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17 Oculus Games/Experiences Reviewed

MisterBeebo
Level 5
Now that I have my Rift I wanted to contribute back to this community that helped distract me while I waited for mine to arrive. I've had my CV1 for about a week and thought I'd write small reviews of everything I've tried in hopes that it helps a few people plan for what they'd like to do first. I'd definitely recommend downloading everything you want early so when you get your Oculus you can jump right in.

I've included free games/experiences here too because I've seen them get ignored despite some of them being the best experiences so far. I've broken it into Experiences, Games, and Apps and provide a brief thought on each, as well as pros and cons for the VR implementation.

Hope this helps!

Experiences

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This is easily the best way to introduce people to VR. I have yet to see it not induce a childlike laughter in players yet. The scenes are all well crafted and showcase some of the best sensations VR can create.

VR +
The scenes that get the most intense reactions are the steampunkish skyscraper scene and the walking T-Rex scene. Giving players a sense of height and fear make these the moments you want to have your camera ready for. The forest animals around the fire, the alien, and the rubber duck are also highlights but don't elicit physical reactions quite as much.

VR -
Because these experiences are so good, they also highlight the limitations of VR. People will undoubtedly reach out to touch objects and when their (invisible) hands swipe through invisible objects there's always a bit of a disconnect created, but not disappointment.

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You're a rabbit with a front row seat to an alien invasion by way of two bumbling creatures who aren't very good at it.

VR +
The animation is excellent and the environment idyllic. This is a standing experience and looking down to see your rabbit body is kinda fun. The other rabbit is the real star though as it bounces up to you, hides behind you, and eventually saves the day.

VR -
The rabbit body you take on looks more like a snowman. Maybe it is, actually. I swear I saw paws though πŸ™‚ Other than that, it's great experience that feels like it fits somewhere in between Henry and Lost in terms of scale.

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Henry is a hedgehog who just wants to hug a friend and not impale them on his spines. A touching story with lots of small details to discover. The only VR experience that tells you to sit on the floor!

VR +
Feels the closest to a Pixar short film in terms of character and story development. Lots of small details to discover. My girlfriend was full out laying on the floor at points just to see under Henry's table (there was a ladybug under it).

VR - 
None.

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If this short film hasn't been spoiled for you yet, then don't worry, I won't spoil it here, either. This was my favourite of the Oculus Story Studio films.

VR +
Captures some magic in a short timeframe and provides a sense of scale unmatched in anything else I've watched/played.

VR -
Too short! I want more!

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A man spearing for fish encounters a gigantic creature. The visuals are heavily stylized and I enjoyed the story. Even though it gets a little ambiguous near the end, it had all the magic of a folk tale.

VR + 
Like a lot of these short films, the progression of the story is based on where you are looking. Events may not trigger until you are looking at certain objects which allows the user to retain a small amount of control over the proceedings. The Colossus, while not as impressive as some other examples of scale, gave me an instant desire to play Shadow of the Colossus in VR.

VR -
Art style may turn off some people. 

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As a podcaster myself, I was very interested to see what the Foo Show was all about. I'm not sure I'll be able to properly convey it though. Imagine watching a podcast the same way you'd watch the Tonight Show. The host and guests are all animated in a charming, low-poly way, and you can choose from a few spots around the set to watch from. Now, let's pretend the guest was JJ Abrams. On TV, he would tell you about walking around the Millenium Falcon. On the FOO Show, you could actually go there and walk around with JJ and pick things up, look at them, listen to him talk about them. The first episode features the devs of Firewatch and after a brief intro, you and the group get to look around the interior of one of the watchtowers from the game. You can pick up all of the objects in the room and examine them, all while seeing the guests and host do the same. You can even pull things from their hands as they talk about them. It's a very cool way to interact with something that would otherwise just be audio.

VR +
The fact that VR already has its first talk show is astounding. Not only that, but the possibilities are endless. I can only hope he gets Jonathan Blow on to talk about The Witness.

VR -
The character models often end up twisting and contorting in bone-breaking fashion which, depending on who you are, is either annoying or hilarious.

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A tour inside the most mindboggling landscape of them all - our own body. It's a narrated, 10 minute look inside all the little lives that exist inside us.

VR +
It made me wish I was just starting elementary school now because learning experientially like this would have helped a lot.

VR -
Crude graphical representations. There was one particular protein that looks like a walking penis. That very well could be what it looks like, but maybe some better texture work would have been nice.

Games

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This one is underappreciated. It doesn't have the immersion of Eve: Valkyrie, but it offers a new spin on the mascot-platformer experience in an age when we get very few of them. It lacks the memorable charm of Mario and Sonic, but the mechanics are sound and it offers one of the few longplay experiences on the Rift.

