Review: Straylight is like a VR Spiderman in space
Straylight proves how well rope swinging works in VR. Find out if your stomach and long-term motivation are up to the task.
Life is hard: This is the slogan developer Dr. Bloc uses to promote his tricky VR platformer Straylight for Meta Quest, SteamVR and Playstation VR. And he’s not wrong. After about an hour with Quest 2, I had sweaty palms, tennis elbow, and was swearing like a madman.
Straylight’s space looks so inviting as I pull myself through the obstacles with glowing ropes. As a fan of colorful, glowing arcade games like Rez Infinite, the art design immediately caught my attention. The rope mechanic is perfect for virtual reality and works really well. However, the tricky placement of the obstacles is a real challenge.
Straylight: Review in a nutshell
Straylight’s swinging mechanics are made for VR. Although the game is compact and short, the tricky arcade courses are addictive.
Tested on: Quest 2
You will like Straylight if …
- you like innovative, physical VR controls,
- you have a penchant for colorful, glowing arcade games,
- and you like to get stuck into tricky races with leaderboards.
Straylight is probably not for you if …
- you are looking for full-length games with a lot of scope,
- you detest minimalistic graphics,
- and you play VR mostly sitting without much movement.
Swing, Soar, Die, Repeat!
Straylight’s gameplay mechanics are as simple as the game’s bright neon design. Motion controls are very intuitive. I aim my glove harpoon at glowing anchor points to trigger a glowing rope. A smooth pulling motion then flings me in the opposite direction. If I get too fast, I slow down. Or I pull myself back onto the path at other points.
Such course corrections are also necessary on the way through pulsating lava planets and other obstacles. Otherwise I won’t reach the checkpoints, bonus blocks or various ghosts, for example from my last best performance. There is also a slight gravity in Straylight’s space. If I get off course, it will pull me down mercilessly.
An added incentive is the passive-aggressive off-screen narrator. He gets increasingly angry when I ignore his disdainful comments and don’t die often enough: “Just touch the death orbs, they look friendly!”
After a short period of familiarization, the mechanics became second nature to me, and I went into a frenzy of racing fun, collisions, and plunges into the depths. Even the synth-pop soundtrack gets excessive. Wild solos on the “space organ” reminded me of jazz all-rounder and comedian Helge Schneider. Check him out if you don’t know him, he’s pretty crazy.
Unlike Windlands, my stomach tolerated the swinging very well, even while standing and despite the lack of comfort options. Maybe it’s because I’m pulling myself forward with my own arm on the rope. On other swing adventures, such as the Yupiter Grade 2, there are more curved trajectories when I’m hanging from the rope. I quickly get a queasy feeling in those moments.
Available on Steam, Playstation, and AppLab
Straylight’s only major drawback is its lack of content. The full version on Steam only offers about eleven easy and eleven hardcore levels. At a price of around $20, the VR game should still provide a pleasant challenge for a few hours. Bonuses include leaderboards sorted by friends and a relaxed “Zen mode” with no deadly obstacles.
The full version is the title is live on AppLab for $20.
You can buy Straylight here:
|Meta Quest (1, 2, Pro)||Quest Store (AppLab)||$20|
|PC VR headset, Meta Quest (2) via Air(Link)||Steam||$20|
|Playstation VR||PSN Store||$20|
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