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Review

Written by Rachel Mangan | Edited by John Gerritzen

In an oddly beautiful mix of futuristic, neon technology and pixel art, VirtuaVerse will immediately strike you with its vivid colors and dark world. As a point and click, it has a satisfyingly high amount of interactable objects in every on-screen environment, offering flavor text and lore that builds the world quickly. The creators don’t bother drowning you in exposition to understand their tech-saturated society; they simply expose you to it until you feel in tune with everything around you. It’s a wonderful way to get the player immersed, and makes for a fun dive into the story.

A Puzzle with No Corners

Unfortunately, you’ll be poking around the environment a bit more than you want to while feverishly attempting to find out what the heck you’re supposed to do.

The point and click genre has two unofficial camps games typically fall under: logical and ridiculous. Under the logical category, you’re offered breadcrumbs as to how you might solve a future puzzle, with a rewarding sensation of connecting the dots using common sense to test and succeed at whatever task the game asks of you. In the ridiculous camp, you have the famous puzzle where a rubber duck, breadcrumbs, and apartment complex’s water pressure are used to get a key off a subway track. Could any normal person naturally come to that solution? Not likely. Instead, it takes prodding everything on screen with everything you have until something happens. VirtuaVerse isn’t quite so far-fetched, but it certainly plays against the average player’s intuition. There are times when you’ll have the required tool, say a crowbar, but the game will make up a reason why the door you have to go through is resistant to crowbars. Feeling clever, you may go buy the Door Destroyer from the store only to have the game tell you it isn’t designed for the particular door you want to get through. No, you have to rabbit-hole down seemingly random solutions. Some require browsing through areas designed to look like nothing but flavor text fodder until you stumble across the right solution.

Can the convoluted steps towards success be interesting? Sure. Are they satisfying? It’ll be hard to remember after beating your head against a wall trying to think of the next step.

A Protagonist You Learn to Hate

Our leading man starts with one goal: find his girlfriend. Why? Because she’s not at his place! It’s a bit of a weak start, but players are great at suspending disbelief in order to get an adventure going. We aren’t given much backstory about their relationship, only assurance from our edgy cyber-nerd who’s too good for a consistent job or retail technology that she needs to be found as soon as possible. And so, we dust off his empty to-do list and run around making things worse for everyone we know, including his girlfriend, on the quest to track her down.

Aside from becoming a local nuisance, blackmailing and food-poisoning his way towards a fleeing girlfriend, he also fails to help you, the player, at otherwise opportune times. Some point and click protagonists have the insight to offer players direction. Click a locked door, and they’ll inform you that perhaps there’s a hidden key that could get you through. In VirtuaVerse, you’re more likely to get misdirected by his vague reactions if they’re extensive enough to mean anything at all. More often than not, he’ll just remind you how sheep-like the rest of society is while he lives off his girlfriend’s music career. The farther you get, the more you understand why she may have left him.

Equip Your AVR Headset and Enjoy the Sights

Despite the bottleneck puzzles, lack of logical progression, and major attitude from the main character, you’re going to enjoy the sights and sounds of this amazingly aesthetic game. Gritty punk soundtracks and stunning background art paint every pixel on screen, creating an environment draped in dingy future feels. It may have frustrating moments, but the game itself operates beautifully. Clean transitions via cool motorcycle cut scenes, quick and easy HUD navigation, and a thoroughly interactable world give a deep scratch to any point and click fan’s itch. The destination may lack thrills, but the ride to get there has a view that’s worth the let down.

6

The Verdict: Good

What VirtuaVerse lacks in satisfying puzzle solving, it makes up for with a crisp dive into a living, breathing dystopian underworld you won’t soon forget.

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