We went hands-on with The Last Worker, a cool new game for PSVR 2
Here's what happened when we trekked across London to try the new game from Oiffy and Wolf & Wood.
Some invitations are just too good to ignore. How about a chance to try out the PSVR 2 headset, a few weeks before its much-hyped launch to the world? That's one that we had to accept.
When RadioTimes.com arrived at the offices of a London-based indie called Oiffy, we were greeted by developer and filmmaker Jörg Tittel, who is clearly a lover of all-things gaming tech.
With a PlayStation 5 console at his desk, a Playdate handheld console on his coffee table (it was literally sitting on a miniature sofa in pride of place) and an Analogue Pocket hiding in his rucksack, Tittel's office immediately felt like an Aladdin's cave of interactive entertainment.
Tittel was full of enthusiasm for his buzzy VR game The Last Worker and its Playdate companion Skew, both of which are launching in 2023. First we tried Skew on the Playdate, and it was addictively fun, using the console's unique crank controller to guide a tiny flying robot around various obstacles. Although we couldn't get close to Tittel's high scores, we still had a great time and could've sat there for hours entranced by the beautiful simplicity of it all.
The main attraction, though, was the PlayStation VR 2 headset. And we were somewhat alarmed to look around the office and realise that the highly-touted headwear was nowhere to be seen. That's when Tittel opened up a secret compartment (OK, it was just a cupboard) and pulled out an all-white box, before carefully sliding the lid off and lifting out the precious cargo from within.
It was love at first sight, or at least, it was coveting of another man's possessions at first sight. There's no denying that the PSVR 2 looks a lot cleaner, smoother and less clunky than 2016's original PlayStation VR headset. The new one looks simpler, more angular and dare we say it... sexier. It looks modern, futuristic even, and you'll immediately notice the little cameras on the front (which allow you to see your surroundings whenever you want, without having to remove the headset).
The anticipation was becoming too much to bear at this point, and luckily it wasn't long before Tittel helped us into the headset. Our immediate first impression was that the PSVR 2 is much comfier than its predecessor and most other VR headsets that we've tried out over the years, with a generous amount of cushioning around the eyes. It only took a couple of moments to adjust the strap and the image sharpness in such a way that made the on-screen display look nice and clear, which isn't always easy as a glasses wearer.
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Tittel slid each of the 'Sense' controllers into our hands, and they immediately felt less cumbersome than the 'Move' controllers that the previous generation depended on. The circular design makes it feel like you're never likely to drop them, and there is the option of a wrist strap to double down on that feeling of security.
As is the case with any variation on the basics of a VR controller, it does take a while to get used to the button layout with these Sense controllers. Although the controllers felt snug and safe in our hands, we did misfire quite a lot to start with, in terms of hitting the right buttons at the right time. As well as the usual analogue sticks, D-pad and those traditional PlayStation buttons (X, Square, Triangle, Circle, Options, Share, L1, L2, R1, R2), there is also a 'Grip' button on the rear that is usually used for picking things up in VR games.
Some familiar elements remain from the previous generation of PSVR. For example, holding down the options button will centralise your display, allowing you to put the heart of the action right in front of your eyes. And with that piece of admin done (the whole setup only took a minute, helped by the fact this headset only needs one cable to connect), it was time to actually open a game and get started with the business of playing it.
The PSVR 2 game we trudged across London to see is called The Last Worker, which was developed by Oify and another company called Wolf & Wood. It has a really fun premise. You play as the final human employee at a warehouse operated by the Jüngle Corporation, a clear allegory of an Amazon fulfilment centre.
The game kicks off with the player-character erroneously being sent through the new-employee orientation, even though he's worked here for years. This is quite a meta joke about video game tutorials, in keeping with the game's coolly sarcastic tone, but it serves the purpose of teaching you the core controls nonetheless.
This is a game where you'll have to do a fair amount of multitasking - as your character travels around in a floating vehicle, he uses a handheld device to move parcels around. You can take a look at the game in action below!
Things are clearly going wrong in this workplace, as your robot companion is glitching like there's no tomorrow and other machines seem hell-bent on getting in your way. This results in a fun mix of gameplay elements, from multidimensional puzzle solving to sequences of tense, stealthy sneakiness.
Another thing that impresses early on in the visual style, which was developed in collaboration with Mick McMahon, a comic book artist best known for his work on 2000 AD and Judge Dredd.
That primary-coloured style translates well into the interactive realm, helping The Last Worker to avoid a common pitfall – when a VR game tries to look photoreal, the result can often veer into the uncanny valley, which is not a problem here at all.
An impressive voice cast, including none other than Jason Isaacs (hello!), and the game's memorable musical score, also feed into the creative stew to make this feel like a well-made game that it's worth keeping an eye on.
All things considered, we had a really great time trying out The Last Worker on PSVR 2. We shall follow the launch of both products, and the Playdate spin-off Skew, with great interest. Watch this space!
Wolf & Wood and Oiffy's The Last Worker is launching in 'early 2023' along with Skew. The PSVR 2 headset releases on 22nd February. As well as PS5, The Last Worker will also be available on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
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