PSVR2 review round-up #5: Song in the Smoke; Dyschronia; Altair Breaker
Our ongoing series of mini-reviews attempts to cover the broad range of launch titles for Sony’s PSVR2 headset.
From wilderness survival to dream detectives to sword-fighting, you’re not spoiled for thematic choice in this round-up. Read more about the headset and the other games available below.
Song in the Smoke: Rekindled
(PSVR2) **** Age: 15+
Like so many PSVR2 launch titles, Song in the Smoke is a reheat. That’s not a completely terrible thing but as the appendix of Rekindled suggests, you may have seen all of this before elsewhere.
First released on PSVR and PC VR two years ago, it comes to PSVR2 with sharper visuals and a few tweaks but essentially you’re playing the same wilderness survival experience. Eat, craft and fight to survive in this prehistoric landscape that hands you nothing on a plate.
In fact, you might conclude there’s altogether too much reality in this virtual-reality world, because Song in the Smoke insists you perform many actions with a physical gesture via the motion controllers. From banging rocks together to drawing a bow to sifting through your inventory, the game demands multi-step handiwork to meet your needs. In addition to staying on top of hunger and sleep, all of your weapons and ammo must be crafted too. For me, it got really tedious at times.
Fortunately, Song in the Smoke compensates with an engrossing play space, filled with interesting vistas and populated with animals to chase or defend against. The combat errs on the side of intense, which may not be to everyone’s taste in VR, and juggling all of the game’s competing demands make it one of PSVR2’s less relaxing experiences.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate
(PSVR2) ** Age: 15+
It sounds like something Philip K Dick would write. Dyschronia gives us a sci-fi city where the inhabitants spend their time collectively dreaming and only a detective with special powers can solve the murder mystery threatening to undermine society.
But this visual novel is nowhere near as clever as the material it aspires to imitate. You can forgive the relative lack of interactivity, the curiously empty streetscapes and even the awkward interface.
Few will persevere, however, with its lumpen storyline, generously padded with cliches and undone by lacklustre voice performances. To compound those deterrents, this is only the first of three planned episodes so you’ll have to wait several months for the whole thing to play out.
(PSVR2) ** Age: 15+
This could one of those games that become notorious for players smashing things in their living room while in VR – partly because it requires plenty of space for its sword-fighting moves. But also because you’ll probably become frustrated with the game’s limitations.
To call it a tech demo would be unfair to polished software. Altair Breaker puts in you in a small selection of arenas to cross swords with a handful of robot types. The motion tracking accurately depicts your actions and your first few fights might seem a promising introduction.
But then Altair Breaker begins to repeat itself, its technical shortcomings frequently on show. You’ll quickly realise there’s scant depth to its promise of a rich multiplayer online world.