Time Machine VR
Developer: Minority Media Inc.
Release Date: Out Now
Nausea: Limited/Dependent on VR Experience
Controllers: DS4 Only
Whereas Robinson: The Journey took you through the jungles of a world brimming with dinosaurs, Time Machine VR takes you under the sea into a watery world of ocean giants.
The year is 2033 and humanity is at risk of being wiped out by a global pandemic after unleashing a 65 million year old virus into the world. The cure? It’s back in dinosaur times! It doesn’t matter that the story is clichéd. I even turned a blind eye to the fact humanity seems to have invented and perfected time travel a mere seventeen years from now – it’s all a means to an end: getting you up close and personal with a few of history’s biggest aquatic beasts.
As you work through the story you’ll be travelling to four different time periods, with two or three different species of dinosaur swimming around each level. Your mission is to scan the various wildlife to aid you in your search for a cure. The first time you visit each of these areas, the gameplay is fairly linear. The computer onboard your submersible/aerial craft tells you what to do as he guides you on your way. Once all you’ve been to each level once the game frees up a little and you can return to finish scanning and collecting information with which to beat back the virus.
Each of the four levels is reached from a main hub area, which is situated above ground in 2033. Flying up as high as you can go is great fun, and this is coming from someone with a fear of heights. You can also access the main database here where you can read more information on the dinosaur discoveries you’ve already made.
There are multiple ways to scan creatures, from launching a probe at them, scanning specific organs with an x-ray, to attaching bait to them to attract a predator and then taking a snapshot of the ensuing bloodbath. These abilities aren’t all available at the start but are rather unlocked as you progress.
It’s not the best looking VR game, looking washed out in places and having a serious issue with “jaggies” throughout. But for a launch window PSVR game, for under £25 you can’t complain too much. The dinosaur models are nice, and especially terrifying when one comes out of nowhere. However, there is an issue with the animation of some of the smaller fish. They don’t appear to swim but rather teleport a few metres in front of themselves as they move. It’s odd and does break the immersion slightly. It would also The levels also feel rather barren, with only one having any flora of note. I can only imagine how pretty a game like this would be in a decades time.
The sound design is good and is in keeping with the games theme and aesthetic, so much so I didn’t give the audio a second thought until I began penning this review. The voice of your computer companion works and the other character’s voice is perfectly fitting, but that’s mainly down to the fact they used and show a real actor, rather than a computer generated character. The music is forgettable, even at tense moments where it would have really enhanced the drama. It’s a missed opportunity but not unforgivable.
The sense of scale is satisfying – the larger predators really do feel quite large. Some of the oceans are very deep and it feels like you could travel down forever. Looking up you can see the ever-present surface but unfortunately out of the hub area you can never break out above the water.
The controls work perfectly – I never lost control of my craft and it did not take long to learn exactly which icon represented which scanner tool. Traversing the deep feels great; weaving between rock formations is thrilling and accelerating away from enormous predators is exhilarating. The only way I would improve the controls is by adding the ability to to expedite travel, at points it feels quite sluggish.
I haven’t yet cured the virus completely myself, but I can assure you that by the time I have I’ll have had enough time with the game and be ready to move on. There may not be a huge amount of replayability here but it may end up being a title you throw on every now and then for a relaxing tour of the ancient seas.
It’s not the perfect game, but it is entertaining and for the current price tag you get’ll get more than enough playtime out of it.
Verdict: 7/10 – Well worth a look.