Tlön Industries and Raw Fury recently adapted Per Aspera to a virtual reality format, which is now available for Quest 2 headsets. We took a closer look.
It’s always interesting to see ‘flat screen’ games get adapted to VR platforms, and while some seem like a natural fit (Resident Evil 4 comes to mind) we’ve also seen a few that we weren’t expecting. Games likes Cities: VR seem daunting both on a technical level and from a control/mechanics perspective, but development teams are willing to take on these challenges and often manage to make it work quite well.
Per Aspera VR fits into that latter category – it’s a planetary simulation/base building game set on Mars, which you (as an AI in charge of the operation) are meant to terraform. As with the regular version of Per Aspera, that involves quite a bit of resource management and learning on the job, as you learn the hard way that some combinations of buildings and facilities work well together while others just drain your resources – or put you at risk of a big meltdown if one part of the chain gets damaged.
One of the biggest challenges of putting a game like this in VR is the visual interface – it’s easy enough to build and manage one thing in a row as first, but once things start to grow in complexity and the surface of the red planet get littered with structures and connections. This can look overwhelming, but Per Aspera VR does a decent job in making sure you don’t have to constantly micromanage everything that’s going on – which would’ve certainly made us miss our mouse and keyboard interface.
Instead, much of the strategic planning and building that you do is handled through radial dial menus and submenus – and the actual interactions with the planet surface is mostly limited to more of a ‘zoning’ mechanic where you designate functions rather than interact directly with everything that’s moving around on the surface. It works well in giving you the sense that you’re in control of a million things at once, while keeping things manageable with a pair of Touch controllers.
Visually, Per Aspera VR isn’t the most stunning VR game out there, but it has crisp visuals and smooth performance – both essential in a management game. To create additional immersiveness, the developers have added a ton of voiceover work to the game, featuring the likes of Troy Baker, Phil LaMarr and Laila Berzins to bring the game to life.
Does Per Aspera VR add something substantial to the flat screen version that wouldn’t work in VR? Probably not. Does it bring a non-VR genre to the medium in a fun and functional way? That it does, so VR enthusiasts looking to terraform the red planet will enjoy what it has to offer.