People have always said I spout a lot of hot air, so this is the perfect game for me. A VR puzzler that requires you to blow and suck little ‘Squishies’ through various hazards and guide them to their goal. I have played very few VR puzzlers, especially ones like this that are more physics-based and I was quite looking forward to seeing what it had in store for me. I liked what I saw in the trailer, cute creatures, nice physics, puzzles and getting engrossed in a VR space that I could manipulate with my move controllers.
The Squishies just want to get home and I will gladly help them on their journey, it’s a simple premise but as I soon realized, it’s not going to be all smooth sailing. The game arms you with two fish vacuums, your tools to guide the Squishies home, it sounds ridiculous I know but it works. One button on the move controller sucks air in and one blows it out. You start with a simple tutorial that teaches you how to use the fish instruments that you hold each hand, manipulate the world you’re in and how you finish each level. It’s easy enough and introduces you to the basics of the game. You are required to guide all the Squishies in each level to the goal, collect as many of the crystals on the way you can and if you can find it, the hidden crystal egg. The opening levels are very easy and slowly introduce new gameplay elements and physics-based challenges for you to overcome.
It’s a unique title that would only work in VR, you can zoom in and out using a ‘pinch’ movement with your move controllers similar to mobile phones. You can rotate the gamespace in the same manner as if you were turning an invisible wheel left or right and once you get used to it, these controls work really well and it becomes second nature and really intuitive. The same applies to the fish vacuums, early on I found them quite difficult to use in tricky sections but as I got used to them they became more and more suitable for the job. I started using them in tandem, sucking with one and blowing with the other to guide my Squishy up a ramp or over a tricky jump. It was all so natural and the physics are very well done. I got so used to the physics that I am now setting the Squishy rolling down a hill rotating the world and ending up being perfectly set up for the next section, flying up steep inclines and navigating complicated routes. My skills were improving as I was getting more used to it and it was feeling really reliable, I could predict what my Squishies would do and I was soon zooming though complex sections of the levels and loving it.
In early levels, you mainly just rolled your Squishy to the goal and nothing much got in your way but as things progress, the levels became more elaborate and elaborate. Sometimes you would have multiple Squishies on different islands or at different heights, you would have to activate switches, blow rafts across bodies of water or jump across lava or ice. Sometimes you could even feed your Squishies with food that changed their physique in some way in order for you to overcome a new danger or complex situation. Sometimes switches would need to be blown with one hand while you guided your Squishy over a bridge, a unique thing that only works in VR and had me sprawled out in my living room arms spread like an eagle. It’s the same with manipulating the Squishies in the VR space, there is something amazing about being able to move the little guys around from any angle in a ‘real’ 3D environment. If you blew one too far you could suck it back or put your arm the other side and blow it back. These VR situations still get me in ways that normal games can’t, I felt like I was really controlling these little guys through the levels. I could view them from any angle, from any viewpoint, I was constantly moving, looking around corners and under ledges for secrets.
Talking about lives and dying, I really like that the game has no limit on lives, it really removed the pressure from hard levels and really let me experiment and try new things. Every time one of my Squishies fell off or died I really felt like it was my fault and I learned the lesson for next time. There are regular checkpoints, which means if you navigate through a really tricky part of the level and did you did not have to retrace your steps constantly. Even the harder levels were not bothersome as I knew there was never going to be a game over screen, I could have as many tries as I wanted and I would eventually work out the puzzle or best the tricky platforming sections.
The game is quite pleasing on the eye for a VR title, when you’re zoomed right in the Squishies are very crisp and are rendered very nicely. All the levels are well designed and all look very charming. The enemies, hazards and environments are all detailed and varied. There are nice little touches here and there too, like the expressions on the Squishies faces change depending on what’s happening and what they are doing. The music is serviceable if not forgettable but serves its purpose. The sound effects are very good, the Squishies make funny sounds, squelching and splatting as they bound and roll through to the finish.
Squishies comes with a level editor and some community features. The editor is easy to use but quite a powerful tool that includes all the normal editing features and even some basic behaviour and scripting tools. You can download, rate, view and play other peoples levels in seconds. You can design your own and have them uploaded and ready to play by other players in no time at all. It’s all very nice and adds to the overall package, it works well and is a nice change of pace for when you fancy being a bit creative. I can only imagine what the inventive people playing the game will come up with and I will keep checking back for what monstrosities players have created.
The game performs beautifully and I had zero issues whatsoever with the game in this regard, the framerate was perfect, the moves tracked very nice and I had zero glitches throughout my entire time with the game. There is nothing worse when playing in VR than when things do not work properly, this is when VR can become cumbersome and irritating. Fortunately, this was not the case in this game and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Due to the slower pace of the game paired with infinite lives, Squishies is very relaxing and fun. I never got frustrated and always thought I could complete any level or puzzle when I put my mind to it. Some levels are hard but never overly difficult, when you get used to using the fish vacuums in tandem and get used to the physics and get really good at the game, it’s all very rewarding. By the time you get to the end of the first world, you will be a Squishy manoeuvring god and will be taking all these levels and environments in your stride. Collecting all the crystals and finding the hidden crystal eggs is very addictive and I could not move on from the level until I had found them all. The game reminds me of an old game that only old people will remember, Marble Madness, which had you guiding a ball over ramps and through levels. Of course, this game is light years ahead of it but it did bring back some childhood memories. Anyone who likes puzzle games, physics games, platforming and manipulating 3D environments will love Squishies. It’s a game like no other on PSVR and a fun one to boot.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*