When PlayStation VR launched my thoughts on the best genres went towards first person games, puzzles and shooters, and I struggled to think on how any third person game would function. Uber Entertainment seemed to have a much better idea than me as Wayward Sky blends both first person puzzle solving and point and click style adventure games. Is the combination a winner, or is this game as wayward as its title claims?
The game starts off when Bess, a young barnstormer who recently lost her mom in an accident, and her father are flying their airplane, only to be shot down and crash landing on a mysterious floating city inhabited only by robots. When Bess' father is kidnapped by one of these robots, she sets off to go find him. Along the way, she'll meet other robots, learn the history of the flying city, and try to save her dad. It's a nice story, tackling themes of loss, depression, and how to handle both. I cared for the characters at the end, although some of the robots felt rather out of place. One of them, in particular, felt too chatty and goofy, like he was lifted out of a completely different game accidentally. Still, by the end, I enjoyed Wayward Sky's tale.
Wayward Sky blends point and click adventure games and first person VR puzzle games rather well. You'll spend most of the game looking over the world like the characters are just toys for you to play with. One Move Controller (you can pick which one in the options) serves as a laser pointer, and you can use it to order Bess around, picking where she goes and what she interacts with. It's a setup that works surprisingly well, allowing me good control over Bess and easily getting her where I needed her to be. Using these simple yet effective controls, players can easily lead Bess through the game's two to three-hour story mode.
When you select an object of interest, you switch into a first person perspective, seeing things from Bess' point of view and controlling her hands with Move Controllers. From here you can manipulate objects, allowing you to work at little stations, pull levers, twist light bulbs, and work out all sorts of other fine motor skills. None of the puzzles in Wayward Sky are really that challenging, more serving as VR introductory puzzles than anything else. That's not to say some of them weren't interesting, as figuring out how to adjust platforms by turning dials to help another pilot who crashed in the city cross a gap was pretty fun, but often I had a solution in mind ahead of time and didn't need more than a single shot to get it solved.
Sometimes, the puzzles became a problem for different reasons. While figuring out solutions wasn't tough, occasionally enacting them was. For some reason, Wayward Sky did not seem to like twisting or circular movements with the Move controllers, and turning valves or screwing in light bulbs became difficult when the controls did not respond properly. Assembling items was also challenging, with Bess' hands shooting off randomly as you attempt to attach items together properly. It's not often enough to really wreck the game, but more than once I found myself annoyed by controls that weren't quite up to the task.
As you explore you can find various collectibles in the game. There are eggs and wind chimes hidden around levels, each of which can be found in different ways. Eggs you simply have to see in the environment and point at them with your pointer to collect them. Find enough eggs and you can assemble robots to play with in a SHMUP styled mini-game that isn't much more than a brief distraction. Wind chimes require a little more work to uncover, requiring you to actually physically get Bess to reach them so you can reassemble them. Despite the extra work, they serve no purpose other than completing a collection.
While you advance through the game, you'll get to take in some nice locations. Wayward Sky features a smart art style, one that uses bright and popping colors to make up for it not being quite as technically impressive as some other PlayStation 4 games. The game features a good soundtrack and decent voice acting as well, though nothing that stands out as something I'd remember long after playing the game. I did like how the game's story segments were told, looking like cardboard dioramas sliding around inside of a box, like someone is putting on a play.
I do believe that Wayward Sky has a good place in being a great introduction to VR for non-gamers or younger gamers. It has simple puzzles and a well-told story that hits some clever moments and good messages wrapped up in a nice art style. Seasoned gamers will likely be put off by how easy and short it is, as well as its occasionally frustrating controls. If you can get past that, it may be worth flying in these skies for a bit.
Wayward Sky was reviewed on a PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Wayward Sky's story is a nice and simple affair and it does a good job introducing people to VR and using it in creative ways. Yet finicky controls, short running time, and general ease keeps the game from soaring.
- Simple Heartwarming Story
- Creative VR Ideas
- Nice Art Style
- Short Campaign
- Generally Too Easy
- Controls Get Wonky at Times