Developer / Publisher – Vertical Robot
Price – US $29.99 / EU €29.99 / UK £24.99 / AU $44.95
Release date – December 07, 2018
Control Method – Motion Controllers
Pro Patch – Yes
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PSVR/PS4 Pro
Red Matter is a game unto itself with you being tasked with investigating a space station on a moon orbiting an unknown planet. Something has gone awry and it’s up to you, as an enemy spy, to get in maybe find out what happened and get the heck out. At first glance it may look like a shooter, but Red Matter is in fact a first-person puzzler with you traversing the station trying to unlock the path to the next goal.
Motion controls are your only option here and thanks to some comfort options, you can you can walk or teleport around the base. As of this review you can only click-turn which is unfortunate though the the developers have stated that a smooth turning option is on the horizon, possibly by the games North American launch. This controls like a typical FPS with each arm equipped with a multi-tool. The 2 tools you will use the most are the grabber arms that allow you grasp objects, levers and buttons and the other is your information tablet, which when pointed at something will give a brief description of what it is, the 3rd is a flashlight which I only used a few times throughout the game. Everything in the station is in Russian so to translate these messages you simply need to point the laser attached to your scanner thingy and ‘BOOM!’ instant translation. The bulk of the game takes place inside that seemingly abandoned station with you traversing its halls and corridors. The core of this game is puzzle solving with each new room you enter offering some type of dilemma that you need to solve or bypass. A lot of these puzzles involve levers, buttons and circuit systems but all them require you to pay attention. Clues may be written on a wall or note or may just be indicated by a blinking light so no matter where you are, you need to be aware of your surroundings.
I’ll get back to the puzzles, but I think special praise needs to be given on the visual side of things here. Red Matter is one of the best-looking games to grace our headsets. Unlike many games which take place in the same setting for most of the game, Red Matter manages to keep the setting fresh from beginning all the way to the end. The stages are littered with 50’s style details giving this station a wonderful sense of authenticity and mystery as you investigate every corner. Rooms contain tons of items from the occupants of the station and whether you’re in the crew quarters, security station of reactor station, all of these settings completely immerse you in the world. Special note should be taken on the lighting effects which, as far as PSVR games go, are the best use of lighting and reflections I have ever seen in a game. Whenever you scan something with your little device, it locks on via laser, which often times is reflected on a nearby surface and looks absolutely amazing. When the light is reflected off whatever surface it’s hitting, you can see the scratches, divots and imperfections in that reflected material doing absolute wonders for immersion. In fact, even getting close to any surface reveals a level of detail I can’t recall ever seeing before in VR. I could gush all day about the look of this game, but take my word for it when I say, you’ll be impressed.
Sound design is also very good with a fully acted out campaign giving us a complicated but contained narrative that had me feeling like I was the main character in a surreal movie. You are in near constant contact with your supervisor who guides you throughout the station and updates your objectives. There is some music in here as well, though it’s atmospheric, often disappearing in the background, but still adding to the mood of the situation you may have found yourself in.
What Red Matter does right, besides the stellar presentation, is the puzzles. While a couple base mechanics do repeat themselves, each puzzle is inherently different from the last making each one not only feel fresh, but tasks you with really taking in your surroundings, giving you an appreciation not just for the game, but the seamless way many of these puzzles just naturally fit with the world you are in. The whole game feels organic and while maybe one or 2 puzzles do feel slightly contrived, for the most part they are great, putting this in the same league as Transpose, Statik and I Expect You to Die as being the one of the most fun and engaging puzzlers only available in VR. My only real issue with the game is the movement system in place which is…slow. Even teleporting consists of a jump in next to zero gravity making the pace at which you move, regardless of whether you walk or jump, just seem too plodding. Hitting stairs also seems to trip up smooth movement making it even slower and I ended up defaulting to the jump movement whenever I saw I had to navigate up stairs. In all honesty though, it’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things as it barely impacted my enjoyment of the game.
Red Matter took me around 3 hours to beat and I did miss 1 or 2 items to “complete” the game, though looking for those won’t take too much longer to find. The story is a closed one, which I also appreciated as it was nice to just have a beginning, middle and end without worrying about sequels or back story or any fluff. I absolutely loved the way the story unfolded and from start to finish I enjoyed almost every moment in the game. If you are into puzzles, top notch VR visuals, an engrossing story and an immersive world then you owe it to yourself to pick this up…it’s great!
What would I pay? $30 is a perfect price-point. The 3-hour campaign engrossed me from start to finish and when things get unnerving, you still can’t take your eyes away. I cherished every moment in the game and I wish there was more, not because it’s short, but because the devs nailed the game and I would like too see what else they have up their sleeves!
Vertical Robot provided The VR Grid with a code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!