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Vacation Simulator VR Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Vacation Simulator is Owlchemy Lab's follow-up to their hit VR title Job Simulator. It serves as more of a spin-off than a direct sequel, opting for a less linear experience. The main appeal of Job Simulator was goofing off with a variety of virtual knickknacks and seeing how robots would react to, say, having a firework shot in their face. The other area where a lot of humor was derived was taking orders from customers and trying to give them the absolute worst service possible while still technically completing the task. For example, if a robot asked for a tire change in the garage environment, you might’ve chosen to additionally paint the car pink and put gaudy decorations all over it, so that he's charged more on his bill and drives away in a silly-looking car.

A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW

This player-driven humor hasn't carried over into Vacation Simulator. The only real equivalent is in the forest environment, where you’re tasked with painting pictures and giving them to robots scattered around so they can hang them on their walls. Naturally, since I have the humor of a 13-year-old, I painted penises and delighted in the fact that the robots called me a talented artist when I gave them my “artwork.” The only other element of player-driven creativity is in the cooking stations. Each of the three environments (a beach, a forest, and a snowy mountain) has a cooking station where you can cook up orders for different robots. Occasionally, an order will be open-ended enough for you to mix in disgusting ingredients and still receive a passing grade, but most of the orders are completely straightforward and allow for zero creativity. The fun of these cooking stations is in forgoing the orders altogether and trying to see what weird and disgusting edible abominations you can come up with.  

OPEN AND SHUT WORLD

Speaking of this linear gameplay approach, Vacation Simulator is seemingly open-ended, but not in ways that really matter. While you are free to visit any environment at any time and engage in whatever activity you feel like, once you pick an activity, you are essentially teleported to a single location to focus on that sole activity. It's more like experiencing a series of mini-game-based vignettes. Examples of these include throwing balls past a robot goalie, building sandcastles, finding fireflies, sculpting ice structures, etc. Each “activity” has no more depth than anything you'd find in a free VR tech demo, and they quickly wear out their welcome.

GOALS

In addition to the rather straightforward mini-games, there are tasks where you collect items, store them in your backpack, and deliver them to NPCs across the three different vacation destinations. These tasks also felt less like fun diversions, and more like mentally checking off items on a list. There is a point to completing these mini-games and side tasks, however: each time you do, you receive a digital “memory” as a reward. Collecting five memories in each location unlocks additional areas for the respective locales. As gaining five memories is incredibly easy to do, it takes little time to see all that's on offer in Vacation Simulator.

WHY LOCATION IS IMPORTANT

Humor was a real selling point for Job Simulator, and while it was never gut-bustingly funny, it was at least fairly clever, such as the robots' literal interpretation of what “cooking the books” meant in the office environment. I feel that cleverness hasn't returned this time around, and while comedy is subjective, I just can't shake the feeling that something has been lost in translation with this title. Vacation Simulator rarely mines jokes from robots misunderstanding human conventions and the English language, and I think that's just a product of where the title is set. Workplace environments employ all sorts of jargon that have plenty of potential to be parodied and mined for comedy. Vacations have no equivalent. People talk on vacations the same way they talk everywhere else. As such, Owlchemy Labs has far less to work with in terms of comedy material.

4

The Verdict: Flawed

Where Vacation Simulator shines is in its high amount of polish, in its colorful and appealing art style, and in the instances where it allows the player to have some wacky, player-driven fun. But overall I can't help but feel that by choosing to create a more traditional “game” it's lost what made Job Simulator such an appealing experience. If this came out when VR was brand new, the simplistic nature of these collections of mini-games would be more forgivable, but at this point, most consumers are looking for deeper or more engaging experiences.

See About Us to learn how we score

Caleb Bailey
Written by
Monday, 29 April 2019 04:49
Published in Strategy

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Caleb is a game reviewer who is way more of a nostalgic curmudgeon than any 25 year old has any right to be. He enjoys shooters, open world games and is a huge believer in virtual reality's potential. His guilty pleasure movie of choice is The Neverending Story which he still shamefully watches because it was his childhood favorite. He hopes to one day ride Falkor the Luckdragon in VR because that is what he means when he says virtual reality has potential.

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