There is no doubt that, despite its favorable pricing compared to the Rift and Vive, buying a Playstation VR is a big investment for most – especially when you consider that for games like DriveClub VR and Robinson, you’ll probably want a Playstation 4 Pro as well. That’s why it’s a good thing that some money can be saved by buying a few of the cheaper games out there. In this roundup, we discuss close to a dozen games that are all priced at under 20 dollars/euros.
Batman – Arkham VR
Out of all the “budget” titles available, Rocksteady’s Batman game was perhaps the most eagerly anticipated one of all – with demos of the game being described as some of the best that Playstation VR was going to be able to offer. Its budget price point has very little to do with the quality of the game – it’s more about how much quantity there is, as the game can be completed in about an hour.
This makes Batman- Arkham VR a prime example of something that’s more of an experience than it is a game. Despite being developed by Rocksteady, the game is nothing like their previous Arkham trilogy. Don’t expect to be jumping around and pummeling bad guys here – instead, expect to actually BE Batman this time. Played from a first person perspective, you get to put on and wear Batman’s suit and explore his world, even for a little bit. Stepping foot in the batcave, seeing the batmobile roll up -they are incredible experiences if you’re fond of any of the Batman iterations from the past 40 years or so.
Interactions with the game world – controlled using Move controllers – are fairly basic. Throw something, grab something, push something – that sort of stuff, and nothing we didn’t see in the Wii days. It’s the feeling in between those interactions that really steal the show though – as for the first time ever in a game, you literally feel like you’ve just stepped into Batman’s shoes. At least the Batman when he’s not on duty and pummeling bad guys left and right. It’s a must-see experience, even with the limited playtime that’s on offer. It’s still the kind of thing that will make your friends wish they too had access to a Playstation VR unit.
Super Stardust Ultra VR
The Stardust franchise has been around for ages – I remember playing the original on my Atari ST in the early nineties. The original Super Stardust quickly followed and since the Playstation 3 the series has been a staple on Sony’s platforms as well. Super Stardust Ultra VR is the next title in the franchise, and it’s a relatively minor update to 2015’s Super Stardust Ultra.
As is the case with DriveClub VR, the latest Stardust isn’t an update to an existing game or even a DLC addon, but rather a re-release. This is probably the game’s weakest point, since the VR-specific content in the game isn’t groundbreaking. It’s functional at best, and feels removed from the classic Super Stardust feeling at worst. Where you might be used to playing Stardust from a top-down perspective with a lot of fast and frantic action going on, the VR-exclusive levels here put you in a mech as you look around and stand your ground as your surroundings slowly get overrun – the mode is being called “invasion zone” for a reason. It’s not especially pretty to look at and feels like a gimmick to play with – a minor step up from the many shooting gallery titles released for Android VR devices.
Still, the original game is included as well and that’s well worth playing. Just don’t shell out full price for the VR mode if you already own Super Stardust Ultra. An upgrade option for existing owners of Ultra is said to be available, but we haven’t seen it in the PSN store yet.
Hustle Kings VR
Another game in this line-up that is a re-release of an existing game – in this Hustle King, which was released for PS3, Vita and PS4 earlier. You’re basically dealing with the same game again, but with move controls and a VR perspective as an added bonus. The original PS4 game was free to play, yet the VR game is 20 dollars/euros and as far as we can see it doesn’t contain the wealth of DLC content available for the game. That makes for a pretty steep incline in price, but how does it play?
Using move controllers, Hustle Kings is hard to get comfortable with. It obviously feels different from holding a pool cue, and it’s very hard to be precise. I quickly resorted back to just using a gamepad, but of course that breaks some of the immersion. It’s cool to be able to look around, but I doubt I’d pay 20 dollars/euros just to be able to do that unless I was already in love with the free to play PS4 original. My advice would be to start with that one, and see if the jump to VR would be well spent on you.
Until Dawn – Rush of Blood
As a traditional on-rails shooter, Until Dawn is one of probably many similar games that will grace the Playstation VR platform in the future. We’re already hoping for Time Crisis and House of the Dead comebacks. As such, it has relatively little to do with the original Until Dawn game – which was very story-driven as a “pick your own fate” kind of horror/slasher game. Rush of Blood instead goes for a much more arcade-like, on rails experience with a ton of jump scares to imbue it with a horror flavor.
