Developer: TianShe Media Publisher: Oasis Games Platform: PlayStation 4 (PS VR) Genre: Puzzle/Horror Rating: T Price: $7.99
With the release of the Playstation VR many people are excited to get their “scare” on with the release of game titles in the Horror genre. Unfortunately, you will have to pass on Weeping Doll if you truly want an enjoyable scary experience.
Spiritual Content: The notion of an object being possessed by an evil spirit can be uncomfortable.
Violence: There is implied murder in the main story line of the game. There is also emotional abuse of a child though nothing seen.
Language/Crude Humor: No language/crude humor
Sexual Themes: No sexual content
Positive Themes:Weeping Doll does speak to the reality of emotional abuse to children and the effect it can have on them.
Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, PS Camera, PS4 Controller
I was very excited for the opportunity to play Weeping Doll as my first experience of a full (ish) game on the PlayStation VR. As a sucker for horror games—especially of the Japanese nature—I had relatively high expectations.
In the game you play as a handmaid working for a Japanese family that has disappeared. Your main goal is to explore the home you are charged with keeping, going from room to room, solving puzzles, and looking for clues to their disappearance. Each room in the home reveals information about what has happened with the little girls who lived there. Players will have to search all corners of home to uncover the hidden secrets while collecting various keys to unlock other areas.
What was intended to be a terrifying and ominous experience fell flat as a tedious and grueling one. There is little to no investment for the player to explore anything. You are simply thrust into the story without any type of backstory. There is no explanation for where any of the homeowners are, nor is there any real reason to care about the status of the children. If the developer had possibly given even a short cutscene to catch the player up to the reason they were alone in this home, it may have been enough to keep me motivated.
The problem with the fright factor is that there is none. There is no danger to your exploring, no impending doom lurking behind corners and inside cabinets. With the exception of an occasional ghostly appearance of a young girl boding you in her direction, there really isn’t anything scary about the game at all. In fact, once you get past the first “jump scare,” you don’t even feel concerned for your own safety. What most successful horror games do is keep the player concerned that around every corner, there is the possibility of terror. You worry that if you keep your eyes open for too long, you are bound to see something startling or terrifying, yet it never delivers. Sure the game is replete with creepy dolls and ambient noises, but that is the extent of the fear, and having multiple dolls that look identical doesn’t cut it for today’s tolerance of fearful imagery.
The first thing I noticed about the game was that the control scheme is frustrating. You have two options in moving around the map: free roam moving and place to place via a silhouette. I was completely unaware that I could change the control scheme until I had already played through it to completion. A tutorial would have been nice. Considering there isn’t a tutorial, it was difficult to figure out what needed to be done in each of the rooms. There were even some items I collected that literally had no known use in the progress of the game. By the end of my play time I had 2 objects that I had found that didn’t do anything, yet were still held in my inventory.
The graphics are sufficient, but I expect more from the Unreal 4 engine. Faces are ill-defined and if they were clearer, they could add to the realism of the experience. The environments feel very static, much like the backdrop to the original Resident Evil game. It is clear what objects were able to be manipulated and which ones are just a part of the environment.
The story itself is incredibly short and it ended abruptly. In fact, I wasn’t sure that the game was over until I relented and turned it off. The only way I know it was done was that I walked through the entire house a second time and nothing was new.
The story of Weeping Doll may be a Japanese superstition that they tell each other around a campfire to cause the “willies” but the scariest part of the game itself is the confusion in its purpose. The game falls flat on many levels and is not one I would recommend for a new VR experience.
Ace Banana. The name threw me totally off my guard as I scanned the list of PlayStation VR launch titles. I had to follow up and see what this game was all about, and at $14.99, its price point was far more appealing than some of the launch titles with a bit more clout. Would I be able to get a solid virtual-reality experience out of it? I was sure going to try.
You’re using plunger arrows to protect your baby bananas from waves of primates. Not really much to get into here.
No graphic violence. It’s just a family-friendly archery game.
Nothing to be concerned about
At least one playable banana is shirtless, ripped muscles showing through. It’s more comical goofiness than anything sexually related.
