It may not be a household name in VR like Half-Life Alyx or Beat Saber, but Vertical Robot’s Red Matter is widely considered to be one of ther top VR games out there. Now, almost four years after the launch of the original game, we finally have a sequel – we dove into Red Matter 2 on a Quest 2 headset.
We’re one of the outlets that really enjoyed Red Matter when it came to PlayStation VR, as it felt like an expertly crafted game that did very well in a number of key areas – immersion and interactivity, production values and an interesting story and setting being some of those important elements. With the same studio helming the development of the sequel, we had very high hopes for Red Matter 2 – and it didn’t disappoint.
Story-wise, it helps to play the first game before embarking on a new journey as the game picks up right after the events of Red Matter, with a distress call from an old friend who needs your help. An adventure then unfolds that uses many familiar mechanics, including the in-game tools that are closely mapped to your Quest controllers – which feels very immersive in giving you the sense that your in-game hands are actually your own. But while a lot of functionalities are brought over from the first game, you’ll also learn to use new features, like the ability to hack into computer systems.
New control mechanics like this also expand the sequel’s ability to deliver gameplay through puzzles, making sure that it doesn’t feel like a simple rehash of what came before. And while there is combat in Red Matter 2, the game doesn’t rely on any of its elements too much, making sure you keep engaged for its entire runtime, which is slightly longer than the first Red Matter was.
In terms of technical performance, what the team at Vertical Robot has been able to do on the Quest 2 is nothing short of stunning. We always feel like there is a major gap between what Oculus/Meta’s first party (backed) studios have been putting out and a lot of other releases for the platform, but Red Matter 2 pushes the envelope of what’s possible for independent developers on the hardware. There’s a great deal of interactivity too, so the environments feel both well designed and alive – even evoking memories of Alyx with how interactive things get at certain times.
The excellent use of audio that we heard in the first game also returns in prime form for the sequel, with environmental audio to help suck you into this sci-fi adventure and subtle sound effects and great voice acting to bring everything to life. It certainly also helps that this is an experienced VR developer that knows its way around the various control options that are available. Red Matter 2 can be played by those without VR legs in a seated mode that supports teleportation, but can also go “fully immersive” with smooth locomotion in a standing mode that allows you turn around freely.
There have been some great VR games over the years but Red Matter 2 is, simply put, a must-have. It improves on the original game in many ways, even when it doesn’t do so by that much. This is what an expertly crafted VR game looks like.