Out of all the PSVR launch games, Loading Human: Chapter 1 looked more like a story driven game than most, and by that I mean in comparison to the assortment of party game titles, or snippets of games that foretell of what could be as the technology develops. Loading Human attempts to set it’s sights a little higher than that, and very nearly pulls it off.
The premise is a familiar one in gaming terms. Playing as Prometheus, you find yourself alone on a research base, accompanied only by Lucy, an AI, who, through your initial interactions, fills you in on the story. This often used exposition dump tells you that you are a scientist recruited by your father to hunt out an energy source to power a machine of his own invention. All of this pretty much hits you in the first couple of minutes of play, and a lot of the time I was too busy trying to work out what to do or where to go next than keeping tabs on what conversation or inner monologue I was having to fill in the blanks on the story. This is an often used technique in video games where conversation is used to fill in the plot points, but by not having a body to focus on for clues as to when they were going to speak next meant that a lot of what was said I missed.
Besides that I was equally distracted by the level of detail the game world employed and the amount of objects that I was able to pick up and interact with, which meant curiosity over what I could pick up overrode my curiosity regarding the plot. This becomes the main problem with Loading Human, in that the storyline is too similar to what we’ve seen before, and this sense of de ja vu never quite dissipates, preventing all the threads that make Loading Human interesting never quite knitting together in the way they should.
With that in mind the game itself does have a decent amount of immersion to it, and it is this, not the plot, that makes the game interesting and fun to play – a huge amount of objects can be picked up and interacted with, or moved, or smashed, from picking up records that litter the floor and putting them on the gramophone in the corner which instantly changes the music being played, to interacting with buttons and keypads, typing by using one index finger at a time in order to open doors or operate a computer, and half the joy is walking around and seeing what else can be picked up and moved around.
What really stands out when playing Loading Human in comparison to the other VR titles I have encountered so far is the control scheme offered when using the PlayStation Move controllers. Foregoing the usual teleport or controller as a means to move around, Loading Human uses the Move controllers in a slightly unusual way, by having you essentially point in the direction you want to move with one Move controller and turning by either turning your head or pointing with the other controller. This is a slightly jarring experience, and doesn’t quite work as well as one would want – bumping into objects of hitting doorways at an off angle become the norm, while the fluid movement of walking while sitting still has a nauseating effect, well on me anyway. I have read all about the motion sickness VR can cause, and am more than willing to admit that I am still getting my sea legs when it comes to VR, but moving in this way meant that I could only really play Loading Human for half an hour at a time before needing to give myself a rest to get my stomach to settle down again, and this is a pain, especially when wanting to get truly immersed by the experience Loading Human offers as it doesn’t really work in 30 or so minute chunks.
Loading Human: Chapter 1 is an interesting glimpse into story telling VR games. A few missteps (literal as well as figurative) and an overly familiar plot don’t detract from what is an interesting and fun game to play, even if I were only able to play it for small chunks of time.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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