Platform Reviewed: PlayStation VR (PS4)
Platforms Available: PlayStation VR (PS4, PS4 Pro)
Release Date: November 8, 2016
MSRP: USD 59.99 (PHP 2,695.00)
When I first saw the Robinson: The Journey’s trailer last year, I was absolutely stunned and fascinated. In a first-person’s view that was shown in the trailer, you get to see a robotic-companion that floats and tells you “Robin, your friend has led us in a bit of situation. Are you ready to play a little game?” And these short-bipedal dinosaurs run towards you with Longnecks in the mix… then a horned-Tyrannosaurus Rex appears that stares at you before the trailer ends. I was thrilled for the game’s release.
Robinson: The Journey is the VR game that I’ve been waiting for. Why? Because dinosaurs have been my favorite species since I was a kid. The VR games that I’ve played on mobile VR with dinosaurs were not that immersive than I initially expected, but Robinson is a game changer for me on high-quality VR.
You’re Robin, a young boy, survivor of an expedition from Earth that’s looking for a planet to colonize. You have your Alfred-Pennyworth-like flying robot companion named HIGS that keeps you safe, and also helps you along your journey to find your parents. And you also have your adopted 1playful baby T-Rex, Laika, which you discovered hatching from a dino-egg after her mother was killed by another predator.
You traverse in an Earth-like planet, named Tyson III, with creatures and flora that are similar to Earth’s. It’s not another No Man’s Sky planet if you’re wondering, don’t worry. With its unique environment and creature designs, it makes Tyson III like another version of good ol’ Earth in the future with dinosaurs still dominating.
There is a lot to discover in the world of Tyson III. You get to discover these creatures that are similar to Earth’s but with some unique traits. Let’s take in a snake for example. In Tyson III, these snakes have tiny little feet that makes them more agile. Crytek did an impressive job in making Tyson III to feature some odd and weird similar creatures from our world, and tweak them in terms of design to make them different in some way.
The narrative is flat, linear, convenient, and all-in-all highly predictable. It all goes to the path of discovering the truth behind all of what happened to your space-cruise ship, the Esmeralda. Searching all these so-called HIGS is also part of your main objective to find out if there are survivors who safely escaped. Disappointingly, it felt more like a chore instead of an actual adventure.
What makes Robinson lovely and fun is the ability to give commands to Laika, and the all-around sarcastic humor of HIGS. It never felt dull even if the story was linear. The company you get from both makes you develop the importance of their presence. You have this loyal pet that’s adorable enough but doesn’t piss you off even if she wanders around or even disappear.
Gameplay involves the basics of an adventure game. The absence of the PS Move motion controllers support was a great decision by Crytek. With the PS Move controllers, you can’t simply walk around with the absence of the analog sticks. It makes the adventure more realistic and immersive when you’re able to walk around.
At first, it was awkward with the ‘Pie-Chart’ (every turn, your camera’s view turns once to a certain degree) rotation mode using the right analog stick. But then I went to the options menu and was able to set the Rotation Mode to “Smooth” that makes the turns continuous. Not all VR games support these kind of options, unfortunately, and it’s good to note that Crytek didn’t miss out thinking what other players would prefer.
It also involves a lot of climbing which made motion sickness even worse. You have to tilt your head and look at these fungus and ladders to climb while pressing the L2/R2 to grab them. However, that might explain the lack of sprinting – too avoid some worse case of motion sickness. The controls shows you can sprint by pressing the L3 button but it didn’t work for me.
You have your PS Move Controller-looking multi-tool at your disposal where you have the ability to lift things without using your hands, it also does some scanning feature for you to get the biology data of each creature you find in Tyson III. Being a scientific explorer in the game changes the game’s pace and can keep you astray from the main story. But you can ditch being a scientific explorer and just get on with the plot.
It does add up the replay value of Robinson though, because after the main story you still get to be back to do more adventure and scanning jobs to do. There are also hidden things to discover in Tyson III, and that can keep you playing more than the 3 hour long narrative of Robinson.
Robinson is one of the best looking PlayStation VR games since RIGS. Crytek’s CryEngine definitely delivers this great immersive world that every PlayStation VR owners have. The rich vibrant world of Tyson III is up for the looks. Every level of detail, dinosaur 3D models and rendering, and the lighting effects are remarkable.
Crytek was able to squeeze every bit of power from the current PS4’s hardware. Don’t forget the graphical upgrade that the PS4 Pro has in store for Robinson – no doubt that it will look more visually appealing than what the current PS4 has to offer.
There are moments you have from this beautiful walking and climbing adventure, but you can’t deny the fact the motion sickness in Robinson is heavily impacting. I have played other VR games that involves movement like Battlezone, RIGS, and EVE Valkyrie which didn’t give me this kind of motion sickness I experienced in Robinson.
When the game started especially the walking part, it made me feel light-headed and dizzy. It was tad horrible. I forced myself to still play through even if I was experiencing motion sickness. It took me like about 30 minutes then I had to take the VR headset off my head to rest. It took some time for my brain to adapt in the world of VR in Robinson after a couple of tries. From then on, I didn’t experience any motion sickness.
The straightforward and flat story of Robinson is quite expected especially in most VR games anyway. Nobody can simply put 8 hours in a whole VR experience because of the motion sickness problem. But adding that aside, Robinson: The Journey did allure me enough with its visuals and adorable characters, and its thrilling up-close experience with dinosaurs, but not enough to make me replay the whole game from the beginning for a second time.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the developers/publisher.