I’m scared of heights. Resident Evil 7 was a creepy game, with its mold monsters and freaky family, but it did nothing to me like standing atop a tall building, with howling winds threatening to push me to toward my end. Because of this particular fear of mine, Windlands had me sweating more than freshman gym class.
Quick Notes Genre: Platforming Controller: Dual Shock (recommended), Moves Price:$24.99 Game Length: 6 hours PlayPSVR Score: 8.0
Windlands had me exploring and traversing across a variety of floating islands using a pair of grappling hooks to help me make my momentous way. Let it be said here, early on, that this game is not for the weak of stomach. In Windlands, I could use my grappling hook to latch on to any of the appropriately textured surfaces, like the leafy tops of tall trees, in order to bring myself along. Sometimes I’d find myself swinging like the Bionic-Commando, and other times I’d find myself yanking myself along like Mr. Fantastic of “Fantastic Four” fame. It was exciting when it worked like I expected, and once I got the hang of the controls, the game rewarded me with a sense of accomplishment as I leapt across tree-tops clearing huge swathes of the map below me in a few swinging bounds.
But it’s not just the fact that the worlds are sprawling, tall, and huge for a VR game that makes Windlands exhilarating. It’s that small touches were smartly included that made things feel a bit more precarious than they actually were. Collectibles are visible throughout the levels that taunt you in hard to reach places, and your dual-equipped grappling hooks endow a sense of obligation to obtain these items. However, many times, when getting close to these collectible wooden-planks, I’d find myself second guessing my footing. As their locations got higher and higher, I’d begin to hear the wind around me pick up, as if I were on a skyscraper leaning over a safety rail. And the audio cue for the collectibles is a creaking wood sound, which only exacerbated the anxiety, filling me with a sense that the footing I was carefully utilizing was not as secure as I’d like to believe. But no trees ever cracked beneath my weight, thank goodness. However, there were moments of giant automatons moving about the environment I was traversing, and the sense of scale provided another source of excitement to the adventure.
But sometimes, the excitement would lead to frustration. Trying to use the Move controls often resulted in mistimed or miscalculated jumps due to the controllers lack of an analog stick. However, if one were willing to trade the Spider-Man feeling of dual wielding webs, the dual shock controller is more than a capable replacement for the Moves. The ready use of the analog sticks and buttons for jumping allow for a higher degree of precision in the movements that will ultimately get you to your goals. There were times when the controls felt like they failed me, namely when I found myself stuck under the canopy of a tree desperately clawing at more of the top of it, pixel by pixel. But often it was the result of my own misguided approach to an environment
While at its heart, Windlands is only a collect-a-thon platformer with only a handful of levels, it succeeds in a very difficult task of granting the powers of Spider-Man to a player in VR without making the traversal feel trivial. If you have the stomach for it, and the patience to grow accustomed to the mechanics and controls, then an exciting adventure of trapezing and swinging awaits you.
PlayPSVR Rating: 8.0 out of 10.