Arcade family fun with the theme of protecting those who can’t protect themselves. You can also grow and care for baby bananas to get new playable characters
Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, 2 PlayStation Move controllers, PS Camera
Were you ever fascinated by archers? I don’t mean some guy with camouflage pants hanging out trying to bag his trophy buck for the year, but archers of legend like Artemis, Legolas, or Katniss Everdeen? Perhaps you just enjoy target practice, or maybe you’ve never even shot a bow but would like to try. Whatever your flavor, Ace Banana aims to make you a hero with a bow and have a goofy time doing it.
You are the village guardian. As the only mature banana in the peaceful town, you’ll have to take up your bow and protect the little green future of your people from a marauding band of primate thieves. They’ll come fast and hard, there many kinds, and they’re led by some pretty mean monkeys.
Regardless of past experience, anyone can have a good time with Ace Banana. At its simplest, archery is about holding and drawing a bow, then releasing the string to fire. The PlayStation Move controllers make wonderful analogs for this. Each round, monkeys will spawn and head toward your precious baby bananas. You’ll have to frantically draw and fire to take them out. Every fifth wave, you’ll have to take down a deviously difficult boss. That’s it, really, and anyone can enjoy playing it. The game’s actually much deeper, though.
Your basic arrows are plungers. As you play, different power-ups and ammunition types will drop from foes. You’ll get to fire a variety of ammunition from porcupines to badminton shuttlecocks and more at the coming horde, utilizing rolling pandas, split arrows, and other power-ups to soup up your arsenal. The variety of pickups does a wonderful job keeping things interesting, but beware – they throw some detrimental stuff in there too, so you’ll have to keep your wits about you.
Speaking of variety, there’s a pretty diverse cast of enemies set to come at you. Monkeys of all shapes and sizes, with various gear and abilities will assail you, and all they want are your children as a delicious snack. As you defend your home from one of three perches in the village, monkeys and baby monkeys with hardhats, jetpacks, clown costumes, paint balloons, and so on will close in from every side. Oh yeah, and don’t forget—your shoulder will probably be pretty tired after several rounds.
Between rounds, you can go back to your house. There, you can nurture and cultivate baby bananas you’re awarded to unlock more heroes. You’ll have to give them water, sunshine, and a healthy dose of plant food. Filling out your roster will let you assume the role of a new hero with a distinct bow. Whether you’re a martial artist with a curl bar as a bow, a samurai with a tamed snake, or something else entirely off the wall, there’s never a dull moment.
The game’s look and feel are great. I was impressed with how much style and character every character, both banana and monkey, exuded. The Saturday-morning art style was an excellent choice to cater to such a goofy variety of content. Everything is bright and vibrant and it all moves without a hiccup to boot. The simple little song that plays as you turn your foes to pincushions is pretty catchy as well (which is good, because you’ll be hearing it a lot).
For all the things Ace Banana does right, there are some concerns worth noting. First, this is an archer game so yes, your shoulder really will get pretty tired if you have extended play sessions. Second, the boss battles are infuriatingly difficult. It took me probably 8-10 tries to take down the first mighty foe, and each “retry” requires you to start back at Wave 1. There are no continues in the game. All of those pale in comparison to the tracking accuracy degradation over time. If you don’t take the time to re-center your headset between rounds (by holding the Start button), you may quickly find your aim jumping around erratically. Perhaps that’s more a limitation of the hardware, but no other launch titles I’ve played seem to struggle with this to the same degree Ace Banana does.
If you’re up for a whimsical archery game, look no further. The world is fun and colorful and there’s a lot of variety to experience. The game occasionally loses some accuracy tracking of the controllers, which can be frustrating, but when it’s working the game is a blast. For $15, if you’re looking to widen your VR library with some variety, it’s a decent grab.
If guns are more your thing or $15 feels too steep, you may consider Oasis Games‘ other shooter, Pixel Gear.
When I first picked up my PlayStation VR on launch day, I wasn’t sure what the upcoming lineup was. All of the major companies tried to do shooting galleries and sports games last generation, so I figured some of that would make its way over to the PlayStation VR. Not even a week after the platform launched, we’re able to jump into Pixel Gear, a first-person shooting gallery with a Minecraft-esque aesthetic. After seeing screenshots, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Now I’m happy to report this little gem could be one of PlayStation VR’s better launch-window titles.
