PlayStation VR has been out for just under two weeks now, but we still haven’t managed to thoroughly rifle our way through all of the headset’s enormous launch line-up. We thought we’d just about played all of the biggest releases but there is one name that keeps unexpectedly creeping up in conversations. It’s not Batman, RIGS or Driveclub; it’s an experience that’s captured the hearts and minds of the early adopter community, and it’s not even a full game.
I’m talking about Robot Rescue, one of the handful of mini-games that appears on Sony Japan’s excellent free launch compilation, Playroom VR. I’ve seen this little platformer brought up time and again on internet threads and among friends over the past 12 days. After finally trying it for myself, I can see why.
Robot Rescue is essentially PS VR’s answer to Lucky’s Tale, one of our favorite games on the Oculus Rift. It’s a short but oh-so-sweet third-person platformer in which you guide one of the game’s adorable robot heroes through a spritely world, finding his also adorable robot friends that have scattered in terror at the arrival of some block-shaped baddies. You use the DualShock 4 to control your brave little protagonist as he (it?) leaps over chasms, battles enemies, and collects gold coins because, well, it’s a platformer.
There isn’t a whole lot to separate the game from Playful’s Rift launch title; they share the same perspective and some very similar mechanics, but Robot Rescue does bring a few of its own tricks to the table. The most notable of these is the use of the DualShock 4’s position tracked controls. Rather than disappearing from the game world, your gamepad will appear in the environment just as it does with games like Tumble. It will even store the robots you find, but it’s best featured when you use it to aim at grappling points and then flick the controller’s touchpad up to fire out a tightrope.
Your character can then jump onto that rope and you’ll walk them along it (shown below.) At one point, it’s necessary to raise the rope higher to reach some out of the far away coins, and you can also move it quickly to dodge incoming enemy attacks.
Given Robot Rescue only lasts about 10 minutes, the idea is never fully utilized but, even for this brief running time, it showcased an intriguing level of invention. It made me think of other ways the DualShock 4 could have been used: perhaps as a shield for incoming enemy fire, or a way to light the path in darker levels.
I also really liked the use of positional audio, which would give away the position of hiding robots as they let out cries for help. At one point I spun my head around after hearing one of their measly squeaks to find one hiding around a corner I had completely missed before. Again, it’s a feature that never reaches its full potential, but could provide a new dimension to hidden collectibles in a full game.
It really is a shame that Robot Rescue is so short, but luckily anyone with a PS VR can try it out as part of Playroom VR completely for free. The precious few minutes it offered were some of the most enjoyable I’ve had yet with the headset. We don’t know if Sony Japan is currently working on any other VR projects but, if not, we’d implore them to get to work on a full version of this cutesy, tantalizing taste of what VR can do for one of gaming’s most beloved genres.
And Playful should certainly pay attention regarding whatever they work on next.