PSVR 2 and PS5 need more hybrid games like Humanity
In Humanity you control crowds of mindless people with seamless transitions from 2D to VR on PS VR 2. Why aren't there more PS5 hybrid games?
I love it when an elegant concept pans out. Like the PS5 game Humanity from Rez Infinite creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. The game switches from 2D to VR in the main menu. Humanity comes out next month for Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Playstation VR 2, Steam, and SteamVR, but I got a sneak peek at a preview version.
In the game, crowds of humans run unflinchingly toward death like lemmings. Only a Shiba Inu dog can save them from the abyss. This simple principle makes for a flexible title playable both on-screen and in VR.
PS5 and PSVR 2 in harmony
Playing with a controller as the four-legged hero, I run and hop over minimalist glowing platforms and place small signposts in the world. These guide the masses streaming out of the portals around many corners to their destination or let them jump over obstacles. Unlockable abilities, switches, and hard-to-reach gold figures provide additional motivation.
There is no shortage of surreal moments in the tricky levels. When hundreds of passersby are climbing at the same time, hovering over fans, or diving through pools of water, there are plenty of moments for bizarre snapshots. It feels especially strange when I "dive" into the crowd with my doggie to swim to the other end of the crowd. Later, even guns and rolling boulders come into play.
The most fascinating thing about this madness is that it is clearly implemented. The diorama perspective is perfect for switching between TV mode and virtual reality.
The colorful hustle and bustle can be viewed on a TV as if through a window. It's only with the VR headset that everything around me comes to life while I'm enthroned in the middle of the platforms. Fans of Moss or Ghost Giant know the contemplative feeling of a birds-eye view that makes you feel almost like a god.
I wonder why more developers don't go for this relaxed concept and equip their games with a hybrid mode. At least in this case, the changes to the TV mode are limited, since the old PS VR can also be operated with its Dualshock controls.
VR without motion controls?
This traditionalism also has its downsides. Without motion controls, I can't move blocks on my own, nudge characters, or otherwise interact in the world. The PSVR 2 controllers are not visible in the game world.
Not even the level editor can be launched in VR. At least, not in the preview version we played. This feels like a real omission, especially considering the many puzzle games made for VR!
And yet, I enjoy diving into Tetsuya Mizuguchi's new dream world. Maybe it's the pleasant change of just sitting on the sofa again, relaxed, even though I'm playing in VR.
My arms are resting comfortably on the cushions, and yet I feel like I'm in the middle of these wondrous puzzles. And that's without a drop of sweat under the plastic cushion of the PS VR 2 - a real rarity!
Mizuguchi's stylish design and experimental synth sounds also help to immerse me in the strange world. Here's hoping that more hybrid games for PS5 and PS VR 2 follow. At the very least, more relaxed concepts would be a nice addition to the predominantly motion-intensive game catalog.
Flexible puzzles with VR mode
early PSVR 2 rumors assumed that such hybrid titles would be much easier to make on the PS5 and that Sony would become more active in this direction after its studio acquisitions.
At least developer Firesprite (Horizon Call of the Mountain) seems prepared for this. The studio has already gained a lot of experience in adapting to the TV with its VR roguelite action game The Persistence.
Humanity will be released on May 16 for PS4, PS5, and Steam, each with VR support and a traditional flat mode. In the PSN Store, it will be included in PlayStation Plus (Extra and Premium) from launch.