Developer: Virtro Entertainment
Publisher: Virtro Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now (PlayStation VR) March 2018 (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed) HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
Imagine ending up in Oz, but rather than heading down the yellow brick road with friends to meet the Wizard like in the classic movie, you instead find yourself constantly running and grabbing out at an almost endless supply of gems that are surrounding you. Well, that’s the premise in Run Dorothy Run – the virtual reality ‘rhythm-runner’ from the team at Virtro Entertainment.
Run Dorothy Run plays like a mixture of an endless-runner and a rhythm game, with the game automatically sending you running across a few environments with countless gems to reach out and grab that seem to follow the flow of the music. Well, mostly anyway – I noticed on the harder difficulties they didn’t always match up, but it’s easy to let that slide.
You’ll need quick reflexes to grab out at all of the gems though and will be pulling off some interesting shapes as you swing both of your Move controller-equipped hands all over the place; you’ll need decent balance and a heck of a lot of co-ordination if you’re going to grab them all. Some gems require you to guide your hands along in a certain position for a short time too, which is actually a lot tougher than it sounds. It’s a deceptively tricky game, but all of the gem-grabbing felt quite satisfying to pull off.
Besides collecting the myriad of gems that are floating around you, you’ll also have to fight off some enemies. There’s the likes of crows, wolves, and, of course, flying monkeys (this is Oz after all) so there’s a decent variety trying to take Dorothy down. They only take a quick whack to get flung out of the way so you don’t have to worry about them too much, though they can cause a bit of a distraction whilst grabbing gems. They’re actually a bit of a pain for throwing you off your rhythm – not just because you’ve got to hit them, but because they’ll block your vision for incoming gems too. I’m not sure if this was intentional design by the developers or not, but it could actually be a little frustrating when you’re on a hot-streak of gem collecting only to have a crow block your view.
You’ll get a ranking based upon how well you perform in each level, so there’s definitely an incentive to replay them to get those higher scores. However, there are no online leaderboards to compete with others. It’s a strange omission for what is such a score-focused game, and actually discouraged me from spending extra time trying to better my score in some cases.
There are three varying difficulty modes in the game, and in fairness you’ll certainly see the difference between them all. Whilst the Easy difficulty is a good place to start, you won’t really start enjoying the game as much until you tackle the Medium or Hard difficulties. On Hard, you actually get a genuine workout – my constant flailing of arms whilst trying to reach out at the gems brought on one heck of a sweat, and I definitely felt the ache after a long time playing the game. It’s a good challenge though, and one that really shows off the better side of Run Dorothy Run’s somewhat simple gameplay mechanics.
Now I didn’t realise I was into electro-swing music, but after spending a few hours with Run Dorothy Run I couldn’t get some of the tunes out of my head. The whole soundtrack fits the theme of the game perfectly, and it’s unlike anything I’ve heard in any other rhythm game. I’ve got a peculiar taste in music so I though this might be one of the biggest sticking points for me, but the team at Virtro Entertainment have managed to put together an enjoyable set of tunes to go along with the running. Sure, a lot of them sound very similar to one another, but you won’t certainly won’t grow bored of them.
The visuals are a little simple in design, but work well – there are a few different environments to run across, though they’re never packed with detail or variety. They’re certainly full of colour though, and in fairness the urgency of your actions in-game ensures you never get bored of the sights around you. When you stop and take it all in though, it’s a little easy to feel a bit underwhelmed.
One of Run Dorothy Run’s biggest setbacks is its price point, which at $29.99 seems unreasonably high for what it offers – especially since some more fleshed out (and arguably better) games are available for a much lower price. The thing is, if it was a little cheaper it’d be a lot easier to recommend, especially since the gameplay is fun and addictive. For that price though, there are too many better options available on the PlayStation Store right now.