Like Arkham VR, it’s a short experience, but so are many similar arcade lightgun shooters. Rush of Blood lasts about an hour and a half, and how much you go back depends on how much you enjoy lightgun shooters and hunting for trophies. That hour and a half is extremely competent though, with (Move) controls that work extremely well and are even more fun with a lightgun attachment. What’s especially good in terms of VR functionality is of course that you’re right in the middle of the action here, making the scares far more effective than those in House of the Dead. From that perspective, Until Dawn – Rush of Blood is an instant classic that has set the bar for on-rails shooters in VR. Sure, it’s quite formulaic and predictable, but it gets the basics exactly right.
Here they Lie
Appearances can be deceiving, because our first impressions of Here They Lie were that this was going to be a fast-paced horror title. Instead, it’s more of a walking simulator/adventure game with a horror twist, and the closest you can get on the PS4 right now to the extremely promising Wilson’s Heart (which is Rift-exclusive) – at least in terms of atmosphere and the scares it provides.
Taking place in a setting that looks like something out of the middle of the previous century, Here They Lie features a city filled with sinister looking creature. Its story, though largely forgettable, is a dark mystery at heart – one that’s filled with plenty of atmosphere and (perhaps too many) jump scares. VR is a perfect medium for genuinely scary horror experiences, and Here They Lie provides a good taste of this. It’s far from a perfect game with so-so visuals and a merely okay plot, but its creepy atmosphere and replayability make up for a lot. Gameplay is limited in the traditional sense, but the fact that you get to make a lot of story-branching choices along the way encourages you to play through the game again when you’re done – offering good value for money, especially now that the market isn’t yet overrun with horror titles. If you can’t wait for Resident Evil 7, then definitely pick this up.
Sports Bar VR
At under 20 dollars/euros Sports Bar VR offers great value for money, even if the individual games themselves aren’t groundbreaking or unique in any way. This is a minigame collection much like a lot of the early Wii and Kinect games, but with VR as an added layer as well as a social/online element to further enhance the feel of the social experience that a real life sports bar provides.
Originally shipping with pool, darts, skeeball and air hockey, the game has already received an additional three games for free since it was launched. A recent update adds chess, checkers and shuffleboard, as well as a few toys to play around with (which includes balls that can be tossed around the room). Everything can be controlled using move controllers and of course – just as was the case in every Wii/Kinect collection ever made – not every game works as well. Personal favorites around the office here include air hockey, shuffleboard and pool, though it’s fun to play a game of checkers or chess in VR as well. Of course there are far better games in the non-VR world for those, but they’re perfectly functional.
Skeeball feels more luck-based than skill-based, and this is especially true for darts. As a game that requires immense precision, playing it with a move controller is more of a fun experiment than it is a sports sim that you should take seriously. Think of it as the equivalent of playing darts for real but closing your eyes before you start your throw – that’s about as accurate as you’ll get. Still, despite its faults, Sports Bar VR offers excellent value for money – especially now that it has no less than seven games on offer for a budget price. For a similar but different experience, check out Carnival Games VR below.
Carnival Games VR
The first game for Playstation VR by 2K has nothing to do with any of their major franchises, but is instead a minigame collection that revolves around the classic fairground experience that many kids these days probably haven’t even experienced. Where Sports Bar VR currently offers seven games, Carnival Games almost doubles that number by providing access to no fewer than twelve different carnival games. Some are unique, others feel very alike – but there’s something here for everyone as long as you’re into casual games.
Of course, you can throw a set of balls to try and knock over a series of objects – or you can try to throw a ring around a peg. Other throwing games include shooting basketballs through hoops and alley ball. In fact, throwing, aiming and catching sum up about 90% of the game, but they’re implemented in a variety of ways. There’s the classic shark tank, a shooting gallery and a haunted house – which is disguised as an on-rails shooter. The one game that really stands out is the climbing wall, which is a casual way of experiencing something akin to Crytek’s The Climb.
As is the case with Sports Bar VR, the quality of these games varies. The head/move tracking works quite well though, making it a lot of fun to switch between games and try everything out. Some experiences are too similar to one another, but that’s easy to forgive when you consider that you’re paying less than 2 dollars/euros per game here. There isn’t a real life carnival game that can match that – although you don’t get to take home a giant stuffed animal here as a prize if you succeed. If you have any interest in the more casual site of motion/VR gaming, then both Sports Bar VR and Carnival Games VR are solid choices for a good price – what you’ll like best depends mostly on your preference, thematically speaking.
Space Rift: Episode 1
An indie approach to the classic Wing Commander experience, we enjoyed Space Rift when it was first released on PC. It was released for Playstation VR with relatively little fanfare, but the experience is just as fun on a PS4. It’s too bad Episode 2 isn’t on the horizon yet as the game abruptly ends now, but at least what’s there is a nice sci-fi alternative to bigger and more expensive titles like EVE: Valkyrie. Our review of the Steam version is still available if you’re interested in Space Rift.
One of the few games available for Playstation VR that really benefits from having a larger playing area available to you, Holoball is a lot of fun inside a small package. A mix between Pong, Shuffleboard Cafe and Tron, the objective of the game is very simple. Smack a ball at your opponent, hoping it soars past him before he has the chance to knock it back towards you. It’s an videogame objective almost as old as videogames themselves are, but it works wonderfully well in a VR setting.
Already having received rave reviews for its PC original, Holoball merges its simple and addictive gameplay with sleek, futuristic visuals. It’s like being inside the Tron universe and playing a game – and I could easily see Disney releasing a similar game in the future with a Tron license attached. Another fact about Holoball is that it’s one of the most dynamic games we’ve played on Playstation VR so far – physically speaking. Although walking around the room isn’t recommended on account of all the wires you might trip over or get entangled in, you’re constantly reaching up, stretching left and right, and picking up that game-saving ball close to the floor. Calling it a workout might be a stretch, but it’s certainly a fun and active way to play around with VR. It’s also extremely easy to pick up, so it’s the perfect game to take turns with when you have guests over.
Pinball FX2 VR
Whether or not Pinball FX2 VR should be in this list is debatable, because if you buy the available expansions you’re looking at a price point well over 20 dollars/euros. There is a season one expansion available and a Walking Dead table, and buying both will set you back another 30. The base game is very affordable at just 15 dollars/euros though, and well worth the investment as it contains three full tables. The expansions follow a similar pattern, as you pay roughly 5 dollars/euros per table – and in our view they are well worth it.
We’ll readily admit that we were skeptical about playing pinball in VR at first. After all, how exciting could it be to just look down at a 2D/3D playing field when you could do the same with a big screen TV or monitor – especially one that rotates so you can view it longways? What we didn’t take into account was the extra dimension that developer Zen Studios has added to their pinball experience with Pinball FX2 VR. Aside from offering the pinball experience that’s available in the regular Pinball FX2 tables, you’re also transported to a venue that comes alive as you play. Perhaps ironically, the Walking Dead table is a fine example of this.
As you’re standing at your pinball table in a virtual space, you’ll quickly notice other characters that grab your attention as you play. On the left side of the table, there is a young girl, trying to hide and using your pinball table for that very purpose. On the other side of the table, there is a zombie looking for flesh. It’s a very cool experience that really elevates the game on a thematic level – you feel like you’re not just playing a Walking Dead table, you’re doing so in a Walking Dead world.
The actual pinball experience is solid, but you’re accepting a compromise in terms of the crisp visuals and minute details that the regular FX2 tables offer. Nevertheless, the game looks excellent in VR and it’s very natural to physically follow the ball around the table. If you’re a pinball enthusiast this is a must-get, but it’s also well worth it for the experience if you’re nothing more than a casual fan who’s interested in the tables on offer.
Previously reviewed as a Steam title, Nebulous is a rather basic puzzle game that’s somewhat similar to games like The Incredible Machine – placing objects on a game field in order to solve puzzles. As we previously discussed in our review, the VR aspect does relatively little to enhance the experience, so our advice would be to only pick this up as a VR title when it’s on sale. The game works fine a puzzle game and is playable without VR as well, just don’t expect too much from its Playstation VR support – the experience is more or less similar to playing Crazy Machines in cinematic mode.