With September upon us and another month of new releases to look forward to, we’ve taken a look at the titles that hit the Oculus Quest during the month of August 2019 and determined which ones are worth checking out.
Like last month, there’ve been a strong selection of titles released that are spread across multiple genres. There’s something here for those who enjoy multiplayer, there’s a fantastic single player story-driven experience, and there’s even the chance to play pinball in VR – I told you it has been a diverse month!
Acron: Attacks of the Squirrels!
Naturally, it’s not always easy to utilise virtual reality in local multiplayer experiences, but some developers have managed to find clever ways to do it by utilising the TV screen for the non-VR players. You can’t do that on the Oculus Quest though, but there is another option: having the non-VR players use their smartphones. That’s what they’ll do in Acron: Attack of the Squirrels, and it actually works quite well…
Basically, Acron: Attack of the Squirrels is all about a battle between a tree and some squirrels (bear with me here). The VR players controls the tree as it lashes out at squirrels trying to steal its acorns, whilst the non-VR players control squirrels on their phone and try to grab the acorns without getting attacked. The VR player is well-equipped too with a mixture of ranged and melee attacks at their disposal, so the squirrels have to be particularly nifty in their approach. It can make for a surprisingly tactical affair, especially since up to eight-players can take part in the action.
The whole thing works quite well and it’s a lot of fun to play, but it can grow old fast. I played it with some friends for around an hour and by then we felt like we’d seen everything it had to offer. Of course, there are online options in place if you want to expand your horizons a little, but without the laughs of being together it lost a bit of its charm.
Still, if you want a multiplayer experience that can be enjoyed locally on the Oculus Quest, Acron: Attack of the Squirrels is definitely a good game to try. You may not get hours upon hours of entertainment out of it, but it’s a whole lot of fun whilst it lasts.
“If you’re looking for a slick fix of entertaining VR space showdowns, you might want to give End Space a try. Its mixture of tight controls, enjoyable combat, and marvellous sights always ensure that each encounter you have with enemies is an impressive affair – even if they are a little bit too easy at times.
It offers something a little different to the alternatives that are available on Playstation VR right now, with the focus on a single player campaign as opposed to multiplayer combat giving players something a little different to the likes of EVE: Valkyrie. Admittedly, these missions could be a little lacking in variety, but it doesn’t really matter when destroying enemies is so much fun. In all, End Space is just an enjoyable space shooter that’s worth checking out.”
End Space offers more of the same on Oculus Quest that it did on PlayStation VR, though the visuals have definitely seen an improvement. It already had some impressive sights anyway (what do you expect battling in space?), but the improved resolution offered by the headset does make it easier to appreciate just how good it can look. The gameplay mostly remains the same though, so if the visuals don’t make a big difference to you, it’s not worth purchasing End Space again if you own it on another virtual reality platform.
Everyone’s dreamt of being a ninja, right? Well, Ninja Legends lets you be one FOR REAL (at least in virtual reality anyway), as you fight off hordes of incoming enemies with a myriad of different weapons including a sword, bow, and ninja stars.
The weapons in the game are all satisfying to use. I think that virtual reality is brilliant for melee based combat and Ninja Legends has it in spades. It’s also a pretty gory game, so some well-timed attacks will see enemies literally slice into two. You’re also able to block and deflect incoming attacks, so playing defensively is just as important as accurately hitting foes.
Whilst the concept works well on the Oculus Quest though, there’s just not enough variety to Ninja Legends for it to keep you hooked in. It has got plenty of levels and the boss fights are neat, but with it adopting the wave-based format of simply attacking enemies that come your way, the gameplay cycle gets old fast. There’s very little movement to do on the player’s behalf too, so it’s not like you can explore your environment or use it to your advantage when fending off foes.
If Ninja Legends came out a few years back during the infancy of virtual reality it might have been a bit more impressive; with titles like Sairento available that offer a much slicker and meatier ninja-like experience, Ninja Legends feels like it’s way behind the competition. It’s not awful by any means, but there are better options out there.
Pinball FX2 VR
There’s something about playing pinball in virtual reality that I love, so I was glad to see Pinball FX2 VR come over to the Oculus Quest. I don’t have to explain the rules of pinball here though, right? Everyone understands that it’s about hitting a ball around a fancy table with flippers, all whilst racking up as high a score as possible. With three tables to play here (Secrets of the Deep, Mars and Epic Quest), players also have a decent selection to start off with.
One thing that I really like about Pinball FX2 VR is the way that it adds visual effects to your surroundings as you play. You don’t just have a pinball table in front of you; you’ll also see objects flying around you based upon the theme of the table. The fact that it’s all happening in virtual reality just makes it all the more impressive and adds to the whole atmosphere. I’ve got to give a shout out to the Oculus Quest for making everything look so sharp too – I’d previously played Pinball FX2 VR on PlayStation VR, but it looks so much better here.
