HTC Vive VR Games Roundup

Babel

After all that shooting, I fancied something a little more mellow. Initially, I thought Babel could be it. It's ultimately single-player, VR Jenga, except the towers stretch up as tall as you are, and you have a variety of tools with which to poke and prod at the wavering structure. You're trying to pick loose the golden blocks from the rest of the column without bringing the entire thing tumbling down.

In practice, it started to become quite a traumatic experience. Thankfully, the game seems to have planned for this: hitting the tower with rage I found that my sword would cleave right through it, leaving glowing marks as it fell to pieces.

It's quite fun to play, and methodically flicking blocks loose of the tower using the tip of a sword is fun, although I am curious as to what else it can bring to the table in later levels. For the hour or so I played it though, it was a lot of fun.

HTC Vive VR Games Roundup

The Lab

In a decision that'll probably put me at odds with a lot of Vive players, I didn't enjoy The Lab much. I've put it on here because it's free, and made by Valve, meaning it's the closest thing to a first-party title we have. It's essentially a series of tech demos.

You can play fetch with a robotic dog, rewarding it for a successful fetch by rubbing its tummy. You can play a version of first person Angry Birds with Portal cores, or experience Dota's secret shop or a shift as a repair technician at Aperture Science. There's a lot of stuff here, and a lot of it is fan service that you might get some mileage out of, but beyond Longbow, another archery game that takes the form of a tower defence, I didn't find much to hold my attention here.

The experience was worsened by the long loading times too. The testing PC here in the office isn't a slouch by any means (GTX 1080, Core i7-5960X at 4.2GHz, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD) but I still spent 30 seconds or so looking at loading screens. It killed my enthusiasm pretty sharpish, as you jump between the different experiences fairly quickly, although rather brilliantly you jump between them by making an orb appear in front of your face with a single button and then grabbing it and smashing it into your own face.

The Lab does a lot of things right and it fits with Valve's desire to be as twee as possible, but the bite-sized chunks left me wanting more. It's free, but not fulfilling.

HTC Vive VR Games Roundup

Budget Cuts (The Demo)

Budget Cuts may be a demo, but it's the closest I've ever felt to being a spy in my life. You're looking to get your job application approved, and to do this you've gone full spy, skulking around an office building patrolled by security robots after dark. This involves a lot of VR sneaking around (including pulling myself along the ground on my stomach while candid photos of me were snapped).

HTC Vive VR Games Roundup

Teleporting around is well handled, but the real fun comes from your weapons. You have throwing knives and a crossbow, both incredibly satisfying weapons to use, even if it turns out I'm just not capable of tossing throwing knives with any accuracy. I've taken to lobbing them underarm from a few steps away, which works but means I am quite prone to getting blasted by robots.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the full game if it can maintain the quality. Maybe something could be done about the checkpointing at the same time. Dying at the end of 15 minutes of sneaking around, I found myself dumped back at the start, and pretty much rage-quit to play something else.

I told everyone it was because I didn't want to crawl around on my front any more, but it was a horrible lie.

We're probably going to do this again. If you're a VR developer for the Vive or you want to suggest a great VR game, you can ping me on Twitter at @_Jaketucker with recommendations/requests for coverage.
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