[UPDATED] Editor’s Review Guide to PlayStation VR Games and Applications

on November 8, 2016 12:50 PM

The PlayStation VR has finally hit the market and with it dozens of games, experiences and everything in between. Along with the PlayStation VR headset, DualShockers has tried out as many games as we could get our hand on and (after spending countless hours in other realities) we are ready to make a few summary judgments on where you should be spending your money.

Below, check out our brief reviews of both the PlayStation VR games as well as the major applications coming out — and yes, we will keep this list updated through the launch window:

Oct. 25 Update: Added SportsBar VR — next on the list is Kismet

Nov. 8 Update: Added Kismet.

Upcoming Update: Robinson: The Journey; Catlateral Damage; Weeping Doll, Pixel Gear.


The Games:

100ft Robot Golf: Try It

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Developer: No Goblin LLC
Price: $19.99

100ft Robot Golf is a fantastic mashup of games I would never expect to merge, in games or otherwise. Featuring Sunday-morning-cartoon style anime robots and dead pan comedy from golf commentators, the experience clicks stylistically and will regularly keep you laughing. Utilizing the PSVR headset, players will be able to see from the perspective of the 100 foot behemoths as you knock down buildings, fly from place to place, and — of course — try to hit a few birdies.

And while the experience hits a ton of high notes stylistically, the gameplay (as compared to other golf titles) leave some to be desired. If you are looking to get a chuckle or two in between knocking down buildings in a first-person perspective, this is the game to play. Meanwhile, if you are looking for a dynamic and deep golfing gameplay experience, you may be better off without it.

Ace Banana: Skip It

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Developer: Oasis Games Ltd.
Price: $14.99

Ace Banana appears to be the kind of freeware game you would expect from a standard virtual reality launch… except $15 overpriced. An arcadey shooter, Ace Banana is one of the worst controlling VR experiences I played all weekend. Looking past the rigid controls, the game suffers more than enough technical hiccups to really throw a wrench in any enjoyment you could possibly derive from the title.

Batman: Arkham VR: Buy It

Batman Arkham VR

Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Price: $19.99

Batman: Arkham VR is a pretty awesome experience. I’ve never been one for comic books or superhero films, but being able to see Gotham and be Bruce Wayne as he gears up in his Batsuit is an almost surreal experience — and one that should be tried by anyone looking for an immersive experience.

Starting briefly with Batman’s origins, you are let loose in the Batcave with the mission to find Nightwing and Robin who have mysteriously fallen off the radar. Along the way, players are able to interact with some of the most notable locations, weapons, characters. and props found in Batman’s universe.

I can say confidently that playing Batman: Arkham VR was the first virtual reality game (on PlayStation VR) I really lost myself in. As I rifled through the props of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, I forgot about the world around me and felt entirely invested in the experience. Tearing the headset off after the relatively short trip felt like being ripped out of the matrix.

And while this is an easy recommendation across the board, it is largely a technical showpiece. Though Batman has such broad appeal it can be shown to nearly anyone, the game’s short length will turn a few off. Players are offered a bit of replay value with some hidden puzzles, but it is hardly a wealth of content. Even so, it’s an experience I’ve been describing to my friends and family — one of the best on PlayStation VR, bar none

Battlezone: Try It

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Developer: Rebellion
Price: $59.99

Rebellion has offered up a dynamic tank game — however, tank games rarely have unanimous wide appeal even among core gamers. Featuring a Tron-like atmosphere, players are tasked with recapturing the surface from enemy tanks, towers, and more. While there is undoubtedly a lot of fun to be had (especially for those with ties to the original property), the game is at it’s best when you are playing with three other friends. However, finding three friends willing to invest in the $60 title (as well as the $499 PSVR headset) is simply not too realistic, even among my group of die-hard PlayStation enthusiast friends.

