Go web! Fly! Up, up, and away web!
There is a scene in the Spider-Man movie where Peter Parker is discovering his powers and is learning to web sling. He’s clumsy and unsteady with his newfound ability. This is exactly how you’ll feel in the first twenty minutes or so in Windlands, after picking up your grappling hooks, but after this period of unsteadiness you’ll feel like a fully fledged version of everyone’s favourite neighbourhood superhero. You’ll be leaping great distances and waiting until the very last moment to fire your grappling hooks so that you can gain maximum momentum which will see you soaring through the sky and across the landscape with exhilarating ease.
Windlands, from Psytec Games, is a first person grappling hook exploration game for the PlayStation VR. At the start you are briefly told the story of an ancient world, the Windlands, that was created by nine crystals and protected by mighty titans. Now this fallen civilisation lays in ruins and it’s down to you to become it’s latest guardian. To do this you must grab your grappling hooks, explore the ruins and find the crystals so that you can restore the Windlands to it’s former glory.
Exploring in Windlands is easy thanks to the games simplistic controls. Using DualShock 4 you move and strafe with the left stick, turn with the right stick, jump (a rather big floating jump) with cross and respawn at your last checkpoint with triangle. You can extend and retract the grappling rope with the square and circle but I found I didn’t need to use them. All the aiming in the game is handled by the wonders of VR, you move your head to look around the virtual world and this in turn allows you to move the white dot that is centralised on the display. This dot is used to aim where you will fire the grappling hooks which is done by the right and left trigger buttons.
The games three different areas: Jungle, City and Sky. While these areas may look pretty alike there is enough variation in them to make them feel different. The first area, the Jungle, is where you begin your adventure in earnest. It has plenty of grappling points to help you find your feet and hone your swinging skills. Once you feel ready to go looking for the crystals you find that the game has multiple paths to them which really encourages exploration. If you find yourself distracted by this zen-like exploration you might lose your way and forget where you are going. If this happens you just need to stop and take a look around, you’ll always be able to locate giant beacons of light which indicates the locations of the crystals.
Each of these main areas also have a playground and a challenge to unlock if you collect the appropriate crystals. These are skill based Time Trials and Speed Run sections which encourage you play the game in a different manner. Here you must race to the end goal as quick as possible and unleash your fastest time on the global leaderboards.
I didn’t feel any nausea or motion sickness at all while playing Windlands but if you find yourself suffering at any point there’s a lot of options to help prevent it. These include putting you in a transparent cage, disabling strafing and toggling the turning. It is worth tinkering with these settings until you find one that alleviates the discomfort.
If you plan on mastering the art of swinging and obtaining the platinum on Windlands you will need to complete the game three times. This is because the trophies for completing on the different difficulties don’t stack. Overall the trophies standing in the way of your shiny new platinum are fairly straightforward but the ones for beating the times in the challenges and playgrounds will push you to your limits.
Windlands is an excellent experience, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you get a feel for swinging with your headset on. Thanks to the colourful visuals and the soothing soundtrack you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the virtual world that Psytec Games have created, so much so that you’ll be physically rocking backwards and forwards trying gain momentum to extend your swing. This is not a Spider-Man game but you’ll definitely feel like Peter Parker in this parkour game.
WeArePSVR Score – 8/10