Area Man Lives is one of the most original and kooky games that I’ve played on the Meta Quest 2, with its intriguing premise one that implements some clever ideas as you play the role of a radio DJ. I definitely haven’t played anything quite like it before, and whilst it did have some stumbling blocks, it certainly left a lasting impression on me.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Area Man Lives puts players in role of Taylor, a radio DJ who finds themselves in a bedazzling fix when they have to help the titular Area Man survive the night. Sounds like a normal night on the job, right? Of course, you’ll be doing a bit of typical DJing along the way (which includes taking calls from listeners and making sure you play some catchy tunes across the airwaves), but your ultimate goal is to keep Area Man safe after he calls in to the show in a bit of a perilous situation.
I’m being intentionally cryptic about how events pan out with the Area Man, because honestly, this is one of those games where it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible. The narrative is incredibly well-written and offers enough clever little turns to keep players hooked in, whilst the way it’s all tied into playing the role of a DJ is very, very cool. There’s some top-notch voice acting on offer from the likes of Joel McHale and Max Greenfield too, with the expertly delivered performances ensuring that the whole experience is a lot more immersive. It can get surprisingly deep, and whilst there is a comedic undertone to the experience, Area Man Lives explore a lot of emotional themes.
Be warned though: this is a game that puts you in a time-loop if you fail, meaning that you’ll play through some events over and over again until you find the right way to progress. Whilst some sequences are trimmed down on subsequent playthroughs, you’ll still hear and do a lot of the same things constantly until you figure out what you need to do. It’s not painfully repetitive and the fact that there are a multitude of ways to interact within the booth in order to progress does keep Area Man Lives interesting, but knowing that there are also a multitude of ways to fail and have to go through the cycle again might be a little tedious for some players. I know I found myself tiring of the repetitive cycle at times, ESPECIALLY when it was a bit too cryptic as to what I actually needed to do next.
“Want to know one of the game’s coolest features? The voice recognition, which sees the game’s characters responding to the things you say in varying ways.”
Whilst the narrative is the highlight of Area Man Lives, I was also a big fan of playing the role of a radio DJ. You’ll be carrying out your typical duties, whether that’s playing commercials, picking songs, or simply taking calls, whilst there’s also plenty to interact with within the radio booth itself that can change the course of the narrative in varying ways. It’s like a puzzler really, but in a more casual manner.
Want to know one of the game’s coolest features? The voice recognition, which sees the game’s characters responding to the things you say in varying ways. Admittedly, you’ve got to keep the things you say fairly simple if you want the game to recognise your voice properly, but it’s a real clever idea that I only saw fail on me a couple of occasions. It adds to the immersion of the game and will make the whole experience of playing a DJ and leading someone to safety all the more believable.
It all comes together to make for a wholly unique experience and one that I had a lot of fun being a part of. However, some cryptic puzzles could cause a few frustrations here and there, especially since the game doesn’t always make it clear how to progress. It wouldn’t be a big issue if you didn’t have to re-play a lot of sections of the game, but that aforementioned repetition can be a bit of an issue. It can feel unnecessarily clunky at times too, with the game limited to snap rotation and teleportation movement; whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, the smaller environment and need for precision when interacting with certain aspects of it did leave me wishing smooth locomotion was included. I had a few small issues interacting with a few objects too, though there was nothing game breaking there… just a couple of oddities.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Whilst it has its flaws, there’s definitely a lot more good than bad in Area Man Lives. It just requires a bit of patience to see everything through, but with a rewarding pay-off and plenty of cool ways to interact with the world itself, the journey is worth it. I’ve got to give a shout out to the quirky cartoon-like art style too, which I’m always a fan of in virtual reality. Who needs realistic visuals when you can fill the world with oddities and colour, right? It’s good stuff.
Area Man Lives Review
Area Man Lives is a unique virtual reality escapade that will keep players hooked in with its interactive storytelling and clever ideas. Sure, it does have a few stumbling blocks when it makes you repeat parts of the game and with the clunky movement, but the enjoyable ways you can interact with the world and the cool DJ mechanics ensure that the overall experience is a fun and memorable one.
Developer: Numinous Games
Publisher: CityLights, Cyan Ventures
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed), PC VR