I've played quite a few VR games that feel more like tech demos than fully fleshed out games. Things like Dexed or O! My Genesis VR seem to have solid ideas but do little with them. At first, I thought Island Time VR would fall into this category. A simple survival game where you don't have the room to move. Does this end up fun or should you just cut your island time short?
The game strands you on an extremely small island where there's little room to stand. This isle is home to two inhabitants: Carl the Crab and Steven the Seagul. Steven believes he's above the law and swoops on deadly ground to try and steal your hard earned food. Carl is somehow worse than this, and that genuinely takes a monumental effort. Kinda Funny's Greg Miller provides Carl's voice, and he turns in a perfectly good performance. The problem is that there are so few lines and they repeat so often that you're soon begging for death. I'm not entirely sure what the goal is here, but all I want to do by the end of a session is cook Carl for dinner.
Your only goal is to keep yourself alive, and the only stat you have to keep track of is your health. Your health slowly drains as you play, and the only way you can recover is by eating. Thankfully, the island does provide some supplies. You have some sticks, a box of rocks, a couple of logs, and a coconut tree. You'll have to use and combine these tools to assist in your survival. Combine a stick and a rock and you'll make yourself a spear, which you can then use to go spearfishing for a new food source. Or you can smack two rocks together to make sparks, light those logs aflame, and cook a meal.
The problem is that this is the entire game. There are so few things to do outside of the most basic survival techniques. You hunt the same fish, knock down the same coconuts, and combine the same items until you die, either from game mechanics or boredom. I saw everything Island Time VR had to offer in a mere five minutes. No matter how much I tried to go back to the game to give it one more try, I never found anything new to keep me around.
All of this is, of course, assuming the game even works properly. Often my spear passes through fish unharmed, ruining my fishing attempts. I have constant issues with the camera or Move controllers drifting, which requires a slew of resets to restore their location. I also get the feeling that Island Time VR's PlayStation VR version was a bit of an afterthought, as many of the game's actions required me to move outside of acceptable boundaries.
Light yourself on fire? You're supposed to stick your hands into the water to put them out, but this action simply isn't possible. I couldn't lower the controllers far enough without leaving the play area. I also had trouble collecting supply crates or items for similar reasons. No matter what I did to try and adjust the play zone to be the proper size, it was just never possible. Maybe I just don't have enough room for the game, but Island Time VR is the first game I had difficulty playing because of this issue.
All that's left is a pleasant game to look at. I guess when you're only designing one tiny environment, it's not hard to make it look great. The vibrant colors really popped, and the game's art style helped when the technical work wasn't quite up to snuff. Some things, like Carl's lip sync not even closely matching what he's saying, take me out of the moment. Still, I found the game at least provided a decent view for a little while.
When I sat down to write this review I struggled to say anything beyond "it's a video game". It is true, Island Time VR is indeed a video game. It's just not one that really does anything noteworthy, and then piles annoying voice acting and general glitches on top of that. In my introduction, I mention games that feel more like proof of concepts. Games that need more content to make them shine. Island Time VR is the proof of concept that should have just been rejected.
Island Time VR barely works correctly, and it's an extremely shallow survival game that is often annoying when it does.
- Game Can Look Pretty
- Carl the Crab's Repetitive Voice Lines
- Shallow and Boring Gameplay Loop
- Glitchy PlayStation VR Port