In its original form, Covert was a good game imprisoned inside a headset it didn’t seem built for. Its ideas for local VR co-op adventuring were genuinely exciting, but fell victim to Oculus Go’s limited tracking and input far too often. Now available on PSVR and Oculus Rift, Covert finally graduates from double no to a budding spy game worth a look.
Covert PSVR/Rift Review
In Covert, one player wears a VR headset whilst another joins them via a free companion app. As new members of a thieves guild, the VR player sneaks through levels avoiding detection with the help of the mobile player, who can open doors, temporarily disable traps, point out safe passages and blind enemies. Think Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, only expanded into a narrative driven campaign.
There’s plenty of gold to be mined from this setup, and Covert quickly sets about extracting it. Frantically navigating laser grids requires hilariously panicked communication, fuelled by concerns for stepping out of line too early or your companion not keeping up with you. One of the game’s best concepts allows the mobile player to possess movable crates, morphing them into a sort of surrogate second player.
With the improved controls comes a much more refined difficulty curve, though the game does still have some occasional road bumps. These can often be where the game comes together, though, with its multiple strands mixing together to create challenging gauntlets that feel suitably suave when they’re going well and brilliantly anarchic when they’re not. Plus there’s a generous checkpoint system that means any annoying failures aren’t punished too severely.
Ultimately Covert doesn’t hit that stride as many times as you might hope in its three to four hour campaign (Edit: I should note this was reached having previously played the game on Go; players coming in fresh will likely take north of four or five hours), often falling back on its simpler, more showcasey ideas. For the mobile player in particular it’s not always the most engaging experience, but its best moments make up for a lot of the downtime.
But Covert isn’t fully free of its mobile shackles. Though the game supports both Oculus Touch and PlayStation Move controllers, many of it’s interactions retain automated animations. You don’t physically press any virtual buttons, for example, but instead press the corresponding one on your respective controller and then watch your virtual hand carry out the action.
It’s a little jarring, as are the game’s broad collision barriers that often push the camera backwards when you try to lean in to inspect items in close detail. Movement on the PlayStation Move controllers is also pretty stiff, especially when you’re under pressure and quick movements make the difference between life or death (though it’s far preferable to using the Go’s touchpad and you can switch to DualShock 4).
Covert PSVR/Oculus Rift Review Final Impressions
Mostly freed from the limitations of early mobile VR, the console and PC versions of Covert finally feel like the game it should have been two years ago. This an often amusing, occasionally engrossing bit of local VR collaboration that will have friends reaching the tops of their voices, if rarely doubling down on deep spy work. Still, if you’re looking for something to play with a friend that doesn’t own a headset or if you want more experiences like Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, you should accept this mission.
Final Score: 3/5 Stars | Pretty Good
Covert is available from today on PSVR (in North America) and Oculus Rift. A European PSVR release is coming later this year. For more information about how we arrived at this score, check out our review guidelines.