Everyone knows I love PSVR as a platform. Being dropped into a game world and being totally immersed is a great feeling. When it’s done right there is nothing quite like it in gaming, it’s all-encompassing and incredibly tactile. I do love what PlayStation has done with the medium over the past year. I thought PSVR had quite a slow start, small experiences were slowly introducing players to new ways of enjoying video games. Now though, the platform is really hitting its stride and we have a steady flow of fully realized worlds to discover. There have been many amazing titles over the past year or so and I am glad that the platform is flourishing.
Xing: The Land Beyond is a game I have never heard of. I like that though, I’m going in with a clean slate and no preconceptions of what to expect. It’s a VR puzzler that has you controlling various elements and weather systems to solve numerous environmental puzzles. It’s quite a basic concept but I think this is a very unique game on PSVR, I have not played much like it and it was very enjoyable. You walk around various landscapes, manipulating objects to progress further through the games stunning VR world.
The game is split into 4 areas, all of which represent a character’s story. Each of these stories is told through collectable poems scattered through each area. These poems are very touching and poignant, they really made me think about the characters emotions and sentiments. These poems are read out by the character in a very tender way, the voice acting and music really adds to the emotional impact each of these stories has on the player. Normally I am not one for emotional stories but these are done very tastefully and I liked them a lot.
In each of the game’s worlds, you are introduced to a new element or weather system you can manipulate. It could be wind, rain or even a day and night cycle. These elements feed into the puzzles in the game which are exquisitely designed. I am not really a puzzle game fan but these puzzles were superb. Not overly difficult but just difficult enough to test my mental ability and logical awareness. I never once got annoyed, the learning curve and tutorials were just enough to keep things enjoyable and make sure I was progressing at a decent pace.
Speaking of tutorials, there are clues hidden around the levels to help you. Little phrases and sentences which were sometimes hidden and sometimes in plain sight. They give cryptic clues to guide you and sometimes really helped me figure out what I was doing. Some of them were profound, some were straight forward. It all added to the mystery and the whole game felt like a learning experience. I was being shown these people’s heartfelt stories while being shown how to manipulate the world around me. It was a lovely experience, it was slow, deliberate, clever and had some emotional impact on me.
The control scheme, once I got used to it, was superb. It felt perfectly natural after only a short amount of time. Picking up objects, overcoming the puzzles and manoeuvring around the VR space was effortless. I have said before, the control schemes in VR games can make or break the experience. I had no issues here, at no point was I fumbling around or struggling with tracking. It was all effortless, straightforward and very rewarding. If I had to nitpick, and I really am nitpicking, I wish you would walk a tad faster. This is not game breaking at all but it’s the only thing that slightly bothered me. Only slightly though.
Graphically, Xing is top notch. The varied landscapes and vistas are rendered beautifully. Everything was clean, crisp and beautifully colourful. The worlds were a joy to carefully meander through and I was constantly stopping to take in my surroundings, soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the views. Everything is detailed and remarkably clear. There were no issues in this department at all. I often find in VR games that text can get lost sometimes on the low-resolution display the PSVR headset has. I think a combination of a nice font and the size of the text in this game solves this issue completely.
The sound design in this title was very good. The voice acting from the game various characters was excellent. I truly believed everything they were saying and it was given the emotional punch it required. The soundtrack also fits the style of the game to perfection. Slow melodic music tracks only add to the overall emotion running through this games centre.
Xing performed perfectly during my entire playthrough. This is very important in a VR game, both on a technical front and in its control scheme. I had no crashes, zero hitches or game breaking bugs whatsoever. No frame skips, graphical issues or any reportable issues. That paired with a flawless VR implementation meant I was left to just experience this great little puzzle game that, in the end, really surprised me.
I will admit, I did not expect much of a game I had not heard of. This helped with my review though and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I was treated to a heart-warming, perfectly performing VR experience that I would recommend to anyone. Its stories are touching and poignant and its puzzles are well designed while not being overly difficult. The games control scheme is great, never cumbersome and it’s locations beautifully realized. I am not a fan of overly emotional games or puzzle games but this title really engulfed me, it’s a pleasure to play and everyone who has a PSVR headset should play it. I cannot find anything bad to say about it really, and that is a truly rare occurrence.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*