In some ways, it’s surprising that it took Sony so long to bring one of its best-known series to virtual reality. The first PSVR in its early days didn’t have the power of these IPs to attract people to the platform. Sony may have realized this, as PS VR2 launches alongside a new side-adventure in the Horizon universe. No, we’re not talking about a 30+ hour open-world monster (do you really want to play something like that in VR?), and it’s not one of those infamous “VR experiences” which were all too common in the early years of PSVR. .
But what is it then, the curious reader will probably wonder. Well, like many other big-budget narrative VR games (perhaps we can even call them AAA developments), Horizon Call of the Mountain is similar in length and scope to PS2 generation blockbusters. In other words, it’s linear, takes less than 10 hours, and keeps its systems relatively simple so you can focus on introducing new tools and scenarios to keep the experience fresh. It’s a feast that makes good use of new VR features, and the great Horizon classics are also on the menu: bow and arrow combat, light exploration and material gathering, crafting and, as the title indicates, death defying mountaineering. .
There is also a story, of course. It centers on the former Shadow Carja Ryas who, in exchange for a reprieve, is sent on a mission to find her missing brother after finding a mysterious signal. It’s a good start, but the story never really evolves into something exciting. Partly because Ryas never really develops into a compelling character, and the belated introduction of a rather generic villain, whose master plan doesn’t set up true terror as the game intends, doesn’t make either service to history. Focusing on the Carja doesn’t help either. Yes, we’ve spent quite a bit of time with them in the main games, but Horizon’s tribes and internal and external conflict has never been the most compelling part of Horizon’s story, and it shows. here.
The search for Ryas mainly takes us through an incredibly picturesque valley and its surrounding mountains, which invite to practice said climbing. Even so, I was surprised how much rock climbing plays into the game. You definitely spend more time hanging from a ledge than you do with your feet on the ground. Fortunately, Firesprite and Guerrilla spice up the usual VR climbing with a handful of tools that you manually assemble and feel free to use. For example, the sturdy and satisfying pickaxe is great for scaling ice walls, and the grappling hook lets you cross wide gaps. However, not all tools are equally fun. For example, the grappling hook has a launch delay, which ruins its potential, but the frequent introduction of new tools pretty much keeps the scaling going throughout the game’s eight hours. But almost, because in the end it gets a bit boring, even if the system works very well.
However, I never got tired of the fantastic views. With each conquered climb, a magnificent new view of the valley is revealed. Horizon Call of the Mountain is certainly one of the best-looking VR games, although the excellent intro, where your only way to interact is to look around, has a visual quality unmatched in “real game”. As already mentioned, most of the game takes place in a single valley from which you can see the different points of interest that make up the levels. The massive metal demon looks particularly imposing from its perch atop a snowy peak, and placing the locations in plain sight has the effect of making the world feel more cohesive.
If the environment is one of the strengths, the machines, of course, are another. From the jaw-dropping first encounter with a Longneck majestically crossing your path without noticing that it nearly crushed your canoe, to the mighty roar of a hull-shaking Thunderer, the machines are even more impressive in VR than they are. they are not on the flat screen. And just like in the main games, not all of them are hostile, so sit back and watch a herd of Gallopers. It’s a sight to behold.
Although not everything can be peace, love and harmony. Sometimes Ryas has to fight to the death against the most aggressive machines. Combat isn’t a big part of the game, but it’s still one of the key elements. When engaging in combat, you cannot move freely, only left or right in a circle. On the one hand, it seems a little restrictive, but the system has the advantage of allowing to aim well with the bow or to launch and dodge enemy attacks. This allows for fun encounters where you frequently switch arrow types to reverse roles. Against particularly tough enemies, like the Thunderer, my strategy was to freeze it using the slingshot’s ice bombs, then switch to precision arrows to deal maximum damage to weak parts of the crippled machine. Shooting the bow and sling activates adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, making the simple act of shooting an arrow from your back and firing it a real joy. The dodge mechanic works as expected (I used the efficient new gesture-based system, which requires pressing a button in combination with different gestures, but there’s a traditional control scheme that works well too), but it lacks finesse. As long as you keep moving it’s relatively easy to dodge incoming attacks, and I wish there were more enemies like the Junker with attacks you need to dodge because constantly moving left or right gets a bit repetitive.
There are also sequences (on foot and climbing) where weaving between machines is the best option. In a well-executed sequence at the start of the game, you hide behind suspended carts in an abandoned mine waiting for the right moment to climb to the next hiding place. More sequences of this type would have been appreciated, especially on foot, since this aspect of the game is the weakest. Moments on foot when Ryas isn’t in combat are usually to transport you to the next climbing or combat scenario. To be fair, there is a bit of light exploration where you search for collectibles, pieces of armor, and items to craft special arrows, but this part of the game could have been a little more refined.
Overall, Horizon Call of the Mountain lacks that extra layer of polish usually associated with first-party Sony titles. Ryas sometimes gets stuck in vegetation, and textures near him sometimes load too slowly. Worse still, editing between levels is clumsily handled, with a sudden fade to black, and the way the camera resets when entering a combat section is equally shocking. This makes the different parts somewhat disjointed, which unfortunately breaks up the excellent immersion created by the lush environments and compelling soundtrack.
In this way, the whole ends up being less than the sum of its parts. I have a lot of good things to say about the visuals, sound, climbing, and combat, but they’re betrayed by a generic story, undercooked on-foot sections, and an overall that isn’t quite cohesive. . Horizon Call of the Mountain nicely showcases Sony’s shiny new hardware and takes you on an entertaining and varied tour of lesser-known parts of the Horizon universe, but it’s not a system seller.
Brent Dubin, known as the Gaming Giant among Globe Live Media staff, is the chief Gaming Reporter for Globe Live Media. Having attended all the major events of Gaming around the World, he is sure to give you exactly the update related to gaming world you are looking for.
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