The Vita Report

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Wizorb is basically Arkanoid, except everything looks almost exactly like Link to the Past. The promotional material for the game tries to make it look kind of semi-RPG like a Zelda game, but it’s really not. There are shops where you can buy power-ups that you lose when you die, and you, being a “wizorb”, do have spells, but only a few, and you never get any new ones. No, this is just a game about hitting balls to break blocks. One that has bizarrely large chunks of levels between checkpoints. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as it looked from the trailers, but it was ok.

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Now Playing: Phantasmagoria (1995)

Phantasmagoria is a horror adventure by Roberta Williams, creator of the King’s Quest series. It is also one of the earliest and biggest games of the FMV craze of the 90s. It had an astounding (at the time) 7 whole discs (that’s in CDs, if you crazy kids even know what those are anymore) and was said to contain some pretty controversial and highly graphic material. I’ve always wanted to try it out to finally know once and for all, the truth about Phantasmagoria. Well…it kinda sucks.

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Now Playing: The Assembly (2016)

Yet another Playstation VR title. Grabbed this because it was on sale and looked interesting, but eh…it wasn’t that great.

Nice enough looking environments and an interesting concept of interacting with some secret science group with questionable morals (called…The Assembly), but as an experience it just felt incomplete. Puzzles are rare and too easy. Everything else is just walking around, looking through a lot of cabinets and drawers, most of which are empty.

The plot has a lot of potential, but it never really realizes it. You never really see the threat posed by The Assembly. There’s a lot of talking about it and apparently a lot of mischief going on off screen, but you’re never really directly exposed to it, and so it never really feels particularly sinister.

The few moral choices you have to make feel much the same. They usually refer to things that are going to happen off screen. For example, oh no, you have to choose who should get this kidney transplant, a 70 year old veteran that’s famous for his PTSD coping techniques or a random 7 year old girl. Except you don’t get to meet or even see either of them. It feels more like a question from a job application, which I suppose it technically is in this context, but it just doesn’t have any impact. Ok. I clicked old man. Now I forget about him and move on to the next room, never to hear about that situation again. Who cares?

This just had the feeling all around of being only the first episode in a larger story. It was all build up and no real payoff. It felt like it should have ended with “to be continued”, but they just said “fuck it, let’s just slap an ending on here and call it a full game”.

Oddly enough, the same can be said about the use of VR in the game. Apparently this was originally designed as a normal game, but had the VR capability added on afterwards, and it shows. Functionally, VR has no real use here and while the environments aren’t bad looking, they don’t contain any areas or scenes that are remotely memorable enough to go “wow, I’m glad I played THAT in VR!”. It just doesn’t add anything to the experience. In fact it only makes things more difficult, with the weird Here They Lie-ish controls you have to use to avoid motion sickness.

I wouldn’t really call it an altogether unpleasant experience in the end, but it was definitely ultimately unfulfilling and there are much better things to spend $20 and 4-5 hours on.

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Now Playing: The Brookhaven Experiment (2016)

The Brookhaven Experiment is basically a 360 degree horror shooting gallery. You stand in a fixed place and spin around, fighting off hordes of increasingly bizarre and difficult creatures. You have a knife or a flashlight in one hand and a gun or a thrown weapon in the other. You can find new weapons and items hidden throughout the levels. That’s…really all there is to it.

It’s very simple, but effective. The creatures and environments look great. Like all of these VR games, 2D videos just can’t do the visuals justice. The gameplay is mostly very functional, with the exception of some aiming/firing glitches that occur when you spin around into just the wrong place where the motion controller briefly enters a blind spot. It’s another short game, with a campaign that only lasts maybe 4-5 hours, though there is also a survival mode to mess around with. It doesn’t have the tight production of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (which I played before this, but forgot to record. Great little game!), but it is way heavier on action and challenge. There’s really not much else to say about it. *shrug*

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Now Playing: VR Worlds (2016)

VR Worlds is basically a collection of tech demos, showcasing what Playstation VR is capable of. These are all very short, very limited games, but the majority of them were actually surprisingly fun and well made.

First there is Scavenger’s Odyssey, which is a space shooter that had a kind of Metroid Prime feel to it. It’s only about 2 hours long, but it’s ridiculously fun and nice looking while it lasts. The end sets things up for some kind of sequel. I’d buy it.

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