Without friends willing to team up on the experience, Battlezone is a repetitive slog — one that largely remains true to its roots gameplay-wise. However, with the right group of friends, Battlezone will offer a satisfying playground for modest destruction, teamwork and excitement.

DRIVECLUB VR: Try It

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Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Price: $19.99

As a huge fan of the original DriveclubDriveclub VR hits a little below the mark regarding quality. Of course, given PSVR’s resolution (so close to the face) it is hardly practical to expect graphical parity between the original and VR versions. However, even still, the game often feels ill-suited for VR at times.

Many critics and players have mentioned motion-sickness while playing Driveclub VR; while I personally never experienced it, it is clear that the constant movement and directional shifts (when combined with the lack of actual motion your body is experiencing) would cause this with many divers… especially inexperienced ones spinning out.

If you are a huge fan of driving sims, this is the game to play on PSVR. However, if you are new to the subgenre or haven’t experienced racing titles in VR, it is worth testing out first to see whether or not your stomach will be able to handle it.

EVE: Valkyrie: Buy It

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Developer: CCP Games
Price: $59.99

EVE: Valkyrie has for many months been positioned as the first traditional game coming to PlayStation VR. Touted as a full console experience with the VR headset, the game doesn’t disappoint.

After a pretty amazing opener and a somewhat cheesey premise, players will be able to take on the cosmos in galactic battle. Thanks to intuitive gameplay and pristine graphical fidelity – even on the often-pixelated or blurry PSVR – the game is PlayStation VR’s technical showpiece.

EVE: Valkyrie will of course speak more to people interested in science fiction, flight simulators, and dog fights – however, anyone interested in the power of VR and the potential for games down the line will need to try this out. It is truly the only single-player experience I can see myself playing weeks or months from now.

Harmonix Music VR: Skip It

Harmonix

Developer: Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.
Price: $14.99

While I went into Harmonix Music VR hoping for some pretty surreal visualizations – and to some extent got that – I remained mostly underwhelmed by the experience. Perhaps that is due to the fact that the default music options seem so bare-boned, but this is a pure tech-demo if I’ve ever seen one.

There are clear ways to elevate Harmonix Music VR – if the experience let you sync Spotify or your own personal soundtracks, I could see myself having far more fun exploring my own hand selected playlists and soundtracks. However, as the package stands right now, you may be better off turning on your own tunes and looking into a kaleidoscope rather than spending $15 on a game you will likely only pick up once.

Hatsune Miku: VR Live: Skip It

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Developer: Sega of America, Inc.
Price: FREE (with $14.99 paid DLC for each stage)

I’m going to preface this “review” by saying I relatively enjoyed my “experience” with Hatsune Miku: VR Live. Far less a game than a passive virtual concert, this is an experience reserved for hardcore fans of Hatsune Miku. Players are placed in a spot in the crowd and are able to experience the crazy, glowstick-surrounded atmosphere that a Miku concert would entail. Besides being able to wave your glowstick around… there isn’t much else to do besides listen and watch Hatsune Miku perform.

So yeah – this game isn’t going to appeal to everyone. And for the fairly steep $15-per-concert price tag, this will likely price out the people who are simply looking to try out the game. But if you are someone who doesn’t mind the entry ticket to the virtual concert, or if you already know the lyrics to all her songs, this is going to be an experience to try out.

Headmaster: Buy It

headmaster

Developer: Frame Interactive Studio LLC
Price: $19.99

Headmaster is one of those experiences that could only truly exist on VR headsets. Kidnapped and placed in a reconditioning camp for simply being bad at soccer [Editor’s Note: which isn’t remotely far from the truth], you are put through the ringer to become better at heading balls into the goal.

While that sounds like it would get tedious fairly quickly, satisfying difficulty progressions, dark humor, and a simply fun mechanic keeps the game fresh and interesting for hours. Sure, it often felt like my “headers” were somewhat random, however I pin that as a personal failing. As I mentioned, I’m bad at soccer. But I had a hell of a time failing.

