Review: Loading Human: Chapter 1 (PSVR)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • PlayStation Move Optional (2)
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Title: Loading Human: Chapter 1
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (3.96 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2016
Publisher: Maximum Games
Developer: Untold Games
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Let’s get this out of the way. Loading Human is not the prettiest VR game. And in terms of control schemes, it may annoy some folks. But my experience has been a favorable one. It serves as a glimpse into what a full fledged role-playing game might look like in VR’s future.

But before I get into the details, let’s talk about the locomotion system used to get you around this science fiction narrative. It is absolutely recommended that you use the Move controllers. Not only does the game utilize mechanics that requires the use of both hands, it’s also integral to a movement system that prevents some of the motion sickness associated with first-person controls in VR.

To move forward, you press the Move button. This causes your character to walk in a straight line. You can alter your direction as you progress by turning left or right with your head. Turning your entire body requires you to turn your Move controller left or right and pressing the same button, almost like you’re signaling airplanes. This causes your character to instantly turn in that direction. To crouch you point the controller downward and press a button, and in order to turn 180 degrees, you raise the controller over your shoulder and do the same.

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This sounds terrible, right? But, after spending a few hours with the system, I found it to be innovative, and again, I also found that I could play that amount of time without a semblance of motion sickness. I’m pretty sure this is due to the avoidance of strafing and turning used in other first person adventure games.

Perhaps this is not how all VR games will be controlled in the future, but it is an experiment that will probably lead to some fine-tuning in upcoming adventure games. This isn’t a budget-price game, so I thought it important to describe how you will be controlling your character before moving onto the game itself.

Think of Loading Human as a science fiction novel, one complete with intriguing moments, as well as slow ones, where you will be literally making tea for a pretty girl. As Prometheus, you are to embark on an interstellar quest to retrieve a cure for your father’s condition. But before departing for the great unknown, you must prove that you are ready for the conditions that await you.

… there’s a pretty decent science fiction story here …
So much of the game involves taking on rudimentary tasks like the aforementioned “making tea for a girl”. But some of these tasks serve a purpose, though I will not spoil those purposes here, save but to say that there is a lot more going on here than initially perceived. Some of these tasks truly show how unique playing in a virtual world can be. Prying an elevator door open, for example, is no longer achieved by repeatedly pressing a button.

Instead you actually have to nudge the crowbar between the seams and push and pull until the doors pop open. Little experiences like this might become commonplace some day soon, but since this is my first VR adventure game, I found them to fully engage me in the tasks at hand.

I don’t want to mislead anyone. This game is slow and can certainly weigh on your patience, particularly if the first game you purchased on PlayStation VR was BattleZone or Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. But if you’re like me and enjoy a break from the feverish pace of the more action-oriented titles, then there’s a pretty decent science fiction story here, with you as the main character.

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Visuals:
Not gonna lie, Loading Human is not the most attractive launch game. It’s also not the worst looking. It stands somewhere in between, with some decent environments and semi-attractive character models. And while the environments themselves actually look pretty good, the aliasing is pretty severe and does detract a bit from the immersion.

Furthermore, I know some folks wonder why games like Batman VR and Driveclub show only the hands of your character versus your arms. There is a definite wow factor to seeing your virtual arm in VR. Loading Human does this, and I had to chuckle as I looked to my right and saw my very toned arm as I flexed it for myself.

… It’s not perfect, perhaps far from it …
However, the problems become evident when I shift a little too much and the issues that would not be as obvious with floating hands become more obvious when my arms are bending and contorting in unnatural ways. It’s rarely an issue, since I didn’t spend my time checking out my “guns”, but even when you reach forward to grab something, your arms look funky at times and also break that immersion.

Audio:
Playing a character in VR will often mean that someone else will be speaking for you when an NPC is looking directly at you. My character, Prometheus, self-narrates at times. He doesn’t over act, nor does he under act. I suppose he’s just there, which represents your stream of consciousness. Other voice acting, though there aren’t too many characters, is well done and only seems awkward because of the weaker facial animation.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
This review is going to get me in trouble. I actually enjoyed Loading Human, despite some of its shortcomings. It’s not perfect, perhaps far from it. But it is an enjoyable chapter in a larger, intriguing science fiction story involving you.

The sense of presence is realized in VR, and the locomotion system in the game works for me. Since this is an adventure game, the longer you can play without feeling nauseous the better. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that appreciation of this title will not be shared by all and so recommending it can only be done with a certain level of precaution.

If what I described above is not for you, then you may want to avoid it and wait for something like Robinson: The Journey. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this series.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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