There aren’t many VR games out there that actually let you walk around your virtual environment. Even on PC, many a VR game is limited to “rooted to the spot” or teleportation. Now that Farpoint is here, we can add it to the very small list of “go where you like” VR games, next to Resident Evil 7. Suffice it to say, as much as I loath to compare one game to another, in a review of all things… When there are so few like these available to us right now, it’s pretty damned hard not to.
Developer: Impulse Gear
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Avg Game Length: 5.5 hours
Certificate: 16+ / M
So the burning question (that we’ll try to shy away from in a moment at the risk of being hypocrites) is – “is Farpoint as good as Resident Evil 7”? Instead of answering that straight away, let’s start off by saying the shooting mechanics are surprisingly better. A lot better. Farpoint has the advantage of being a sole VR title, instead of stretching its resources across both standard and VR. So, more creativity has been injected into the design here.
Particularly satisfying is lifting your controller up to your face in order to look down the sights. There’s something special about being in the virtual world and still needing to close one eye to see properly down the sights. This is doing for VR shooters what Call of Duty did for the idea of looking down the sight. Just as it was then, this is fresh, fun and probably important.
Farpoint Lacks For Much Else To Entertain Its Audience
Putting these mechanics to use fairly regularly is just about all players will be doing in Farpoint. Indeed, every level in the game is essentially getting from A to B and killing nasties on the way. It was fairly late on that I discovered I could hide behind cover and physically stick my arm out around it. Wildly blind-firing with my infinite clips was rewarding because it worked. It was my idea and the enemy A.I isn’t smart enough to do anything about it. Aside from this, let’s be clear. There are no collectables. No inventory screens or character progression. And there are no alternate pathways to explore. Farpoint is a linear piece of sci fi narrative that players are expected to survive to conclusion.
Whether that’s a bad thing will be entirely up to the opinion of whoever happens to play Farpoint. Yet this limiting form of game delivery is something Impulse Gear were obviously aware of. They’ve popped in co-op campaign and challenge modes for players to take advantage of. Which is nice as the campaign is fairly short – standard for VR titles these days. As far as the campaign is concerned, Impulse Gear are to be commended on enemy variety. I don’t want to spoil anything… So let’s just say the crazy giant head-crab types you’ve seen in trailers are just the beginning.
As players unveil different kinds of foes, they’ll be forced to plan ahead and fight in different ways. Putting these plans into action is no different from surviving any other fight in a shooter. Yet, Farpoint has the advantage of being the only game available that delivers it this well in Playstation VR.
Clever Narrative Beats Must Step In To Support Farpoint
As fun as the shooting in Farpoint may be, there’s no denying that a decent story is needed to prop up this one dimensional gameplay. After the intro our exposure to storytelling is limited to hologram recordings. While this may have seemed the logical conclusion to go with, story-wise, it comes with an inherent problem. From start to finish, the player may feel a little empty and pointless in what they’re doing. They may have just seen this great segment of story with a killer cliffhanger… Then it’s back to blamming away at aliens for ten minutes before you get to see the next part. Games have fallen victim to this narrative blueprint before.
It’s not a major issue, frankly as we’ve come here to chew gum and blow aliens up. Yet it does give the game a juddery sense of momentum as it jumps from one chapter to the next. The sequence of events are solid enough. However, what we get in the finished article will leave players wondering what else could have been done to improve the story and how that could have improved the game massively. While Interstellar combines real science with a fantastical twist of its own, Farpoint’s ambitions reach for similar heights but do so almost lazily. I won’t spoiler anything but if I laid out the events of the story, we’d be looking at five bullet points, tops. And the last one is a bit of a middle finger to players who have invested several hours to get there.
So What We Have Is Dependable Yet Simplistic Shooter Fun
So let’s circle back around to our original burning question. Farpoint is not better or worse than Resident Evil 7. It’s a completely different kind of game, aiming for different things. I could stretch to say Resident Evil 7 achieved its goals more thoroughly than I think Farpoint did. Yet, like the premise of Farpoint, creating games for VR is cutting edge stuff and developers are still exploring the frontiers of what can be done.
If Farpoint’s goal was to prioritise shooting mechanics over storytelling, then it absolutely succeeded. If its goals were the other way around, then it failed. When you take the package of Farpoint in its entirety, what do you have? A simple, easy to pick up bite sized chunk of fun sci fi. Neither its story nor its gameplay will stretch your brain functions. I couldn’t honestly say Farpoint earns its asking price. Though, if you’ve got some games to trade in, definitely pick this one up at a slightly reduced price.