Virtual reality is at its best when players can experience things far beyond their everyday life. Sometimes this takes the form of rock climbing, exploring spooky castles or even swimming with dolphins. Other times, players are whisked off Earth entirely to experience things far more otherworldly. This is the case with Star Child, which presents players with a totally alien landscape to explore. With a location like this, the full potential of virtual reality becomes palpable, as there’s no other way to be immersed in a fantasy planet’s landscape so thoroughly, much to the dismay of movies, TV shows and non-VR video games.
At its core, Star Child is a 2D platformer with puzzle elements. So why bring this standard genre into VR instead of opting for first person play as so many titles have done with headsets? Because developer Playful brings their own spin to the concept. Players can inspect the fantastical landscape further by looking into/over it. Basically, imagine a diorama. You can view this game’s world just like you would with a tangible diorama in front of you. Of course, unlike a piece of artwork in the real world, the digital realm can turn artwork into something much more dynamic.
Here’s a platformer which allows you to look ahead at what is to come, as well as look at any of its other platforms or backdrops in more detail. Fortunately, the world is colorful and exudes a strange, beautiful presence befitting to its sci-fi concept. It also doesn’t feel far out of place with the genre. Gameplay itself falls straight into 2D platformer territory, where the protagonist runs either left or right and jumps as needed to overcome obstacles. Controls feel precise and familiar by using the PS4 controller rather than Move wands, which makes Star Child seem like a great starting point for folks new to playing games in virtual reality. For folks accustomed to VR, however, it might come across as too safe a decision.
From the gameplay sampled thus far, it doesn’t feel as though virtual reality is necessary — though it enhances the experience. The best moments were seeing a huge, frightening alien skulking through the shadows before rearing its ugly head. Moments like these are exciting and hopefully Star Child features many scenes that’ll make players sit back in awe. The least engaging moments were when there seemed to be no need to look around in VR at all, but these were brief.
Star Child can be played entirely without VR, completed with the PSVR headset or by swapping between these methods if one becomes too tiring. The choice of which way to play will vary from player to player. So far, the game has some great things going for it — cool alien designs, dope music and pick up and play gameplay. Star Child is coming soon to PS4.