When Marvel’s Spider-Man launched on the PlayStation 4 back in 2018, one of the things gamers loved about it the most was just how satisfying it made swinging feel in-game. It’s something that I really appreciated myself and, as a fan of virtual reality, something that I’d have loved to have seen replicated on PlayStation VR. We’ve had some Spider-Man themed experiences release on the platform in the meantime, but they never quite nailed the satisfaction of leaping and swinging around the environment with the added immersion of virtual reality. Fortunately, Yupitergrad is here to provide that much sought-after virtual reality swinging fix; you’ll just be doing it on a space station instead of in New York city and… uh… you’ll be using a pair of plungers on ropes instead of spiderweb.
The concept of Yupitergrad alone sounds silly enough, so it will be no surprise to find out that the narrative doesn’t take itself too seriously. Set aboard a Russian space station that is orbiting Jupiter, players take on the role of an engineer that has to make repairs following a failed experiment. Easy, right? Well, no… it turns out that the space station is full to the brim with deadly hazards and the only way to get around is by swinging your way through using those aforementioned plunger-based swinging devices. There’s a typical Russian AI that guides you along during the journey that will make all sorts of snarky yet comical observations about the escapade, so you can certainly expect a quirky experience.
Yupitergrad’s gameplay mechanics are fairly straight-forward: you’ll use a pair of Move controllers to attach and swing yourself around the game’s linear but open environment, all whilst trying to avoid all sorts of deadly hazards and swing with pin-point accuracy as you look to leap into the most tightest of spaces. Whilst your plungers are certainly effective at helping you achieve all of this, they are limited by only being able to stick to blue surfaces – it means you’ve got to keep an eye out for surfaces that you can actually attach to when swinging around and can’t just launch yourself about without a care in the world.
Sounds like it could be pretty tough, right? Well, it is, with the perils that the environment brings and the steep learning curve of the experience certainly throwing you into the deep end from the off. It’ll take a little bit of practice before you find yourself swinging around with the grace and finesse of Spider-Man, with the gauntlet of hazards including flames, spinning blades, and moving platforms causing their fair share of deaths on the journey.
You know what else might cause some deaths? The controls. Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part Yupitergrad controls really well and it has some good in-game tracking with the Move controllers. The problem is that without control sticks, it’s often difficulty to make the quick turns necessary to get through some of the game’s trickier sections. There were a few occasions where I died just because I couldn’t shift my body quick enough, and honestly, it was a bit of a pain.
There are also times where the plungers don’t necessarily act as you’d expect them to, with the shift of momentum feeling a little unpredictable when trying to get into tight spots. In fairness, these moments were few and far between so it’s hard to complain too much, but it could still be a little bit frustrating when you weren’t able to do exactly what you wanted.
It might sound like I’m hating on Yupitergrad here, but I actually had a really fun time with the game – ESPECIALLY when I got used to the controls a bit more. The level design itself a slick and provides a satisfying sense of varied challenge, the story was easy to invest myself in thanks to the wise-cracking AI, whilst the cel-shaded visuals looked fantastic throughout and fit in perfectly with the game’s overall vibe. Somehow, I didn’t feel any motion sickness when playing either, even when I was pelting myself at speed across some of the game’s more bigger hallways. Sure, that might not be the case for everyone (virtual reality newbies might want to beware before playing), but I never felt any form of discomfort when playing Yupitergrad.
It never outstays its welcome either, with the game easily beaten in around two to three hours. It’s long enough to offer plenty of virtual reality thrills, but short enough that it doesn’t run out of ideas or feel like a chore to play. Those who want some extras will be glad to see that there are twenty time-trial levels included too, with each offering a neat obstacle course to get through that provides a stern test of your skills.
Despite the short length, I wouldn’t really recommend completing Yupitergrad in one session though… my arms were aching after thirty-minutes with all of the swinging. It certainly gives players a half-decent workout.
Yupitergrad offers a satisfying sci-fi virtual reality swinging romp that will certainly push players’ skills to their limit. Sometimes, the challenge will come with the slick and hazardous level design, though other times it might be because the controls don’t offer the full precision you need. Thankfully, it’s more of the former, but you can still expect some frustrating moments along the way.
Despite this, there’s certainly a good time to be had with the game, whether that’s when blasting through the campaign or challenging yourself with the additional time-trials. It’s far from being perfect as far as its swinging-escapades are concerned, but it’ll still offer plenty of laughs as you plunge- I mean, ‘SWING’ your way to safety across its vibrant adventure.
Publisher: Gamedust, Perp Games
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index
Click here to visit the official website.