You’re fighting off hordes of cutesy skeletons, zombies, wizards, and more. There are also the spirits of ghosts and angels. Beyond that, there’s no real spiritual element.
No graphic violence. You’re using your PlayStation Move controller as a gun to shoot things, but there’s no gore, viscera, or blood. It’s just a good ol’ family-friendly shooting gallery game.
None to speak of
Not even remotely relevant here
This is good, old arcade fun. It’s a family-friendly good time with no negative content to detract from it.
Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, 1 PlayStation Move controller, PS Camera
Publisher Oasis Games has been on fire with the release of the PlayStation VR. Upon the hardware’s launch, they had two titles in the chamber (Ace Banana and DYING: Reborn) and within a week had Pixel Gear and Weeping Doll. Pixel Gear‘s charming aesthetic immediately drew me in, but the prospect of a solid shooting gallery game to test out my new hardware drew me in. I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in the virtual world so far.
Pixel Gear is, at its core, an arcade shooting gallery. After choosing a stage, the player is dropped into a location, pistol in hand. From that point on, it’s up to you to fend off waves of baddies that include everything from skeletons and bats to beefy zombies with rocket launchers, knights with tower shields, wizards, and more. As a reward, after a handful of waves, you’ll get to fight a massive, towering boss.
The mechanism itself is pretty simple. You’ll use a single Motion controller as your gun, then point and shoot. As you play, you’ll have to be mindful of a wide swath of land in front of you. That means if you only concentrate on what’s ahead, enemies can quickly come in from the left or right and put you down. Many are capable of firing projectiles at you (though, if you’re quick on the draw, you can shoot them out of the air). Its a good pace that keeps things engaging and on-the-move without creating the feeling of being overwhelmed. You can utilize the environment for destruction as well, popping shots into exploding barrels to take out foes, for example. The gunplay in the game feels great; headshots have an undeniable satisfaction and nailing long-shots feels fantastic. The action’s pacing also feels wonderful and, I believe, even more exhilarating at harder difficulties.
Some ghosts carry helpful items (coins, ammunition, etc). Taking them out can net you some goodies, making you ever more lethal. Between waves you can purchase ammunition, new guns, and various power-ups to aid your quest. There are a total of four you can get throughout the game: a pistol with a laser sight, an automatic rifle, a grenade launcher, and a sniper rifle. It’s nice to see them consider some options for you, even if they’re limited. As you play, you can also build up and use a special ability that will slow down time and grant your assault rifle unlimited ammunition. It’s a great effect and can get you out of some seriously sticky situations.
My one real complaint with the game is its brevity. The game only has three stages! I get it—Pixel Gear is a budget game ($10.99) but by including only three stages at launch, it feels quite brief. I’ve really enjoyed my time on those three stages but you’ll have consumed everything all too quickly.
The lack of narrative is a minor quibble but one I would’ve enjoyed seeing some effort put into. The game’s boxart shows a couple of stylish characters with headsets on, firearms at the ready. It would have been a nice touch to have some kitschy tale with dialog along the way, though I understand time and budget limit what teams can do. Perhaps Geronimo Games can rectify that in a more fleshed-out sequel one day.
With VR being a relatively new in-home experience, everyone’s going to want to know about the look and feel. The game features a vibrant voxel style that keeps it kid-friendly and engaging. Beware: if you don’t like Minecraft‘s visual style, you’ll probably want to avoid Pixel Gear. That said, once you’re in the world with the helmet on, it’s even more enchanting. It’s really cool to see creatures moving around in what genuinely feels like 3-D space, with giant bosses lurching out for near-misses and hurling fireballs at you. It’s really cool and, as I’ve mentioned, still manages to stay completely kid-friendly (for 12 or younger, let them watch on TV. VR is not recommended for youngsters!). The gunshots and creature sounds fit the theme perfectly and the music is pretty catchy too.
If you own a PlayStation VR (and Move controller) or plan to pick one up in the near future, Pixel Gear is absolutely a title you should snag. The gameplay is engaging and the art design is downright enchanting. Monster design is fun, offering a decent variety, and the boss monsters are larger than life. The game is pretty short with only three stages, but at $10.99, it’s reasonably priced, highly replayable, and downright fun.
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