Island Time VR is the kind of experience that only really works in virtual reality. Out now for Vive, Rift and Playstation VR, we tested the game on Sony’s headset.
In addition to the Playstation VR headset, you’ll also need a pair of move controllers to act as your hands while inside the game, and the controls are pretty simple and intuitive – grab something, use something, swing something around. The premise is straightforward as well, as you find yourself stranded on a tiny island trying to stay alive by pretty much eating non-stop and only pausing to find and/or prepare more food. Despite being quite the hungrisaurus, you’ll inevitably starve. There’s no way off the island (that I’ve been able to find), and so you’re stuck trying to prolong the inevitable for as long as you can instead.
This means using sticks to knock coconuts from trees, splitting them open on a rock, creating a spear to use for fishing, building a fire to help you cook the fish and using the tools and supplies that sometimes wash ashore for you. Island Time VR thus becomes an endless stream of mini-challenges that blend arcade and puzzle elements, and it’s fun every time to figure out something new.
When you starve, you’ll encounter many of the same challenges all over again though, and they’re less fun with each playthrough since you lose that “ah ha, got it!” feeling. There’s no narrative and there are no chapters to help you pick up where you left off – which wouldn’t make much sense since you’re not working towards a rescue anyway. There is a talking crab named Carl on the island with you though, and he provides some comic relief as you try and stay alive.
Figuring out all the different ways in which you can grab hold of another lifeline is fun though, even if the sensation doesn’t last. I do get the sense that navigating the island is probably more fun when playing with a roomscale-enabled setup on a Rift or Vive, since you’d be able to physically walk around the island that way. It’s a hardware feature that’s missing on Playstation VR, and games like this really showcase the value it brings when you’re in a game where the action takes place in a small area. In a way, this is an escape room title – only without the possibility of escape.
The way the developers have managed to craft an experience that’s built up from a collection of minigames that organically flow together makes for a fun experience, but when you reach your limit (in terms of being able to solve a puzzle or start from the beginning again) it becomes harder and harder to go back to it. I would have definitely enjoyed a chapter-based approach, or a mini-game mode that lets me tackle individual challenges right away.