Job Simulator: Buy It

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Developer: OWLCHEMY LABS, INC.
Price: $29.99

Job Simulator is a riot. After spending roughly two hours exploring each and every environment, I can’t say I’ve laughed so hard in a while. A game instantly relatable to anyone who has held a job, the game touches tropes, customs and nonsense of working in anywhere from a cubicle to in an auto shop.

Taking place in the distant future, all jobs have been automated and experiencing the traditional work environments is a sort of thrill ride. As you complete tasks given by your employers, you will interact with a playground of throwable, eatable, and interesting objects.

For instance, after eating a moldy donut and pouring some coffee and honey on my boss, I photocopied a plant which (instead of printing out a picture of the plant) reproduced an exact copy of the plant. I then took the plant, threw it in the shredder, bombarding my boss with even more nonsense.

Developer Owlchemy Labs has produced a world that is not only interesting, but satisfyingly interactive. Job Simulator is a game that shouldn’t be missed by anyone with a love of goofy humor.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes: Buy It

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Developer: STEEL CRATE GAMES, INC.
Price: $14.99

I’ve had a lot of fun with PlayStation VR the past couple of days, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is PSVR’s killer app – provided you have the friends or company to play along.

The premise is simple: The person in the VR headset is alone in a room where he can see an intricate bomb with wires, batteries, knobs, buttons, and – most importantly – an ever-decreasing timer. Meanwhile, one or more players on the outside aren’t able to see the bomb at all, but they do have manual with detailed instructions on how to defuse it. Using stellar communication skills and collaboration, players work to bridge the gap and defuse the bomb before the timer runs out.

If the game sounds fun, it is even more exhilarating in practice. Neither the bomb nor the manual are straightforward, leading to some hefty problem solving and all-around anxiety – but the good kind of anxiety, one that will leave you satisfied with each victory. Each puzzle is unique and has their own strategy, and difficulty progresses in a way that will keep you challenged throughout. Also, with the $14.99 price tag, the game is easily one of the most affordable titles on the current PSVR market.

Put bluntly, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the perfect party game for PSVR. Fun for the people inside and outside the headset, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Loading Human: Chapter 1: Skip It

loading-human

Developer: Maximum Games
Price: $39.99

was hoping to enjoy Loading Human way more than I did, but the game/story felt more like a confusing stumble into VR controls than anything else.

Offering some expansive environments, interesting storytelling and solid visuals, the game is plagued by standard control problems and technical glitches – especially when being used with the recommended PlayStation Move controllers. The experience felt jarring in general and hard to immerse yourself in – regardless of story.

The PlayRoom VR: Buy It

playroom-vr

Developers: SIE Japan Studios, Double Fine Producitons, Firesprite
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Price: FREE

Unlike a lot of freeware available in PlayStation VR’s first week, I actually enjoyed my time with The PlayRoom VR. A natural extension to the original PlayRoom – an AR experience – PlayRoom VR acts as a Wii Sports to PSVR. Players are given a handful of single-player and multiplayer options and game modes, incorporating cooperative and competitive play. The atmosphere and game design between the various modes are diverse, showing off a 3D platformer, Cowboy-themed first-person shooter, and more.

There is a ton of value hiding behind PlayRoom’s free pricetag, and the game serves as a perfect jumping-off point to virtual reality skeptics at any age.

PlayStation VR Worlds: Try It

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Developer: Sony London Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Price: $39.99

PlayStation VR Worlds is the tech demo game. Showcased in nearly any environment that you would find the PlayStation VR, the experiences are far more flash than substance. A game which aims to show the possibilities of PlayStation VR, you are able to explore underwater seascapes, take part in organized crime, play an interesting head-tracking sport and much more.

And while the selection is diverse, every experience feels shallow. Each experience was enjoyable in the moment, but ultimately felt soulless – in other words, a standard tech demo. While all of the experiences are ones worth playing, I can’t imagine ever wanting to head back into it after your first playthrough.

