XING: The Land Beyond is one of those PlayStation VR titles that feels like it’s been a LONG time coming. I remember being excited to get my hands on the game before I even actually owned a PlayStation VR headset, and, since it’s been available on PC for well over a year now, the wait was slowly becoming an anxious one.
Well, we might’ve been waiting for some time, but White Lotus Interactive’s beautiful first-person puzzler has finally hit PlayStation VR. It seems the wait was worth it too – XING: The Land Beyond easily stands tall as one of the best (and most beautiful) puzzlers available on Sony’s headset and is a must-own for any puzzling fan.
XING: The Land Beyond’s tale focuses on the afterlife, with the player taking on the role of a spirit who has departed the mortal realm and now ventures across the memories of others who have also died. With multiple worlds to visit that are full of puzzles to solve, there are plenty of different stories and secrets to uncover as you begin to learn more about the existence of an afterlife and how each person’s passing has touched people in different ways.
It’s a neat concept and one that’s often delivered in a meaningful manner, with plenty of messages to be read as you progress through the game. Whilst I’ll admit that I was a little guilty of focusing mostly on the puzzling and not the narrative that runs alongside it, there were plenty of moments where I found myself touched by a particular message that I’d find that would reflect on someone’s existence. I think it’s one of those games where the narrative experience will be viewed in a different way depending on the player, but it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making it feel meaningful.
Control-wise, players can either use the DualShock or two Move controllers – it’s a case of preference though with both working well in-game. I suppose the Move controllers are a bit more intuitive since you carry two wands in-game when using them, whilst actually getting around is easy enough too: you use the Move button on the left controller to move forward, whilst the Triangle and Circle buttons on the right controller change direction. On the other hand, the DualShock offers more traditional first-person movement controls, so it really is down to what the player prefers.
The meat and bones of XING: The Land Beyond comes with the puzzling and thankfully it’s the area in which the game shines the most. There’s a really good variety of puzzles on offer – you’ll be expected to do things such as interact with the environment, activate switches, move and throw objects, and even switch between day and night as you solve each tricky enigma. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about what the puzzles consist of so I don’t spoil too much for the player (discovering them yourself is definitely more satisfying), but they’re all clearly carefully designed to offer a stern test without ever feeling too cryptic. They’re just incredibly satisfying to solve and offer the right amount of difficulty and variety to keep the player entertained.
It’ll take a good seven-hours or so to get through the main game, but those who want a bit more from the experience will be able to uncover optional puzzles, areas, and collectibles if they head off the beaten track. Each world has more than just puzzles to find, and you can expect to spend a lot more hours with the game if you want to discover all of its little secrets.
One thing that’ll be obvious immediately to anyone who plays XING: The Land Beyond is just how pretty the game is. It’s a very impressive game to look at and easily stands out as one of the best looking titles available on PlayStation VR right now. There are a good variety of environments to travel across and each one feels so enchanting to explore – it’s just hard not to have a smile on your face as you uncover every little nook and cranny. Add to that a delightful soundtrack that fits in perfectly with each different location you visit and you’ll quickly find it’s hard not to feel blown away by XING: The Land Beyond’s mesmerising world.
Developer: White Lotus Interactive
Publisher: White Lotus Interactive
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, PC