VR +
I never get tired of looking off into the distance of some of the more complex levels and seeing the world still animated, living, long before I reach it. The levels have great verticality and never shy away from encouraging the player to peek around a tree to find a hidden collectible. Also one of the few games to offer a great couch experience that you can stay in for hours at a time.

VR -
Surprisingly, when I played this one while standing (not sure why, but I did), it can very easily induce motion sickness. Having your eyes focused on Lucky and seeing the world shift around you gives you a sudden jolt of disorientation. That being said, there's no reason to play the game while standing and if you really want to get up and look around, just don't move the character while doing it.  

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For many, E:V is the definitive launch experience. I can't say I disagree. The entire production shines. From the interior models of your ship and the pilot's body, to the celestial gas giants and capital ships of space, the sense of scale, speed, and immersion is some of the best for the device.

VR +
As a gamer, I've developed tunnel vision from years of staring at a monitor. So it's refreshing to continually realize I have an entire world to stare out into now. When the controls of E:V sink in and you pull off a great manoeuvre to beat an opponent, there's nothing like it. It's one of the few times I've shouted while playing a game simply from sheer excitement. Using your eyes to lock onto ships is particularly satisfying too. 

VR -
DO A BARREL ROLL...if you want to be sick! Your experience may vary, but the infamous barrel roll does not make my head feel too great. On the other hand, I'm sure doing a real barrel roll would feel pretty much the same. So, realism? 

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It's not often we get a decent RPG at the launch of a new device, so Chronos is such a welcome addition. More Zelda than Dark Souls, it manages to carve out a niche all its own. Set in what feels like a dark fantasy world that has emerged among the ruins of our own civilization, the aesthetic contrasts between fantasy and modern. It's a cool aspect that makes the title feel more unique than it otherwise would have. Combat is Dark Souls-lite, with different strikes, blocking, dodging, and magic all present, but it isn't quite as deep as DS and that suits the game just fine. As an action RPG, options for upgrading your character are minor, but it does include an aging mechanic that affects your physical/magical traits. Every time you die, you age a year and your body eventually degrades while your mind sharpens.

VR +
Another title I can easily play for a couple hours, Chronos uses a third-person POV that usually sets the player view in a small alcove looking into the room or, for exteriors, often floating over the edge of a cliff (don't look down!). A perfect launch title for extended play sessions that'll last about a dozen hours at least. I also liked the added touch of having the character look at you when you run him close to the screen. It pulls you into the experience just a little more.

VR -
While not as immersive as some titles, I still get a tickle in my stomach any time it puts me on the edge of a cliff face, but I seem to be particularly sensitive to heights in VR.

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Of all the titles I've played, I've spent the least time with Adr1ft, but not because it isn't a great experience (see below). You play as an astronaut with the smallest lungs imaginable and must navigate your busted up space station continually taking bong hits from free-floating O2 canisters. The sense of weightlessness and despair is palpable. This is not a "fun" game in the traditional sense. It's stressful and, somehow, simultaneously claustrophic and agoraphobic. It's also an experience that could only be properly represented in VR. The sense of scale and perspective as you view the earth from such a distance that the entirety of our world fits into your eyespace is unmatched and, for me, a little unsettling.

VR +
Are you looking for an experience that teases out your fear response? This is it. It does it better than anything else I've played so far.

VR -
If I can make one suggestion, I'd say to play everything you have before Adr1ft in order to acclimatize yourself to VR. It should easily be given its own category for intensity as I found it much more difficult to handle than Eve: Valkyrie. I'm sure others may disagree, but that was my experience.

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I don't have children of my own, but it's kinda cool to see so many titles not centered around virtual killing and mutilation. I sort of hope it stays that way as I think it forces devs to think of new ideas like Farlands. Farlands uses the now common teleporting system for movement in VR. Your task is to scan, catalogue, and nurture alien life. The creatures are all well animated and the visuals as a whole are quite crisp and unique. The game also changes every time you enter it and as you discover more life forms you unlock new planets to explore. The addition of a loose narrative is a nice touch to contextualize it all too.

VR +
Beautiful alien landscapes populated by bizarre creatures that are made even more impressive in VR. It's a fairly passive experience that you can sink a decent amount of time in. 

VR - 
Occasionally, the controls and how to progress aren't explained well and you're left looking like a fool making all sorts of unnecessary head movements when all you needed to do was press the X button. The longevity of a title like this will vary. I will probably pop in once in a while, but there's not much of a gameplay hook to pull you back in. I would have also liked to be given the option to walk (and not teleport) around the environments.