Rez Infinite: Buy It

rez infinite

Developer: Enhance Games
Price: $29.99

Rez Infinite is everything I’ve always imagined VR would be in the 90’s: Tron-esque visuals, deceptively simple gameplay, and rad music. Fast-forward to now and my childhood dreams were spot on – Rez Infinite is a joy to get lost in and is easily one of the best games (versus experiences) of PlayStation VR.

Thanks to the upbeat music and often surreal visuals, this is a game that is easy to get lost in. More importantly, it is a game that is far more indicative into what the future of VR will hold for us… even if it feels firmly rooted in the past.

RIGS Mechanized Combat League: Buy It

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Developer: Guerilla Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Price: $49.99

RIGS is a game worth trying before buying, but it remains a solid recommendation nonetheless. PlayStation VR’s signature competitive multiplayer title, players go head-to-head against others in Mech-based killing contests. One of the thing the game nails off-the-bat is competitive, first-person controls in a competitive environment. Mixed with the commentary and the roar of the crowd, playing the game will get downright addicting over time and you shouldn’t be surprised if you lose hours after the common “one more round” mentality.

Unfortunately, this is a game that is truly only geared to the core audience – gamers who aren’t big into online or multiplayer-centric titles will likely not catch the buy. But for everyone else, the game is a solid purchase and one of the first traditional gaming experiences to get in PSVR.

SportsBar VR: Try It

sports-bar-vr

Developer: Perilous Orbit
Publisher: Cherry Pop Games
Price: $19.99

SportsBar VR isn’t the end-all, be-all of gaming, but it does introduce an untouched concept to virtual reality on consoles: social spaces. The sparse gameplay options in SportsBar VR certainly range in functionality. The game features air hockey which plays great, darts which takes a fair amount of time to get used to, and pool which – despite feeling the best suited for the PlayStation Move controllers – feels oddly technical.

The far more admirable component of SportsBar VR is their attempt to make a social space which is more about hanging with friends versus playing the actual games within. And as an entry point to that, the game may be worth it – especially for those with long-distance friends. That is, assuming your friends have the VR equipment and SportsBar VR.

SUPERHYPERCUBE: Buy It

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Developer: Polytron Corporation
Price: $29.99

Superhypercube is to PlayStation VR what Resogun was to PlayStation 4 – pure arcade bliss. The premise of the game is simple: there is a hole in the wall. Crane your neck around the floating “cube” in front of you to see it, then rotate your “cube” so it will fit. After each successful round, the controlled shape gets a few more cubes added to the mix making for a frenzied rush.

Featuring a surreal and colorful environment, as well as global leaderboards to check your rank, Superhypercube is a pricey-yet-rewarding arcade puzzler that will win the hearts over anyone who ever had a passing interest in Tetris.

Thumper: Buy It

thumper (2)

Developer: Drool LLC
Price: $19.99

t may be too early to call this, but I can see Thumper being the cult classic of PSVR’s launch. With little fanfare and hardly as much press attention than games like Rez and RIGS, Thumper offers a nightmarish rhythm-based arcade experience that takes you to some twisted environments.

Now the game isn’t scary – nor is it PlayStation VR exclusive. However, being in the headset is clearly the best way to experience the title; you simply get absorbed into the experience as you concentrate, trying not to miss any beat in the Audiosurf-esque gameplay loop. More importantly, with a $20 entry tag, the game is one of the best single-player experiences you can get for that price.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood: Try It

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Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Price: $19.99

I’ll admit it: I was dubious of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. As a huge fan of the original title (whose popularity caught Sony by surprise), I was fully expecting a cash grab – a game that carried similar themes to Until Dawn but was otherwise very shallow. That was not remotely true with Rush of Blood.

