Review: The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets (PS VR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Optional
  • Move Optional (1)
Title: The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets
Format: PSN (1.28 GB)
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Original MSRP: $14.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets is an endearing story about a family’s shared past, told by reliving cherished memories. The memories are represented by miniature 3-D models that are interactive and full of hand-crafted details. In Curious Tale, you must help your grandfather solve the mystery of your beloved pets’ disappearance. Your grandfather narrates the adventure, gently prompting and encouraging your exploration along the way.

The five unique worlds, or memories, of Curious Tale are explored by rotating them around (using either a DualShock 4 or a single Move controller) and simply moving your head to look around. You can grab, push, lift, or otherwise interact with items using a floating reticle that resembles the head of a dandelion. The lack of gameplay tips and the freedom to explore what can be altered in each level is the main draw of the game. It is a lot of fun to simply spin the model world around and peek into every corner, searching for items to pick up or puzzles to solve.

Within each memory you are tasked with finding or releasing the stolen pets and collecting coins. The coins are represented by a faint golden shimmer somewhere on the model. They are usually well-hidden, but once you find them you simply grab that shimmering part of the landscape to secure the coin. The pets are often easier to spot but require that you first solve a puzzle before you can release them. Your grandfather often has a narrative about the pets to share with you. Off to the side of each world there is a small, floating island with a pet sticker board and coin jar to help track your progress.

The puzzles within the game range in difficulty but never feel too daunting. Some involve using items you find throughout the world, like a giant hair dryer that can be used to melt snow, or a wand that can be tapped against a hat to produce magical items. Other puzzles are more traditional and require activating switches or deciphering a code. There is usually an animation that punctuates your puzzle-solving prowess. These often involve miniature models that represent you, your sister, and your grandfather. The whimsical animations are a nice touch. They help tie together the narrative thread and induce a feeling of nostalgia.


Curious Tale certainly falls into the “experience” category of VR games. Even if you acquire every collectible, there is only two or three hours of gameplay. However, for a $14.99 game, that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is somewhat of a negative connotation with VR “experiences”, but they are just that: an experience that you cannot have with a standard game. The immersiveness of leaning towards the model world to have a closer look at it pairs well with the intimate nature of the game’s narrative. It is a brief yet impactful game, but if you are looking for a deep gaming experience or replayability then Curious Tale may not be for you.

Visuals:
The cute and colorful aesthetic of Curious Tale makes exploring each memory a joy. There is nothing technically impressive about the visuals but they fit the more casual feel of the game well. The cartoonish characters, playfully large or small items, and gently rounded terrains all prompt a Disney Pixar-esque warm and fuzzy feeling. The model worlds are all floating in a dreamlike suspension. They are full of opportunities for interaction that you cannot wait to investigate as soon as you lay eyes on them.


Audio:
The music in Curious Tale is provided by Swedish band Wintergatan, made famous by their 2016 viral video featuring the Marble Machine. The light-hearted, folky tunes are a perfect backdrop to this peaceful exploration game.

The sound effects of each world are just as hand-crafted as their visual presentations. Whether a chugging train, crackling fire, or exploding fireworks, the sounds are all dynamic but well-grounded. The narration, told by your grandfather in the game, is fantastic. A warm regard for the past as well as an appreciation for adventure exude from the writing and its delivery.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only and features no online component.

Conclusion:
It is a delight to comb over every square inch of Curious Tale‘s miniature model representations of memories shared between loved ones. The game is brief and casual but there is beauty in its simplicity. The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets is a bite-sized game that leaves an overachieving impact thanks to the immersiveness of its VR presentation.

Score:
8.0

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

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