Monday, December 26, 2016

Robinson the Journey - Review


Robinson the Journey was one of the big releases for Sony's PlayStation VR, but sadly it was also one of the PSVR games that wasn't released at launch. Players who were eager to jump into this prehistoric world had to wait awhile before they could play it, and even when it came out the full price tag might have turned some off. Well, it's been a little over a month since I completed it and got the platinum trophy, so I figured now would be a good time to look back at it as the newness has worn off. So, was the game worth it? Let's find out.

The Story:

Robinson the Journey is the story of a young boy who crash lands on a strange world after the colony ship he lived on comes crashing down. He doesn't know why the ship crashed, nor does he know if anyone else survived it, but he soon finds himself all alone on this strange world with nothing but a flying robot at his side. Eager to find the others, Robinson sets out on a journey to uncover the secrets of the world, and to get to the bottom of what happened. This is the premise of the entire game, but sadly, this isn't really shown in the story itself.

Rather than taking you on the journey the early trailers showed, the game begins with Robinson meeting a baby T-Rex like dino, and deciding to take it back "home" as his pet -- against his robot's wishes. Soon after the game jumps forward a few months, the dino has become a highly trained pet of the boy's, and it is now time to explore the world looking for the rest of the survivors. Along the way Robinson will uncover data logs that will help shed light on what happened, and he'll slowly work his way to the crash sight of the main ship.

The Gameplay:

Despite it's name, Robinson the Journey isn't actually much of a journey. Instead you'll explore a few enclosed areas, use a data scanner to scan in different creatures, and command your pet dino to solve simple puzzles. Rather than making your way across this world, the game is more focused on you interacting with what's around you, and just sitting back to enjoy this prehistoric world. There's a jungle filled with different types of creatures that fly and live in the trees, there's a swamp where you get to see massive dinos tower over you, and there's a handful of other areas that offer a different experience as well. Each of these areas house different puzzles and obstacles for you to overcome, but once you figure out the main puzzles they are mainly just there for eye candy.

Rather than working your way through each area, there will be many times where you'll want to stop what you're doing, and just look around. While the game's graphics aren't "amazing" (although they do look better when played on a PS4 Pro), the world is highly detailed, and the sense of scale IS amazing. The feeling is a lot like walking through a dinosaur exhibit in a museum, with a bit of tension that comes from not knowing what is around the next turn. While walking through caves you may feel the need to be more cautious, and while exploring some of these areas there will be a handful of jump scares. Looking down deep dark pits will make you think "I don't want to go down there," and climbing up high could possibly set off some people's fear of heights (shockingly, I personally handled it pretty well). These moments will actually be some of the more memorable parts of the game, with the trek to the final areas of the game being one of the best. Sadly when it's all over though, there's really not much of a reason to return to this unless you want to get the platinum. Climbing up cliffs and exploring can still be fun to come back to, but without any real reason to do so (other than sight seeing) there's a pretty good chance you won't be going back.

The Issues of VR:

As a VR game, Robinson the Journey isn't something I can say for sure that everyone can play. First of all, the game features free movement, and has you climbing up cliff sides by moving your head and looking at rocks that are sticking out. This movement can be both fast and slow (depending on how quickly you do things), and both speeds have the possibility of making one sick. Like with any other VR game, it's sort of like reverse car sickness. Rather than moving forward, you're sitting in one spot while the world comes at you, and your brain may not know how to react. For some, this is a game they wouldn't be able to play for more than a few minutes, but for others this may not bother them at all. This completely depends on the person, but in general the more you play the more you'll get used to VR. Robinson does have some control options to help cut down on VR sickness, such as pie chart rotation, but sometimes even this can have the reverse effect on people. Again, it's up to you to determine if this is a game you can handle, and it is not the game's fault.

The Good and the Bad:

Robinson is a fun little game. Seeing all of the dinosaurs up close was a lot of fun, and the environments you get to explore were pretty unique. Having a pet dino was cool, and using her to solve puzzles was a unique idea as well. The climbing was a really fun mechanic, and the slight fear of the unknown both kept me going and sometimes held me back. In general I really enjoyed my time with this game, and I really loved that dinosaur museum feeling it gave off. It was like having my own personal exhibit right at home, and it was a world I didn't want to leave; however, it didn't last long.

The issue with Robinson the Journey is, like I said before, it's not much of a journey. Rather than traveling across the land, you're just going to a handful of enclosed areas, and then coming right back. You back track pretty often, the puzzles aren't actually that hard, and once you finish each area there isn't anything to bring you back. Yes there are things to find and creatures to scan, but even then it would only take about 5-6 hours to find everything on your own (depending on how good you are at finding things). Personally I spent a little over 10 hours with this game, due to sight seeing and what not, but if you were to rush it is something that can be finished in a few hours at most. Still for what it does offer, it is a really nice game/VR experience.

If you're into "walking simulators" and dinosaurs, it is a game you definitely will want to at least try, but if you're not, then it really isn't the game for you. This game is entirely based around walking and exploring, and if that isn't your thing, it being in VR will most likely not change your mind about it. With that being said, the only real down side to this is when you finish you'll be left wanting more, and that more may never come... It's a fun game, but it's just too short.


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