After giving PlayStation VR gamers their own unique take on what employment feels like in Job Simulator (spoiler: it’s incredibly zany and fun), developer Owlchemy Labs are back once again with another unique virtual reality… uh… ‘simulation’. This time around you’re leaving the workplace and getting some much needed rest, with Vacation Simulator giving you the chance to take in the luxuries of three vibrant resorts that each offer a lot of enjoyable tasks to get involved in. It makes for a very fun gameplay experience which expands on the formula found in Job Simulator with the addition of charming challenges that add a sense of progression to the overall experience.
You’re going to need two Move controllers to play Vacation Simulator, so PlayStation VR gamers who only have a DualShock controller will have to skip on this one. I can’t imagine the game being played any other way though, with a massive emphasis placed on grabbing and interacting with objects around you, whilst the in-game tasks often take a more physical approach that requires player movement too. It definitely deserves some praise for the on-point tracking though – games like Vacation Simulator can become a liability to play if the tracking doesn’t work properly, but I didn’t encounter a single issue during my time playing.
Vacation Simulator essentially offers a rich selection of mini-games and tasks for the player to partake in, with each area of the game featuring different robotic characters who want you to help them out in specific ways. Once you’ve cleared a challenge you’ll be rewarded with a memory, which can then give you access to additional areas in each resort. There’s a counter in place that tells you how many memories you’ve unlocked and how many remain, so there’s definitely this satisfying sense of progression in place as you slowly see each one unlock and your completion-percentage increase. Some games like this can feel a bit gimmicky at times and almost like ‘one play’ experiences, but Vacation Simulator offers the player some worthwhile goals to strive towards to keep them playing. It’s good fun.
Once you’ve created your avatar and had a look around your nifty apartment (more on that later), you’re given the option to visit your first resort: you can either go to the Beach, the Forest, or the Mountain. Each one offers a totally unique environment to explore that’s full of different tasks to complete, though you’ll eventually get to visit them all anyway so your initial choice won’t matter too much.
Each task you get involved in feels fitting for the location you find them in – the Beach will see you doing the likes of playing ball games and building sand castles, the Forest has you fishing and painting, whilst on the Mountain you’ll be able to ski and take part in snowball fights. That’s just a small example of the tasks you’ll get to partake in too, with each locale full of things to see and discover. Basically, you’re going to be doing a fun variety of things that constantly keep the gameplay experience feeling fresh.
Some tasks will require you to move items between resorts too. You’re equipped with a backpack that can carry around an assortment of items, be it ingredients to whip up new burger ideas on the Beach, game cartridges to take back to your apartment, or even a slingshot to smash up the targets found all over the place. It adds this extra sense of replayability to each locale, with each one offering additional tasks to partake in after you’ve uncovered certain items in a different location.
You can always head back to your apartment to store items, play games on your console (most of which are parodies of existing games), or even change up your avatar’s appearance in-game. It’s nice to have a little place to call home and it’s neat to play around with everything you’ve got there, though most of your fun will be had elsewhere. I mean, who goes on holiday to spend all their time in their hotel room, right?
Whilst Vacation Simulator is a whole lot of fun to play, most of the tasks you partake in are very simple in design. Given how far virtual reality releases have come on PlayStation VR, it might leave some players wanting a bit more – especially since quirky experiences like this are a dime a dozen these days. Still, there’s this level of quality and humour that Owlchemy Labs put into their games that really helps them stand out, so it’s still an easy title to recommend; just don’t expect to do much that you haven’t seen before already from a gameplay perspective.
Presentation-wise, Vacation Simulator really looks the part with its vibrant world and varied locales looking striking in the PlayStation VR headset. The robotic folk you meet on your vacation are a real colourful bunch too, with them each adopting the classic monitor-style look from Job Simulator but adding their own holiday-fuelled twist. It’s just a very pleasant game to look at and it feels good to be there in the midst of it all in virtual reality.
Developer: Owlchemy Labs
Publisher: Owlchemy Labs
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift