Pop-up Pilgrims for Playstation VR by Dakko Dakko is a charming little puzzler with plenty of content.
We mostly remember developer Dakko Dakko for their work on Sony’s PSP and Vita platforms, with the excellent Scram Kitty DX being one of my Vita favorites. Pop-up Pilgrim is Dakko Dakko’s first entry into the VR realm, and it’s sort of an update to Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims, first released way back on the PSP and then in an HD update for the Vita.
Pop-up Pilgrims immediately evokes memories of the nineties, with a bright 2D art style that resembles classic SNES titles like Paper Mario or Yoshi’s Island. It also gives plenty of nods to that same era with its gameplay, which owes its fair share to the classic Lemmings formula. Just like in DMA Design’s classic, you’re trying to get your Pilgrims to the exit using a variety of commands available to you, although you score higher by also making sure you grab the collectibles along the way.
Controls are handled by your gamepad, with your head controlling the camera direction and on-screen pointer. The in-game tutorial isn’t as well-developed as I would have liked, but a little trial and error quickly sees you mastering the first batch of levels thrown at you. When you need more information, then Dakko Dakko has detailed instructions up on their website as well: you can read it here.
Your first order of business is getting your Pilgrims to the end of a level, but when replaying a level you’re going to want to try and grab collectibles as well. Even without replaying levels, you’re already looking at over five hours of gameplay which is great for a VR title in this price range. Having said that, the amount of challenge that comes from the puzzles themselves isn’t up to the level that serious puzzle enthusiasts might expect, making for a more casual experience rather than a brain-racking endeavor.
In many levels, the biggest challenge is in getting to know the level better and thus making the right decisions, which usually become obvious when you see what happens to your little Pilgrims when you don’t act in time. This might result in some multi-tasking as well, as your little friends might be walking off into the face of danger in several directions at once. This never gets confusing visually though, as the gameplay takes place on a 2D plane projected on a curved surface for you to explore by looking around in VR.
Part of Pop-up Pilgrims’ charm definitely lies in its art style, which is vibrant and colorful and works extremely well in VR as it doesn’t need an extremely high resolution for its graphics. The result is a 2D puzzler projected onto a VR environment with platforms that really pop out against the background. While the game would be perfectly playable without VR and in 2D, it’s definitely worth seeing like this – reminding me of CastleStorm VR in that sense. And like that game, Pop-up Pilgrims isn’t an essential purchase if you’re played a previous iteration already, but it’s a perfectly functional and fun title that works well in VR. Until we get Lemmings VR, this’ll do just fine.