Today, the PlayStation VR is finally available in South Africa. It’s the first non-mobile, commercially available head-mounted VR unit available in the country, and retails for R6499. That’s a heck of a lot of money for an accessory – especially if you factor in the required PlayStation camera, the optional Move controllers and the games you’ll want to play as well.
We’ve been fortunate enough to have a PlayStation VR unit for a few months now, and have played through most of the launch software. If you’ve picked up a PlayStation VR today, here are the games you’ll want to play:
Rush of Blood employs an overbearing use of rote horror imagery, but its immediacy in VR makes it an effective horror game. Brevity aside, Rush of Blood is a PlayStation VR game that you want to own, because it’s one of the best games to demo the PlayStation VR with.
Yes, it’s an on-rail shooter, not dissimilar from the light-gun games of yore, but once you strap on the VR headset it becomes a surreal, genuinely frightening experience. It also does away with motion sickness, by putting you in a cart that’s moving along a track, like a creepy rollercoaster. This sort of constrained movement cleverly tricks your brain in to allowing you to move along while remaining seated, doing away with the cognitive dissonance that free movement games invoke. Still, the effect is mesmerising and gripping, and everyone who I’ve made play this has moved back in their seats, holding themselves upright as the virtual cart barrels down its track. It can feel like you’re on a rollercoaster, and it’s a wild ride.
In VR, you really, really are Batman. Set within the very same universe set up in their superlative superhero games, it differs wildly from the action games that spawned it. Where those were great big, sprawling worlds that seamlessly blended strong storytelling, exploration, sleuthing and revolutionary combat, this is a much more muted affair.
Here, once you’re suited up, you’ll mostly be playing the role of the Greatest Detective – piecing together clues from a first person perspective. I don’t want to detail the story too much because that’s its crucial hook, but from the onset, Arkham VR is gripping. It starts off with the same Batman Origin story you’ve seen and played through a million times, only this time it feels real – and you get, perhaps, a deeper understanding of little Bruce Wayne’s shattered psyche.
It’s a perfect showcase for the potential of VR to deliver powerful experience, even if it is criminally lacking in content. Rocksteady’s previous Arkham games let you understand what it might be like to be the Dark Knight, this really makes you feel like you are Batman.
Thumper is still my favourite game to Play in VR – and one of the few ones I still regularly return to. It’s an odd rhythm game, but it’s more than that. Imbued with a terrible feeling of tension and dread, the game feels more like a survival horror than the sort of brightly-coloured, light entertainment music-based games tend to be. Horror disguised as rhythm. In it, you pilot a silver, scarab-like beetle…thing around courses, tapping buttons to chilling beats of its tribal war drums. It’s abstract as hell, with a relentless pace as you manoeuvre tight corners. It’s got a sophisticated, nuanced set of mechanics that belie its single button controls.
Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil 7 throws you into the shoes of brand new protagonist, Ethan Winters. He’s no cop, nor is he a special agent with years of training. He’s legit just a regular guy, on the search for his wife, Mia, who has been missing for three years. A video where she very clearly tells him to “stay away” leads him to Dulvey, Louisiana, where, in classic Resident Evil fashion, he encounters a creaky old mansion. Naturally it’s filled with its own share of secrets, and of course, scares. The latter is thanks largely to the resident Baker family, who’ll spend the duration of the game making your life a living hell.
Capcom’s returned to its roots with Resident Evil, but it’s also looking to the future, adding in full VR support to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game is already terrifying and tense, but that terror takes on a whole new dimension in VR.
Rez is a game that was released on the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2. It’s an on rails, tracking shooter that’s over 15 years old now, but it’s been given a new life thanks to Rez Infinite, a remake of the game that gives it crisp HD visuals and a new clarity to its pulsating electronic soundtrack.
In VR, It’s almost like the game has finally lived up to its promise with the newly added Area X. It’s a perfect fit, and the best way to experience Rez’s promises of synaesthesia; a beautiful symbiosis of sight and sound.
There are many, many other games available for the launch of the PlayStation VR – but these five are the ones I’ve loved most.