Whilst it’s all neat though, there’s no denying there’s something unnatural about playing Pinball FX2 VR. Having a pinball table feel like it’s really in front of you is odd when you’re using two controllers to use the flippers rather than pressing buttons at the side of the table, and there were a few occasions where it felt odd not to see my hands placed on the side of the table as I tried to hit those scores. Of course, it’s something you get used to, but anyone who has played pinball in a pub or their local arcade may find it a little jarring initially.
When you do adjust to it, you’ll quickly find yourself getting addicted to Pinball FX2 VR. Once you’re done with the initial selection of tables, there are plenty available to buy as DLC too so you won’t run out of options fast. Pinball FX2 VR is an easy game to recommend for pinball fans or just those who want a quick and easy game to jump into when they’ve only got time for a short play session.
“Red Matter brings an intriguing narrative, enjoyable puzzling, and an impressive world together into one thoroughly enjoyable virtual reality experience, and it easily stands out as one of the most impressive titles that has hit PlayStation VR this year.
2018 has been a good year for the platform anyway with titles like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Tetris Effect and Firewall: Zero Hour showing that it has a good variety of unmissable titles. Well, now you can add Red Matter to that list too, with Vertical Robot’s stunning sci-fi adventure certainly offering an exceptional and fulfilling journey for players to head on.”
Whilst we previously covered the Red Matter on PlayStation VR, it’s essential that we bring up some of the improvements brought to the Oculus Quest version of the game. Firstly, the Oculus Touch controllers make it so much easier to navigate whilst still getting the benefits of motion controls. The lack of analogue sticks on the Move controllers has always been a problem for me when playing PlayStation VR titles, so seeing that remedied on the Oculus Quest is great.
Secondly, the visuals are simply OUTSTANDING. I thought that Red Matter looked good on PlayStation VR, but on the Oculus Quest there are improved draw distances, better shadows and more detailed textures. I was simply blown away by how great everything looked, though a lot of it is owed to just how impressive the environmental design is in the game to begin with.
Red Matter was already a fantastic game, but these improvements have elevated it unmissable status. It’s one of the best games available on the Oculus Quest so far and one that owners of the headset simply NEED to play.
Gamers who like to show off their creative side will be pleased to see that SculptrVR has now made its way to the Oculus Quest, giving them a chance to put together their own voxel-based creations and then share them with the world. With a bunch of different tools at their disposal and the great tracking of the Oculus Touch controllers, there’s potential to make some real masterpieces…
Well, for artistic players at least; I barely managed to make a stick figure that looked half decent, but that’s due to my inadequacies as an artist opposed to anything the game did wrong. Whilst I’m not a creative type though, I did have fun with SculptVR. Sure, the best thing I managed to create was a warped looking Sonic the Hedgehog, buy there’s no denying how cool it was crafting it and then admiring it in virtual reality.
The best part of all? You can make things with friends in multiplayer, which adds an impressive social aspect to all of the artistry. I’ve seen some people make some really impressive creations with friends online (some have even shaped landscapes) so there’s a lot of potential to make some magnificent things with SculptVR – that alone makes it a pretty nifty release that’s worth taking a look at.
There seems to be an almost endless selection of games set in space on VR platforms, and even more so puzzlers that require you to interact with objects in different ways. Time Stall is a combination of the two, so it really had to do something special to stand out – with its zany setup and quirky puzzling it certainly managed to catch my eye, though unfortunately some repetitive gameplay mechanics see it falling a little short in the long run.
Time Stall is all about stopping bad things happening by slowing down time, be it stopping objects falling on someone by launching a projectile at them or carefully placing objects around to act as a protective shield. You’re preparing for accidents before they can cause any damage, with each situation you face in the game having more than one way to solve it.
It’s a silly and fun experience that’s packed full of charm, but the simple setup can grow a little stale after a while. You’ll be doing a lot of the same things after all, and whilst the situations are different, the actions you’ll take to prevent them from causing harm don’t really change much at all. It’s not too long of a game either, which is both good and bad: the brevity ensures nothing grows old, but it’s over before you get the chance to see anything really flesh out.
Ultimately, your appreciation of Time Stall will come down to how much you enjoy its quirky nature. It’s a neat game that does some clever things and the world itself is packed full of charm, but the package as a whole doesn’t offer enough to make it essential playing.
Essential! (8.5 – 10)
Good! (7 – 8.4)
Decent! (5.5 – 6.9)
Poor! (2.5 – 5.4)
Do not buy! (0 – 2.4)
An Oculus Quest headset was provided to us on loan by Hill+Knowlton Strategies to create this article, but it in no way influenced our opinion.