Wayward Sky (VR)

If you were alive in the 90s, chances are you played a game like King’s Quest, or Leisure Suit Larry – Sierra made it’s name on the point and click adventure. My personal favorite was the Space Quest Series, although I’m so old that I remember playing text-based adventure games. (Editor’s Note to self: We really need to start a “James is old” tally.)

We would spend hours learning to spell just so we could type simple phrases that went “look at door” or “beg troll” or “walk north”.  I’m not joking.  If you don’t believe me, ask your parents.  One day, almost out of the blue, we were blown away: Sierra started to release games that supported VGA graphics, and that highest of high tech devices, the mouse.  And the point-and-click adventure was born.

Pixel art was once the cutting edge of game development, not just a style choice.  The charm of those early point-and-click adventures was in how cheesy the jokes were.  For instance, collecting an iceberg lettuce to throw it into a boiling lake about four or five screens later.

Enough nostalgia: we are here to discuss Wayward Sky by Uber Entertainment.  Yes, it owes a lot to those point-and-click games, but the game’s creators have brought a freshness to the formula.  They don’t rely on lame jokes, or a quirky inventory system.   What is does have is a unique pastel environment, with a warm, emotive score. Don’t get me wrong there are still humorous moments, like holding onto a chicken’s legs so she can fly you over a void – but this game makes you feel like you’ve truly entered another world.

You play as Bess, aviator and the game’s protagonist.

The game starts as Bess and her father crash their crop-dusting biplane on a floating city, which is populated with cool robots. Bess is separated from her father and your job is to guide Bess through a series of puzzles to reunite her with her father, solve the mystery of this floating city and make your way home. Every now and there is a cutscene that helps explain the backstory of the world you’re in and Bess’s family.

Whomever wrote those scenes was a dramatic master that will soon be working in Hollywood; well at least television, or possibly some kind of Skydance film.  I don’t know, but it’s pretty good writing.

The Uber Entertainment team also came up with a really interesting solution to VR sickness: when you’re character is navigating around the world, you play from a third-person perspective that switches to a first-person view when you’re solving puzzles. This third-person view feels like you’re floating around a quirky doll’s house, but in a good way. And, it’s a very attractive, cartoony, doll’s house. The game artists use this unique perspective very well.  Animations that tell the story unfold around you, and you can look at events from pretty much whatever angle suits you.

In third-person view, there is a thin laser line for the PS Move controls.  A quick pull of the trigger “clicks” the object in question.  Based on where the laser line hits, the game works out if you want Bess to move, or if you want her to interact with an object. In first-person view, the PS Move controllers are represented as hands. What surprised me was how accurate, and intuitive the control scheme is. The Uber Entertainment team have clearly spent a lot of time optimizing their controls and making sure the game was accessible to the casual gamer. They’ve also clearly spent a lot of time testing their puzzles. Everything is achievable.

Beyond the core experience, Sony’s Social Screen function means that people around can help you solve the puzzles if you get stuck (although that’s unlikely). Also, hidden around the world are little “tokens” you can collect to unlock cool Easter eggs.

The Indie Gamer Chick wants us to make our reviews funny , but in this case that’s really hard. It’s very rare for me to play a game that emotionally resonates with me.  Wayward Skies hit me right in the feels. (Editor’s Note: James has feels? Did someone forget to update his firmware again?) Uber Entertainment delivered one of those games that really gains your respect.

Yes, it’s a 3-hour experience, but frankly I give the creators credit for ending the game when the story ends and concluding the story before the game gets “samey”. In some ways, Wayward Sky shows the visual limitations of the PSVR, but the game is so relentlessly charming that you honestly won’t care. When I finished the story, I felt the kind of resolution you feel at the end of a really good book or film. I was happy for the characters and where they all ended up.

If you own a PlayStation VR, Wayward Sky should absolutely be on your “must buy” list and it should also be one of the first games you play. It’s also one of the cheaper VR games in the Sony Store; it cost me $28.95 Australian dollars. It’s probably cheaper in your territory.

Buy this game – buy it now. (Editor’s Note: Adjust James’ hype meter.)

Wayward Sky was developed by Uber Entertainment

Point of Sale: PS4

Wayward Sky is available from the PlayStation Store for US$19.99.  A price at which you should most definitely click “purchase”.

James Newburrie has awarded Wayward Sky the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.

A review copy of Wayward Sky was purchased by James Newburrie for review for AU$28.95

James Newburrie is old enough to remember when playing video games involved hassling his parents for change and a lift to the arcade. He has owned consoles from every generation (when they were new), and his pile of shame (see: Backlog) is taller than him, and may possibly have grown sentient. He still isn’t sure about the analogue control stick.  These days, he is only really interested in VR games as they are the only reliable escape from his dull, comfortably middle-class corporate life.  James blogs at difficultnerd.com

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