A title that walks the line between a VR experience and a traditional videogame, Separation by Recluse Industries is a Playstation VR-exclusive game.
Its developer, Martin Wheeler, was inspired by the likes of games like Ico for the visual style of the game, but also took the loss of his father as a source of inspiration. Visualizing his feelings of loss and depression, the game is meant to symbolize a sense of grief as you journey through a landscape with structures that have fallen to ruin.
But where many ‘similar’ games put their sources of inspiration on the foreground, Separation keeps a lot of it open to interpretation, allowing for a more accessible gameplay experience for those who don’t have similar backgrounds. Having said that, the game’s control options could have benefited from a combination of the 3dRudder and Move controls since a lot of the game revolves around gently walking through its sometimes haunting environments while interacting with objects every now and then. Instead, everything’s controlled with the trusted old DualShock controller – intuitive enough but less immersive as a VR experience.
The puzzles in Separation are fairly intuitive and unlikely to stump you. Early examples involve directing beams of light across the landscape by manipulating various moving pieces, the end result of which looks great once you reach vista points later on in the game that offer you a view of the area you were in before.
By that point, the game also branches out and becomes less linear, giving you more options to explore. And although there isn’t a clear narrative in place or a compelling puzzle dynamic that keeps you invested in the actual gameplay, there’s an urge to just keep going and take it all in as you move forward (or travel back to places you’ve seen before).
Part of that is undoubtedly the audiovisual presentation, which is captivating and mysterious from the start and culminates towards something grand near the end as well. Playing it in VR only strengthens that otherworldly ‘a place to escape’ vibe, creating a journey worth undertaking. It’s not a title I’ll easily come back to though, and its slow pace will deter players as well. Those interested in a more contemplative take on digital entertainment might want to take a look though.