Does this Spider-Man-style VR swinging game take off? Find out in our Yupitergrad review.
Sometimes something can be a clear labor of love but, also, very much still a labor. Take Yupitergrad; it’s an innovative and deeply considered VR platformer with an absolutely brilliant central mechanic but, my god, is it hard work sometimes.
Yupitergrad’s elevator pitch is clean and simple: become Spider-Man in VR. Just, for the sake of not being sued, swap out New York City with a derelict Russian space station orbiting Jupiter and trade in your web shooters for a pair of, uh, arm-mounted projectile plungers that stick to surfaces and reel you in. The station is in dire need of repairs and you’re the only cosmonaut for the job, which means navigating spinning fans, searing furnaces and questionably-placed meat grinders as you master the art of swinging in VR.
Developer Gamedust — responsible for early VR treats like Neverout and Overflight — has put a lot of work into the traversal. Plungers stick to blue surfaces and pulling down hard will catapult you in their direction. Get enough momentum going and you can fly down corridors, effortlessly alternating between arms for a breezy thrill.
Yupitergrad is at its best when it lets all of these concepts breathe. Gaining speed to zip through levels, tackling corners at break-neck pace or simply propelling yourself over fire pits and gas clouds is a genuine rush, and the game largely obeys the laws of physics. Your actions often result in the intended movements and there aren’t any unfortunate and sudden bugs that could have a well-placed shot sending you tumbling to your demise. It also helps that it looks great, with cold, brutalist architecture contrasted by a vibrant cel-shaded color scheme.
But you can’t sustain a 2-ish hour campaign on empty corridors alone, as Yupitergrad knows well. Each area you’ll traverse is filled with unique obstacles, be it moving platforms that taxi you across gaps or even underwater assault courses navigated with compressed air to move you.
Maintaining momentum whilst providing an agile challenge is something the game can struggle with. Some of its levels are a real joy to tackle, like keeping up your pace as you scan the ceiling for grapple points on opening and closing doors. But, for all its refinement, Yupitergrad’s stringy movement is often unwieldy, as trying to zip through a series of corridors using two plungers tied to bits of string would be. But there’s a thin margin for error that doesn’t forgive as much as it should.
Trying to squeeze in between small gaps before you’re crushed by rolling spikes, or picking the right time to launch yourself past spinning fans is a finicky business that will have you replaying levels over and over. Even trying to edge closer to a challenge can result in wobbles that land you back at the most recent checkpoint. Load times are mercifully quick but I found myself increasingly infuriated with some of the game’s more precision-based trials. It never verges on completely unforgivable but is also consistently annoying enough to muddy the experience.
With repetition also comes a fog of dizziness that stays with you long after you take the headset off. Sitting here after a 30-minute play session I can still feel the lurch of swinging back and forth as I dangle on a line and it’s not exactly a pleasant sensation, even if it is remarkable the game can give it to you. Yupitergrad is a game to play in short bursts – a series of sprints rather than something to marathon. That makes the brief run time something of a relief, though there are 20 new time trial levels added along with the release of the Quest version should you want more.
Yupitergrad Review Final Impressions
At its heart, Yupitergrad’s brand of VR vaulting offers a clean and thrilling sensation, but its obstacle courses can frustrate as much as they do entertain. It’s not a game to master so much as it is to survive as you subject yourself to the mercy of its gauntlet and the finicky arsenal that helps you navigate it. Take it short strides, keep your patience and there’s fun to be had with Yupitergrad. It just gets strung up by its own plungers from time-to-time.
For more on how we arrived at this score, see our review guidelines. What did you make of our Yupitergrad review? Let us know in the comments below!