The promise of VR to me is having the chance to explore new worlds. Kayak VR: Mirage lets you do just that with real places, from Antartica to Australia. This was the first game I fired up on the PlayStation VR2, not to Kayak, but to relax in.
I’ve never gone kayaking, however I do believe this title lets you experience a glimpse of what it feels like. If you paddle like you’re meant to your arms will experience the burning pain from using those muscles. Originally I was using the oar right until I found I could twirl my wrists in circular motions to give the same feedback as if I was kayaking properly. I didn’t purchase the game to race against others, which is I’m glad it feels secondary to exploring the wonderful sights.
There is an optional quest that can be found in each area that has you take an inflatable toy to another area. To do so you need to manoeuvre it with your Kayak and Oar. This sort of thing is fun. You also find areas that seem to be a trick on the eyes from afar until you paddle up to them and find it was real. This could be where the title Mirage comes into the game. You can choose to experience each map by day, night, and even stormy weather. The variety is great and keeps the maps feeling new and unique.
My favourite thing I did was chased a whale that I saw from one side of the map going above water. It was gone by the time I got there. So I stuck my head underwater and sure enough was able to see the whale still under the water moving. Every time I thought I was catching up to him I would stick my head back under the water and course correct. If you are right above him you can see him from above your Kayak too. Whenever I was close I was met with a bit of fear in sticking my head underwater in fear I would meet him face on. The beauty of VR in a game like this is sensing the size of things. After chasing the whale for some time I ended up feeling like Ahab. Ironically once the whale came up from the water at the front of my Kayak I achieved the trophy Moby Dick for spotting a whale.
If Kayaking is not your thing and you would just like to float about in open water on different maps this game will still be a treat for you. The price point is good and I feel like I have had my money’s worth without even pursuing the racing components of the game. Kayak VR: Mirage is a great title to show the family and friends. It may even work for some as a gym workout for the arms. Or just a game to warmup with before jumping into some VR games. Overall, Kayak VR: Mirage is a lovely experience.
Gaming has never been better, or bigger than it is today. The plateau has been reached as far as gaming generations are concerned. Leaps will continue pushing the specs, but the technology is here. Now it’s up to the creativity and innovation from developers to engage gamers. VR is a different story, and it will require generations of technical feats. As it stands today, VR is still in its infancy and sooner rather than later the way we interact with VR will truly be revolutionary in the way we interact with it, and of course they way we use it to play games.
PlayStation VR came out in back in 2016, and it was a modest intro into the VR space for PlayStation gamers. It hit the markets as the cheapest way to get into VR at the time just before VR was available. It didn’t take long for the PlayStation VR to leave the spotlight as more convenient devices like the Oculus Quest made simple innovations that created significantly better experiences. For one the tracking on the original PlayStation VR was difficult to navigate as the controls and headset needed to be in view of the PlayStation Camera. There were also at least three cords coming out of the headset that were immersion breaking as you fought the tangles. Seeing your surroundings was also impossible without taking off the headset and requiring you to spend minutes readjusting to get yourself back into the game. All these detractors would make it a chore just to choose setting up the VR resulting in gamers playing a non VR game instead. After the initial line up of games seemed to drizzle out it was questionable if another iteration would be made.
The PlayStation VR2 is the promise of Sony’s continued support for the VR peripheral. They quashed most of the negatives from the original and innovated. Most importantly the power of this machine comes straight from the PlayStation 5 without first being input into a processor unit. The image quality is fantastic, nearing clarity, although not crystal clear. The sense of immersion with haptic feedback in the headset, as well as the Sense controllers is tantalising to the senses. You put your hand in virtual water and the sensations are making that water feel real as though it is running through your hands. Eye tracking is like witchery allowing for you to select cursory items with your eyes. There is also the ability to see your surroundings without taking off the VR headset. Most importantly in competing with other VR headsets is that this headset is comfortable and easy to set up. Literally plug and play.
Games vary case by case. This is due to how much developers have worked towards porting the game for the PlayStation VR2. Exclusives are as good as it gets with games like Horizon: Call of the Mountain that have utilised the power of the PlayStation VR2 to what hopefully becomes the standard. The technology has brought PlayStation in line with competing VR devices so games can now be produced for multiple systems with ease. This should ease minds for gamers that worry if Sony were to stop producing exclusive VR titles since we will see most third party games come to this system.
In the time I’ve spent with PlayStation VR2 I have had nearly no motion sickness, whereas with the original I was hit with it during every session. There are plenty of games on offer already to fit any gamer. Even if you like simple experiences like doing a jigsaw or paddling in a kayak you can find them in PlayStation VR2. There are more high octane experiences like Pistol Whip, and exhilarating multiplayer in games like After the Fall. Resident Evil: Village will unsettle like you are playing it for the first time There are a range of demos available to try out if you can only afford a couple of games to begin with after the cost of the unit. I suspect that the free popular social game Rec Room will make its debut on PSVR2 soon opening up the fun to lobby’s of hilarious experiences with others around the globe.
Overall, the PlayStation VR2 is an exceptional leap over its predecessor with a future to flourish alongside the competition as they all work together in evolving the scope and the vision of where VR can go today. In a time met with financial hardships for many the PlayStation VR2 is a luxury, one that will only become more appealing as the library of games and players widen. With a year of big game releases ahead you may not find yourself feeling left out, although come Christmas time I imagine this will be found under many trees.
Look forward to VR game reviews to come in the future.