We’re at the halfway point in 2019.
True, much of the year thus far has been dominated by hardware with the launch of Rift S, Quest, Index and the reveal of Cosmos. But there’s also been a smattering of really excellent releases that prove VR game and experience design is making just as significant strides as the headsets that run them.
We’ll save crowning the best of the best until the very end of the year but, for now, let’s round up some of our favorite things we’ve seen in VR in the past six months.
Vacation Simulator – Read Our Review
Owlchemy Labs could be considered the kings and queens of VR interaction and Vacation Simulator only serves to cement that position. Buidling on the work it did with Job Simulator and Virtual Rick-Ality, this is another set of wonderfully engaging minigames, finely tuned to get rid of the awkwardness that most other VR games simply end up embracing.
It speaks volumes about just how fun Vacation Simulator is that you want to keep playing even after the credits roll. It’s packed full of delightful discovers to make and includes Owlchemy’s signature humor too. We can’t wait for it to land on Quest towards the end of this year.
Blood & Truth – Read Our Review
When VR headsets first launched, people wanted to know when we’d get a full, story-driven AAA-level first-person shooter designed exclusively for headsets. Sony London’s Blood & Truth is arguably the closest we’ve yet come to that milestone. This PSVR exclusive delivers the blockbuster production values you’d expect of a Sony-made game, paired with explosive shootouts and setpieces.
More than that, though, Blood & Truth’s wonderfully silly story of a British crime family getting its own back is packed with genuinely compelling face-to-face encounters and memorable moments of downtime.
A Fisherman’s Tale – Read Our Review
A Fisherman’s Tale includes one of the most instantly-captivating applications of VR we’ve seen this year. In this short-but-sweet puzzler you play with scale in ways never before seen. A model of the lighthouse you find yourself in sits in the middle of the room. Take the roof off and you’ll find a mini-you mimicking your every move. Look out the window and you’ll see an enlarged version of yourself and the room too.
This ingenious mechanic gives way to some thrilling puzzles. Not only that, but A Fisherman’s Tale spins a memorable yarn about guilt and the burden of succession. It might be a little lean on puzzles, but this is one VR experience you won’t forget.
Star Wars: Vader Immortal Episode 1 – Read Our Review
Early on in Vader Immortal the Dark Lord himself strides up to you, buries you in his shadow and pronounces “This is the one I’ve been searching for.” And there isn’t really a more fitting way to describe this third stab at bringing Star Wars into VR. Vader Immortal’s first episode is a hugely captivating 40-minute ride digging into highly-polished character interaction, exploration and combat in VR.
As if that weren’t enough, the 40-wave Lightsaber Dojo offers some of the very best combat you’ll find in VR today, reaching levels that will push your skills and heart rate like few other apps have. This might not be a multi-hour epic, but it’s arguably more powerful.
Ghost Giant – Read Our Review
Who’d have thought that Ghost Giant’s unsuspecting tale of imaginary friendship — a concept already well-explored in VR — would hold enough subversion and charm to make it one of the year’s best titles? Developer Zoink really doubles down on the tried and true aspects of VR, like the power of diorama-sized sets, the intensity of connection and the weight of interaction, to pull off something special.
Ghost Giant has some wonderful little puzzles, but its the themes of depression and the weight it places on others that really makes it memorable. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be interested in story-driven experiences, Ghost Giant is one to check out.
Beat Saber/Superhot Quest
We’ll cheat a little on this one. Beat Saber and Superhot are, of course, great games from yesteryear. But it’s not that they’ve simply been competently ported to Quest, it’s that Quest’s wireless setup actually elevates the experience you can have with each game. These are titles that are truly best on Quest.
For Superhot, that means action of Matrix-level action sequences without the worry of tugging at a wire on the back of your head. For Beat Saber, it’s the freedom to slice and dice with more immersion than you’ve ever seen before.
Trover Saves The Universe – Read Our Review
Justin Roiland’s Squanch Games does VR that makes you laugh. Nowhere is that truer than within Trover Saves The Universe a hilarious and utterly bizarre adventure that’s in constant search of ways to delight and amuse players. While the core gameplay can feel somewhat generic the humor is often enough to pull you through.