A fair mix of rail shooting and frights, Rush of Blood has the player in a “gassed up” state, fending off the various ghosts, clowns and everything in-between on an extended rollercoaster fright. The game is far spookier than the underlying title – although, that may be attributed to the VR immersion – leading to consistent jumps on my part.

Finally, Rush of Blood likely was my favorite game in terms of shooting mechanics. While every game from London Heist to RIGS had their own take on FPS, Rush of Blood seemed to mirror the style I though was most comfortable. It isn’t hard to recommend Rush of Blood… but you may want to test the game out to see if you can handle the jumpscares.

VEV: Viva Ex Vivo VR Edition: Try It

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Developer: Truant Pixel, LLC
Price: $4.99

Earlier this year I reviewed VEV: Viva Ex Vivo on PlayStation 4 noting that the game felt destined to be a VR experience. Lo and behold, players who bought the game have been treated with a free patch adapting the title to VR.

Luckily, the game translates as well as one would predict in VR. After getting past an introductory stage, players will be able to swim around varying microscopic environments, avoiding enemies, and collecting energy.

While not as stunning as it is on the TV, VEV is a terrific experience at a budget price for anyone interested in science. Unfortunately, it is also one of the very few games that caused PlayStation VR’s signature motion-sickness, so you may need a stronger stomach than I.

Wayward Sky: Try It

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Developer: Uber Entertainment
Price: $19.99

A competent point-and-click adventure title, Wayward Sky highlights the diversity of games that can be experienced in the new medium. After crash-landing in a mysterious place, the player is able to direct the heroine in search of her father/grandfather/paternal figure.

The game is by no means big-budget and it will certainly be gimmicky from time to time, but it is easy to overlook given the game is brimming with charm. The puzzles are all relatively easy, however it is fun to navigate the interesting environment and see a tried-and-true genre ported over to a new medium.

World War Toons: Skip It

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Developer: Studio Roqovan, Inc.
Price: FREE

A flat-out awful game. With barely anyone else playing, lobbies are empty and you will likely be stuck in the visually unappealing practice rounds. More importantly, World War Toons singlehandedly made me lose my lunch. After only 10 minutes of rough and low-quality the room was spinning. I wouldn’t play this if someone paid me.


The Applications:

Allumette: Buy It

allumette

Developer: PENROSE STUDIOS, INC.
Price: FREE

There are a few media experiences that you can take part in with PlayStation VR, but I think the one that most fully took hold of the unique possibilities of VR. The 20-25 minute picture is enchanting, inviting the player to dip their head and look at the action play out from various angles.

While I’m not entirely sold on whether video will fit the medium, Allumette was by-far my favorite theatrical experience of the group.

INVASION!: Try It

invasion-vr

Developer: Baobab Studios LLC
Price: FREE

Short and cute – much like the bunnies featured in the 3D animated cartoon – INVASION! also attempts to adapt traditional cinematography to the new medium. The show, which feels part-Bugs Bunny, part-Minions is quirky and fun, especially for younger audiences.

On the other end, the game occasionally suffers some visual hitches; things up close are pristine, while anything distant (birds, UFO’s, etc.) seemed to suffer a bit of screen tearing. Whether this issue is something that exists solely on PlayStation VR or on other, more proficient VR tech remains to be seen. However, given the non-existent price, I would give Baobab Studio’s project a whirl if you have the free time.

Kismet: Buy It

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Kismet is hands down my favorite non-game “experience” on PlayStation VR, offering a unique and supernatural view of fortunetellers. Players will get the choice to have their fortune read, get daily star readings and play a fairly simple board game.

Can you spend a lot of time in Kismet? No, probably not – I played around in it for five minutes. But those five minutes were entertaining. More importantly, it is a great experience to show off to first-time VR user. For the low entry point of $6.99, fans of new “experiences” in virtual reality should check out this little experiment.

 /  Editor-in-Chief
Lou Contaldi is the Editor-in-Chief at DualShockers, specializing in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.