Fooling around in VR and immersing yourself in a digital world is the ultimate gaming escapism and while I am looking forward to playing more titles like Moss, I hope games that allow you to indulge in some fun escapism will continue to make there way onto the platform. Enter Island Time VR.
Sitting at a mere 480.0MB, Island Time VR certainly isn’t of the same ilk as the quality prevalent in Moss; instead, its bright friendly visuals sit firmly alongside titles like I Expect You to Die and Job Simulator. Exploring your immediate surroundings and larking around with the items you find on the island only lasts so long though, underneath the fun of seeing how many ways you can kill yourself is a game of survival – the challenge being to see how long you can keep yourself alive.
At your side is the ever-helpful musings of Carl the crab, voiced by the one and only Greg Miller – he of IGN and Kinda Funny fame – unfortunately; his ‘suggestions’ aren’t always helpful and as amusing as Carl is, the one-liners do become rather repetitive.
Like the exploration of I Expect You to Die, trial and error usually results in your untimely death. Eventually you inch forward, discovering correct combinations of resources that allow you to create heat and food without injury or death. But like so many creative sandboxes out there, much of the game boils down to how inventive you are. Experimenting is fun though and the things you create – like a spear for fishing – come naturally by combining the limited supplies that are strewn about the island. When I say island… it’s more of a small sand dune, there is no wandering around required.
Despite the small confines you find yourself in, you need a fair bit of reach space – at times I was manically reaching from left to right, fighting against the inevitable prospect of death, hanging on to get a higher survival time. These moments of scrabbling around weren’t helped with poor Move Controller tracking; I flailed hopelessly trying to grab rocks when they were quite clearly within my reach.
While island resources are limited, random crates often float past, which contain valuable resources, but ultimately it’s a game of balancing what you currently have, using them sparingly and at the right time to prolong your stay with Carl. Once you begin to work out what can be combined, new tools can be crafted that will help you gather resources more easily – or even better – enable you to scare off the pesky seagulls who keep stealing items you craft or food you’ve gathered.
The biggest drive of the game is the prospect of what else can be crafted if you can survive long enough – new items only present themselves if you make it past ten minutes – but what to do with them? And so the learning loop of trial and error begins again. Every time you die, you take that knowledge into your next attempt, crafting things quicker and at the right time, with knowledge of when to craft and when to hunker down and survive until a new delivery of food/fuel floats past.
Ultimately you will die and for most, the main draw of the game is to see how long you can survive, which to start with will only be a few minutes. Evidently you can befriend some of the other animals around the island – and apparently escape – I’m yet to do either and these hidden puzzles will be best enjoyed if you have a curious nature, or stubborn enough to persevere to find them.
Island Time VR is a lot of fun, but like the other experimental environmental games out there, once you’ve exhausted the combinations of crafting there is little else to keep you coming back. There is only one island to survive on so all that’s left is for you to best your survival score.
What’s really needed is a global leaderboard or additional islands you can survive on. What if you were able to escape the island only to crash on the next one… maybe the pilot survived too? The possibilities of where Flight School Studios could take the game are endless, so I wonder why they stopped at only creating a single island?
Island Time VR is a silly but fun distraction that all the family can laugh at and take turns at being stranded on a VR island – who will survive the longest? It’s a fine piece of comical escapism that fans of similar fun VR titles should certainly pick up.