Besides being VR titles, what The Tale of Onogoro, Car Mechanic Simulator VR and Timberman VR all have in common is that they were recently ported over to new headsets. Time for a closer look at these titles, which we missed the first time around.
The Tale of Onogoro review (PSVR)
With about a month left before PSVR2 launches, we’re in that “silence before the storm” period, so it was nice to see another game being released for the original PSVR headset. The Tale of Onogoro came out for the Quest first, after getting a PCVR port over the summer. The PlayStation VR build came out around Christmas, and the game was developed by Amata K.K, who also made Last Labyrinth.
The Tale of Onogoro certainly is an ambitious title, as an action adventure with an anime art style that’s narrative-driven – something we see regularly on the flat screen but rarely in VR. Plot-wise, you’re a god-like being who gets called to the island of Onogoro by Haru, a girl who was viciously attacked and calls upon you to help get rid of the evil that’s plaguing the island. And unlike the norm for VR, it’s a story that unfolds through plenty of cutscenes and dialogue.
But while impressive, the game goes a bit overboard with this notion, creating a bit of imbalance between story exposition and actual gameplay. And that’s a shame, because the gameplay is actually pretty diverse and fun once you get to it. There are puzzles, there’s some combat, and there are even some very cool boss fights to engage with.
What helps is that the presentation for all of this is spot-on – The Tale of Onogoro makes you feel like you’re actually inside of an anime, especially when you enable the Japanese voiceovers (there’s an English dub too, but it’s not particularly well done). It’s nice to see this level of polish so late in the lifecycle of the PSVR headset, and with the incompatibility between PSVR and PSVR2 we might not get many titles this good-looking any time soon.
The Tale of Onogoro certainly isn’t perfect though, and its over-reliance on story isn’t its only flaw. Even though they work quite well for most of the gameplay, Sony’s Move controllers are immersion-breaking when it comes to movement, and there are times where the PS4/PSVR combo we played this with seemed to struggle a bit. Still, the VR anime angle is enough of a curiosity to make this one interesting to VR enthusiasts with a PSVR, especially if you’re not jumping on the PSVR2 bandwagon any time soon.
Car Mechanic Simulator VR review (PSVR)
Developed by GameFormatic and Red Dot Games, Car Mechanic is another VR title that came to PlayStation VR recently, making sure that Sony’s first headset doesn’t go quietly into the night. As you’d expect from a “simulator” title this one got its start on PC-based VR headsets, but the Quest launch during the summer turned out to be a stepping stone for a PSVR port as well.
As someone who’d probably reach for the phone before even popping the hood in case of car trouble, I found Car Mechanic Simulator VR to be an interesting concept, though I wish it had a bit more handholding for novices like myself. As it is, the garage you’re presented with after/during the tutorial can feel a bit overwhelming, but that also means it’s satisfying when you manage to complete one of the many jobs you’ll be faced with.
Rewards don’t just come in the shape of upgrades and additional challenges to complete – you can also drive the cars you’re repaired around on a dedicated track. And once you get started on the ‘career’, these drives will be nice diversions from the grind of building your garage up from almost nothing, as all those tools you got in the tutorial scenario get taken away again and have to be earned once more.
Managing your garage is about more than just selecting and performing jobs though – you’ll also have to order parts, prep the cars for the repair job and acquire the upgrades needed for more complex scenarios. As with many ‘job simulator’-type games, it’s addictive to keep learning and adding to your repertoire, and with decent visuals, good use of motion controls and fitting sound effects it’s quite immersive to play – especially because the game performs well on the PSVR headset too. If you have an interest in car repair, or some curiosity as to how it’s all done when you drop off your car, this is a great little VR game to help you lift the lid on that.
Timberman VR review (Quest)
It’s been a busy few weeks for GameFormatic, because in addition to Car Mechanic Simulator for PSVR (see above) they also launched a Quest port of Timberman VR, which previously came out for PC-based headsets as a port of a 2D game. It’s a fun little mini-game type experience based around the act of chopping down trees, but as you’d expect it does get a little repetitive when played for a long time.
The game does a decent enough job with its core premise though, as you’re not just hacking away at a tree in the same direction all the time. Instead, prompts will tell you which direction to chop in as you slice away individual slices of the tree (which unrealistically comes straight down rather than falling over). And while that still sounds a bit boring, they manage to also mix that up with a need to chop away side branches and other obstacles before you can land a successful hit and get rid of the next piece of the tree.
This makes for a challenging game where you try to execute all these moves as quickly as possible without making too many mistakes, and because you can earn upgrades you’ll start doing this with different weapons as well. The game times you, and gives you a higher score for accuracy as well. It would have been cool if the game used the Quest’s wireless nature to let you walk around the tree and trim it that way as well, but it wasn’t designed with that in mind – plus for big trees you’re need quite a bit of space to move around in.
Despite the option to unlock new tools and even locations, Timberman VR stays a fairly straightforward little game that’s almost arcade-like in its appeal. It’s definitely best played in short bursts, but it’s also a good option for VR novices for whom Beat Saber is a tad too overwhelming, and you can’t beat the price either.