Review: Wayward Sky (PSVR)

When it comes to virtual reality, the vast majority of developers focus on first-person experiences for players to enjoy. The reason for this is easy enough to grasp. It just makes sense that the first-person perspective proves immensely immersive in VR. Not every developer is keen on sticking with this relatively restrictive camera perspective, though. Uber Entertainment, the name behind Planetary Annihilation and Super Monday Night Combat, released Wayward Sky onto PSVR earlier this month. It’s one of the few third-person perspective games represented thus far on the platform and proves that this method of play works just as well as first person. It may, however, lead some to question whether or not it benefits from being played within virtual reality.

Wayward Sky brings with it a fantastical realm and an interesting little tale. We’re first greeted with Bess and her father – both pilots – flying through the sky. Unfortunately, it appears their plane has suffered serious damage and is forced to crash land. This would have been a big enough issue in and of itself, but things are about to get worse. A gigantic robot appears and takes Bess’s father away! As ridiculous as the storyline might seem up front, it does justify the whole robot thing in a children’s storybook fashion. Weirdly enough, the storyline delves into themes which feel like they could really distress children, even though the presentation is so outwardly child friendly. Beyond the storytelling, players will spend most of their time exploring the game world, solving puzzles, and outsmarting robots.

The gameplay is quite simple to get accustomed to. Using either the PS Move controllers or a DualShock 4, players “point” to destinations on screen to move Bess there. The top-down perspective makes the world feel a bit small, but not so much that it’s a challenge to see where things are. On the other hand, the social screen version of Wayward Sky looks much further away which could cause trouble for anyone trying to watch the gameplay on TV. In any case, this point and click movement makes it easy to move the character around with little issue. Precise control isn’t required, but certainly helps when you’re trying to solve a puzzle while dodging enemy robots. Most puzzles relate to flipping switches and pressing buttons until a path unlocks itself.

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They’re not the most mentally taxing puzzles. In fact, they’re the sort that can be resolved by pure guess and check if you really can’t figure them out. This fits in with the youthful presentation of everything. From the bright colors to stumbling, silly robots, Wayward Sky proves utterly charming. This is not meant to be a difficult puzzler which nearly forces you want to tear your hair out. No, it’s meant as a world you want to immerse yourself in for two to four hours before completing it. The good-hearted nature reveals itself in multiple ways. For example, there’s basically no way to die while playing. Even if you get in the way of an enemy bot they’ll basically just block your path rather than harm Bess.

As charming as the world and characters inhabiting it are, it eventually starts to drain the player. Puzzles without much work required to solve them also lack that “aha” factor. Pointing about the stage with a controller or PS Move wand is also not nearly as convenient as simply using a mouse or analog stick. There is something cool about seeing Wayward Sky up close, but not so much so that it demands the usage of a virtual reality headset. Even the cartoony visuals are impacted by the jagged edges and resolution downgrade of VR.

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Closing Comments:

Anyone looking for a simple game to introduce their children to virtual reality with may find Wayward Sky a good choice. It fits the bill thanks to the easy to grasp gameplay control and kindness of puzzles. Nothing about the game (even its brief first person segments), however, proves the necessity of playing within VR. My hope is that Wayward Sky is eventually released as a standard 2D experience on PS4 or even PC. The game is a fun, brief romp and might in fact be dampened by PSVR’s shortcomings with regards to control and visual fidelity.