A whole new world.
When it comes to indie gaming, the PSVR is a platform that rarely receives the spotlight. However, if you dig deep enough you can discover a whole treasure trove of titles that warrant your attention. True, you won’t find many beloved classics nestled within its backlog (though there are a handful), but there’s still a whole wealth of exclusives here that are bolstered by the platform’s added sense of physicality and spatial depth. This, coupled with the system’s rapidly declining price tag, makes it a must-have for those seeking new ways to get their indie fix.
A platform is only as good as the games that it accommodates and fortunately, in the case of the PSVR, there are plenty of standouts. Within the indie scene, Moss, Arizona Sunshine, and Statik immediately spring to mind, three titles with a Metacritic score of above 80%. The platform shows no signs of faltering either, as it has reportedly sold 4.2 million units and smaller developers continue to populate the PS Store with exciting new experiences. Looming on the horizon, Undead Citadel, Falcon Age and Golem show the platform still has plenty to deliver.
The PSVR also makes for a great way to revisit cherished titles in a whole new light. Superhot, Solus Project, and Chromagun have all made the leap into VR and have transitioned wonderfully, allowing players to peer more deeply into, and interact in new ways within, their worlds. Chromagun has been made compatible with the PS Aim controller, giving it a realistic sense of touch and precise fire. Meanwhile, Superhot also excels in VR. An enhancement of Superhot’s claustrophobic hallways, VR makes flicking the PS Move controllers to throw weapons and projectiles feel far more like your own actions, opening a whole new world of identification and presence within the game world.
Many PSVR titles have also been built from the ground up with the platform in mind, making for an experience you will struggle to find elsewhere. Arca’s Path sees you guide its protagonist, Super Monkey Ball-style, across a gorgeous pastel-coloured landscape using only the motion of tilting your head in the required direction. In Statik, you have your hands locked in a series of curious devices and the objective, of course, is to break free from your shackles.
I found VR to amplify the sense of isolation and urgency here as, glancing down, it felt as though the blinking lights and dials were strapped to my own wrist and there was no moving until the current puzzle was solved. It’s these kinds of unique experiences that offer PSVR a podium for success, and it’s these experiences we should be focusing on when looking to further that success, rather than static ports and VR-esque levels of standard games.
Grabbing your own headset has never been cheaper. Since debuting in October 2016, PSVR has continued to plummet in price and you can now grab a games bundle for around £200. This is especially enticing when comparable to the much more costly competition of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, which demand a powerful gaming PC to operate alongside. It’s also worth noting that the PSVR is currently the only dedicated VR experience on consoles (not counting you, Nintendo Labo), so it’s an obvious pick if you are predominately a console player.
VR as a platform is still in its infancy and I feel that the best is yet to come as developers become more familiar with its fledgling toolset. Consider just how far we’ve come with 3D gaming, after all. There are still so many unique directions for indie developers to take VR in, and the PSVR represents the most accessible entry point into these types of experiences. The future for PSVR appears bright and platform has already proven its staying power. There’s no way this is just another Kinect waiting to happen.
Speaking of its bright future, it appears that the PSVR may be functional with Sony’s next-generation console. A recent interview with Sony’s Mark Cerny revealed that the ninth generation will have backwards compatibility from the get-go. Of course, with the PSVR falling under the banner of the PS4, it’s fair to assume that its library will be fully functional with our shiny new machines. We’re sure that a new revision or a successor will be along sometime soon but at least we’ll get some decent mileage out of the current PSVR hardware.
With its modest price tag and quality titles, the PSVR is the best place to experience VR indies on a budget. It also represents a new way to relive some old favourites and offers up experiences you just won’t find anywhere else. So goggle up, and I’ll see you in the OASIS (in a few years).