27 REPLIES 27

MisterBeebo
Level 5
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A Youtube darling, this game is one of the only couch co-op VR games you and a few friends can play at the same time. One person straps on the Rift and is tasked with manipulating a series of modules on a ticking time bomb. Your friends, using whatever the bomb defuser is able to communicate about what he/she sees, must search through a (free online) bomb defusal manual to let you know what to do. Challenges range from which wire to cut to helping the player in VR navigate a dot through a maze in which the walls don't appear in the virtual space. It's fun and works surprisingly well.

VR +
While VR isn't necessary for this title, the sense of isolation the Rift creates is a nice addition to make you feel you are actually seperated from your team.

VR -
Pretty bare bones implementation of VR. The defusal room and the bomb are all nicely modeled, but it would have been cool to see some puzzle types that could only work in VR added to the set.

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I love the narrative driven, neo-noir world created in Technolust. You play as a hacker (you know you are a hacker because you keep a Guy Fawkes mask beside your PC, obviously) on the run from an oppressive police force. For some reason I felt like I was in the world of Blade Runner or The Matrix. Great atmosphere and ability to jump in and out of several different types of mini games adds a lot of fun. It's very strange playing a game within a game, but it's working for me so far. 

VR +
The grimy, oppressive feeling of the world really comes through in VR. Seeing a police drone hovering outside your apartment window telling you you're under arrest is exhilarating, to say the least.  

VR -
Technolust employs two control schemes to reduce nausea. The first option allows your left stick to work as usual (move forward, back, strafe left, right) but you turn in degrees. The other causes the left stick to also move in degrees making it feel like a dungeon crawler from the 90s. I know these options are probably best to remain comfortable, but movement/turning in degrees really breaks the immersion and I would have liked the option to determine if full motion could work for me.

Apps

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A nicely designed interface for browsing 360 degree video from Facebook, Vimeo, Twitch, user videos, etc. 

VR + 
I think there will be some really cool implementations for this in the future (previewing seats before ticket purchases, etc.), but...

VR -
...I don't like watching 360 video as the resolution is so low I don't see the benefit. It's just not a great showcase for the device and feels like what most people assume VR looks like. I'd almost prefer VR devices distance themselves from these videos as it does nothing to sell people on it.

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A nicely designed interface for browsing 360 degree photos from around the world. 

VR +
While I don't like 360 video, photos work a little better on me. There's less artifacts and the resolution is often quite sharp. 

VR -
It's still only a half-measure and photos are of varying quality. For every gorgeous pic of San Francisco there's one of some random bedroom in Eastern Europe. 

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Much like Oculus video, this app provides what appear to be exclusive 360 video experiences.

VR +
As a hockey-loving Canadian, I liked being able to see a preview of the Heritage Classic from the front row and I could see people eventually paying to see concerts in a virtual space.

VR -
Like with Oculus Video, the resolution on these videos is too poor to really sell me on it. I'm sure due to the streaming nature of these services, it doesn't make sense to use high quality video, but I'd like to have the option to download high quality versions instead. I don't mind waiting for better quality.

Tadin
Level 7
Excellent mini reviews, well worth a read ! 

Hedgy
Level 4
Thanks for going to all the effort of putting that together, appreciated.

SkateZilla
Level 5
You should give DCS World 1.5.3 a Shot,
it's Free w/ 2 Free Aircraft (Su25T and TF-51D)

AnotherCrazyCan
Level 5
Wow, very nice reviews! Love the detail put into it and honest pro's and cons!
Facebook bought Instagram. How exactly did they ruin them?

MisterBeebo
Level 5
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'll try and post updates once in a while as I play more. 

MX5Roadster
Level 2
Elite Dangerous is one of the best VR experiences you can have, try it you will love it. 

2EyeGuy
Level 5


it's kinda cool to see so many titles not centered around virtual killing and mutilation. I sort of hope it stays that way as I think it forces devs to think of new ideas like Farlands.


I killed and mutilated hundreds of aliens in Farlands, and then presented their mutilated corpses to the other aliens as a present. Only the Whisples objected. I didn't even check if they were sentient before I killed and mutilated them. The actual killing and mutilation happened off-screen, but I could still see their severed heads in my inventory.
But if they didn't want me catching fish, they shouldn't have called me a sea student.

pjenness
Level 8

Good reviews..I notice DreadHalls is missing.

Time to put on the man pants and get in there!!

-P

Drift VFX Visual, Virtual , Vertical Want 970GTX on Macbook for good FPS? https://forums.oculus.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=17349