Developer / Publisher – Frost Earth Studio / Oxygene Media
Price – US 24.99 / EU €24.99 / UK £19.99 / AU $30.95
Release date – October 23rd, 2018
Control Method – DS4, 2 x Move
Pro Enhanced – No
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
It’s time for an experience!!! Mind Labyrinth describes itself as “an emotional journey through your alternative world in dream-like environments and atmospheres” which is an accurate description as any but doesn’t fully explain what this game/experience is all about. This is designed to be a calming, relaxing almost meditative experience where you take in and explore real-life and fantastical surroundings while discovering quotes from philosophers and other historical figures, all of which are geared toward the greatness and kindness in all of us.
Utilizing DS4 or Move controllers, you navigate through one of ten settings, interacting with 1 or 2 objects in each realm, while discovering those not-so hidden messages and opportunities. I preferred the Moves over the DS4, but either method is quite clunky and does hamper the overall experience. Teleport is on by default, though it can be turned off allowing for free walking, but the only turn option, regardless of the controller, is 45 degree click-turning which just stinks. The tutorial is a laughably forgettable option which consists of 13 pages of text explaining the games mechanics which is a lot to ask for in VR as viewing the text in a headset is a bit of a pain. You start each game in a hub with portals around you that will take you to that chosen world. Once in a world you can look for symbols indicating quotes, which you need to shoot with you controller by charging up a blast, aiming and then hitting that symbol. There are typically 1 or 2 items in each realm that you can pick up and may be needed to activate a new visual treat or unlock a hidden area, and it was very easy to figure out where these items were to be used. There is no challenge, if you stumble across that item, which is pretty obvious, grab it carry it around until you trigger something. Each stage has an opportunity that pops up randomly, which as far as I can tell just places a sphere somewhere in the level that you need to activate. Once you collect all the spheres, you unlock a new ‘heavenly’ stage.
Given the nature of this experience, you would hope that the visuals made for a soothing and immersive journey, and for the most part I would say they do that. The darker stages pop a lot more then the lighter ones with some great use of reflective surfaces and just an overall better polish. The stages that take place in the daylight, specifically the green forested level, look bad, with incredibly low-resolution textures and terrible lighting effects that make everything look very drab. Thankfully, most of the stages look darker and more fantastic and while each stage is relatively small, the overall variety and space to explore still did enough for me to walk away from this thinking it looked alright. Whether it’s the fairie garden, or a floating island or an Asian inspired village in a large pool of water, there are some fantastic visuals which are great to behold in VR.
Accompanying the visuals are some very melodic tunes, reminding me of what you would hear at a spa. You can adjust the volume to your liking, even muting it should you want your own tracks played, but for those that are interested, I urge you to play with the music on. The music fits wonderfully with the game and is even thematically matched to each stage though you can also change tracks at any time, tailoring this experience to your wants and needs.
Like many experiences, this just won’t be for everybody. There are some light gaming elements in here, but the emphasis is on relaxing, unwinding and introspective. Each stage has a special shelter, which is just a smaller version of that world, walled in with the developers urging you to use these spots for meditation. If this at all sound appealing to you, then I bet you’ll like what’s offered up here, but if nothing I have said so far interests you, I doubt playing will change your mind. As I said, the controls are incredibly clunky and at the very least, smooth turning needs to be added to maximize immersion. Walking is assigned to the Move button on 1 controller, with each controller turning you left or right meaning if you want to turn right while walking, you are going to have to stop walking to hit that button. Given the nature of this experience, the controls aren’t game breaking, but I never felt comfortable with the default scheme and there is no option to change it up.
Mind Labyrinth is a niche title to be sure and while I don’t think this will appeal to the broader PSVR audience, those who like visual experiences like The Grand Museum or Perfect will probably eat this up too. Some of the visuals are very striking as are some of the more fantastic themes presented. Add in the light gaming elements including, exploration, shooting those symbols, and uncovering hidden areas and there is a lot to get through, provided you want to in the first place.
What would I pay? There is more then enough content in Mind Labyrinth to justify the price…for the right person. You could spend hours in here just admiring the sights and sounds of each environment and reflecting on the philosophical quotes. With that said, I’m not that kind of guy. For me personally, while I did enjoy my time in Mind Labyrinth, it’s not a title I would come back as what it offers does not align with what I’m looking for or need in my life currently. Still, for those looking for a chill, mellow VR experience, this is that and a little more.
Frost Earth Studio provided The VR Grid with a code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!.