Developer / Publisher – VRMonkey
Price – US $4.99 / EU €N/A / UK £N/A / AU $N/A
Release date – December 12th, 2017
Control Method – Dual Shock 4, 2x Move
Pro Patch – No
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
I love puzzles and the more complex, the more difficult, the better. Games like Statik have had me looking around a room for hours, just trying to figure out what to do next. Puzzle games that don’t hold your hand and leave you to your own devices are a rarity and in this aspect, The Rabbit Hole shines like few VR games. Unfortunately, the game surrounding these puzzles is a not so hot mess.
Dual Shock 4 and Move are available to interact with all the items around you. Said interactions are of the look and click variety with both control methods requiring you to look (or point with the Move) at an object to interact with. It’s simple, easy and shows off it’s mobile VR roots, but it works. Move controls are underutilized as, even though you are given in-game hands, you don’t actually use them to grab anything, but just to point to highlight an item. Where this game fails miserably is movement. This may be the worst use of DS4 movement in VR out of any game I have ever played. Your 2 movement options are comfort or comfort off. Comfort off simply sets waypoints you can look at and trigger, teleporting you to said point. The problem here is that waypoints don’t always pop up and when they do, you may have to hit X like 20 times to activate it, or look away and look back to get it to work. Comfort on bypasses this by letting you navigate the room freely using the thumbsticks…this method is also broken. I found myself constantly running into invisible barriers that forced me to make subtle adjustments to just to walk around a table. Thankfully Move controllers offer a solution to the DS4 by offering the teleportation option, which immediately remedies the issues with the DS4, but the button layout feels a bit awkward and the lack of any kind of ‘hand-to-item’ interaction does make this feel like a tacked on option. Still, if you have the option, go with the Moves and save yourself some frustration.
The visuals here are also well below what you would expect from a game that takes place almost entirely in one room. The default settings have this game so dark it’s impossible to see anything, and even at max brightens, your surroundings can be difficult to see at times. I think this was intentionally done to mask to low quality visuals and while the game doesn’t look awful, it’s definitely on the lower end of the quality scale. The room is nothing more than simple visual assets (like a bed, a clock, a desk…) and looks ok, but like I said, don’t expect to be impressed. The sound is better with a few jump scares, creepy music and an overall disturbing vibe that I did appreciate.
So where is the win you ask? It’s in the puzzles friend. The one saving grace in The Rabbit Hole is the intuitive and challenging puzzles. Like I said, this doesn’t hold your hand. You wake up locked in a strange room and you are tasked with trying to find a way out. While some puzzles are easy and can even be solved by chance and luck, most require thought and some had me stumped for a tonne of time…and I loved it. Every item you find has a purpose, if your stumped, look around, read item descriptions and check your inventory, the solution is there, just think a little. Some puzzles involve just moving or manipulating tiles, messing with time and shrinking or enlarging yourself, this is a twisted Alice in Wonderland type tale after all.
As I don’t want to spoil anything, I can’t really talk about the best part of the game without giving stuff away, but suffice to say, those looking for a mental challenge may be surprised by the thought put into these puzzles. The scares are pretty tame, the visuals are lacking and the controls are atrocious, but given the low asking price, I’m willing to recommend this to those folks who love tickling their brain.
What would I pay? If it weren’t for the puzzles, I’d say avoid this like the plague and if you don’t like puzzles than stay far away anyways. That said, I’d happily pay the $5 asking price as I loved the mental challenge offered here.
VR Monkey provided The VR GRid with a review code for this game and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!