Release roundup: Layers of Fear VR, Poker Club & Beat Blaster

In this roundup we’re looking at the newly released PSVR version of Layers of Fear VR, a significant new update for Poker Club and the Oculus Quest release of Beat Blaster.

Layers Of Fear VR is out now for PSVR

Layers of Fear is one of those games that’s been with us for an eternity, it seems. We first reviewed it over five years ago (!), and revisited it for its Inheritance DLC and then again for the VR adaptation that launched at the end of 2019. Now, that last version is finally available for PSVR users as well, after having been released for the Quest earlier.

On PlayStation VR, your only option for navigating around the game are the Move controllers, which work well enough despite not being suited to free locomotion. While the game is at its most effective if you move and crawl/duck through the house slowly, it also allows for running, which is a decent option for additional playthroughs. The gameplay itself is unchanged from the previous version of Layers of Fear, so expect a few puzzles, searching for items and a few scares inside a haunted mansion – you’ll see different endings based on what you uncover as well.

layers of fear

The PSVR version of the game does suffer from some of the same issues that affected the Quest version though, and it’s something we also saw in the VR port of Blair Witch. Bloober Team is great at crafting a tense, unnerving visual atmosphere, but a good amount of visual detail gets lost in the translation to (PS)VR. Observer – System Redux is a great example of what the developer can do in terms of lighting and surface detail, but although the 2D version of Layers of Fear showcases similar effects the VR edition has less detailed textures and strongly reduced lighting effects. The visual design itself holds up very well though, and Layers of Fear remains a creepy and unnerving experience.

Part of that is the excellent audio design, which feels like a page taken out of the horror movie 101 textbook. With plenty of haunting sounds and music, Layers of Fear grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you relax. The PSVR adaptation isn’t worth it if you’ve already played the VR edition on PC or for the Quest, but if you had been wanting to experience the game in VR on a PlayStation 4 then it’s nice to finally have that chance. Despite the significant hit on the visuals, it’s a creepy horror experience worth playing.

Poker Club receives a major update  

When you think “next gen consoles” you probably don’t think of poker as a way of showcasing them. Ripstone Games thought different and they released Poker Club in November of last year as what is definitely the most visually impressive take on videogame poker ever produced. Player feedback hinted at some launch issues though, so the team behind kept working on incremental updates and have also recently launched an update dubbed “The River” to the game.

One new content addition is an additional venue to play in – an elegant British manor, for those looking for a classy ambiance for their games. It’s also fitting of the generally understated auditory environments in Poker Club, which in the original game were sometimes a lot less vibrant than you’d expect or want to. Here, the illusion of playing inside a manor somewhere in the countryside is a good fit for peace and quiet – much more so than a boxing gym.

poker club

The new update also revamps the visual style for the game, which plays out from a single player perspective but also utilizes TV-style cameras to enhance the presentation of each game. With the new update, the latter element is enhanced, which makes Poker Club more exciting to look at for those not actively playing, resembling a hybrid between a videogame and a TV-style broadcast.

Additional improvements are more gameplay-centered, with more control over how hosting a multiplayer sessions works, more community features and enhancements to the single player campaign – which is a good way of getting comfortable with the rules and mechanics if you’re not already an avid online poker player.

Beat Blaster now available on Oculus Quest

Between Beat Saber, Synth Riders and Pistol Whip – and probably a few others – there is plenty to enjoy on the Oculus Quest for those who enjoy rhythm-based games. Beat Blaster, which we reviewed on PSVR back in 2019, has now joined the ranks.

beat blaster

Developed and published by Ivanovich Games, it’s available through the Oculus AppLab and plays like an untethered version of the PSVR game – which is nice since it’s a movement-based title where head movement matters and it’s pleasant to not have any cables tugging on your head. Movement’s not an issue in itself though, because Beat Blaster wasn’t designed as a 360 degree game and just has you facing forward.

There’s a more in-depth look at the gameplay in our original review, but Beat Saber’s mix of shooting, moving and evading enemies translates very well to the Quest, which also has no issues technically running the game and its Tron-like visuals. If you’re looking for another rhythm-based title to add to your library, then Beat Blaster’s a solid choice with its 30 song tracklist and randomly generated levels.

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