’re actually throwing baterangs.
Honourable mention: Driveclub VR
This one was so nearly on the list but, in the end, I had to bump it because of one major caveat – it didn’t make me feel queasy, but only when also played with a steering wheel and pedals. When playing with a controller, I had the usual issues – cockpit views don’t seem to help me at all. But, when playing with my father’s wheel and pedals (not a euphemism, he’s a big racing game fan, grow up), the sense of location completely changed things. If you can afford to buy all that kit, it’s an incredible experience. Albeit one that costs roughly the same as an actual car.
Steve McNeil is co-creator of, and team captain on, Dara O Briain’s Go 8-Bit. You can find him on Twitter, here.