How We Soar
Developer: Penny Black Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Nausea: Some/Dependent on VR Experience
Controllers: DS4 Only
Only a few short weeks after we took to the skies of Paris in Eagle Flight, we fly again. This time on the back of a phoenix, as we bring colour to a story written in the sky.
If you already own Eagle Flight and were looking for a completely different experience, you may not find it here. How We Soar has a fair few similarities with Eagle Flight and a few important differences. For starters you fly atop a phoenix, you are not the actual animal. This is a subtle but important difference as it allows you to look around you without moving in that direction. Your vision is not as impaired as in Eagle Flight, though do have to contend with the phoenix’s massive, but beautiful, wings blocking your view as it flaps around.
The first level sees you soaring a landless world in a beautiful blue sky. As you look around you can’t fail to be impressed by the beautiful surroundings. As you look forward you see the brilliant red and orange feathers of the huge phoenix on which you’re sitting. If front of you are odd shapes that look like they’re made from colourless paper. As you approach them your phoenix’s wings flap and colour washes over the empty pages of giant, floating books – a satisfying game mechanic. As the levels progress the paper is sculpted into more and more interesting shapes and landscapes such as a castle, a giant sea monster and a moving train set. The levels are varied enough with one taking you into outer space and another below the waves.
The gameplay is simple; you are tasked with flying through rings in a particular order and then you collect different coloured orbs that appear shortly after. Once you have collected all the orbs in one section of a level, a bird of that same colour will be released, and you much chase and catch it. Once you catch the bird you unlock a piece of the story. Unlock all of the story segments in each level and you’ve completed it. In the beginning you only fly through red rings and collect red orbs but as levels get longer you find yourself collecting red, green, blue and eventually pink ones as well. The blue and pink birds can be especially tricky to catch as they’re more maneuverable than their red and green counterparts.
The controls work well but handling of the bird feels slow – though that is to be expected as you are flying a rather large phoenix. It can feel cumbersome to turn at first and you may miss your targets in the beginning. If you’re anything like me you’ll have to fly around in circles several times before you manage to reach your target. Movement is also slow. There is a boost but it doesn’t boost you very far, nor for very long – this is particularly frustrating at the end of levels when you’re on the other side of the map from the exit.
The story is not original but the way in which it’s told is. I won’t give details as I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice to say I didn’t find myself that invested and I wouldn’t suggest purchasing the game if you’re wanting a deep story.
The visuals and art-style works well for the most part. The visuals are somewhat blurry, especially in the distance which is where you need to be looking the majority of the time. I had wondered whether my lenses needed cleaning but I looked closer, at the bird, and everything was in focus and clear. After completing a few levels I’d gotten used to the blurriness and forgot about it. The game is colourful, even more so after you add colour back into the pages littered around each level. On the whole it’s not a bad looking PSVR game, and in some respects is absolutely gorgeous. The music is great, fits perfectly with the tone and enhances the experience overall.
There’s more than enough here for your money. The story will take you anywhere from 5 to 8 hours and for trophy hunters it could take a lot longer. There is a trophy for “painting” each level completely and trust me when I say some of the levels are quite sizeable so this could take quite some time.
If you’re looking for an action game then you’re looking in the wrong place with How We Soar. If you’re looking for a laid-back, unique and immersive experience – like a mix of Flower, The Unfinished Swan and Eagle Flight – then How We Soar could be for you. However, if you’ve recently played Eagle Flight, it might be a bird-sim overload.
Verdict: 7/10 – A laid-back and beautiful experience.