It’s April, the weather is actually starting to show it and Steam have unveiled a major sale for VR titles. It has set it up in an odd way this time, with a number of “Featured” games as well as showcasing a number of other titles which are surprisingly good and surprisingly well discounted. There are 29 featured games alone, so these will be fairly brief reviews, as with the Humble VR sale we did earlier this year. The sale ends 23rd April. The prices will be in GBP so be wary that your regional equivalent may not quite match the exchange rate.
(Survios, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 30% Off, £20.99)
Survios’ hit wave shooter is as good a place for Steam to start off as any. It’s a pretty nifty showcase for VR, as while it is beholden to the inherent limits of Room Scale, it’s very fun and really rather immersive, with lots of thrilling wave action, visceral combat, accidental dropping of weapons and frantic movement, with a blip locomotion system that actually feels quick enough to execute that it doesn’t get in the way of the action.
Should You Buy? Definitely, it’s a wave shooter but a really good example of one.
Star Trek Bridge Crew
(Ubisoft, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 60% Off, £15.99)
Star Trek Bridge Crew puts you and three other people at the helm of the Starship Enterprise in one of four main positions, exploring strange new worlds, engaging in interstellar combat and boldly going where no one in a bulky VR headset has gone before. Quite frankly, it’s a fairly shallow experience that isn’t worth the full £40 price tag. For 16 quid however it’s a lot of fun if you can drag 3 friends along for the ride. A recent update means they no longer require headsets but it’s way more fun the more immersed you are.
Should You Buy? If you have friends who’ll join you on your voyage through space.
(Devolver Digital, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 25% off, £11.24, Early Access)
Devolver Digital, the makers of such serious works of art as Broforce, have made an amazingly visceral and immersive punching simulator, that catches you and won’t let go until you bump into a wall whilst swinging a mace like a hammer thrower or accidentally javelining your vive controller into a TV. Seriously, the reviews for Gorn are almost as entertaining, with tales of walls being smashed and tables broken.
Should You Buy? Without question. Also buy contents insurance on your house if you don’t have a tennis court to play on.
(Cloudgate Studio, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 30% off, £13.64)
It’s a VR survival game, and does quite a lot right, including having vive tracker support for full body tracking, a heap of accessibility modes and locomotion systems and looks fairly good for a game with a high scale and limited budget. Amazingly enough unlike many survival games it is out of early access, although people have still noted clipping, hitbox and collision detection issues, so be forewarned.
Should You Buy? Probably just about worth it with the discount and with the novelty of surviving in VR.
Stand Out: VR Battle Royale
(raptor lab, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 30% Off, £13.64, Early Access)
This is very much a buyer beware early access purchase, and probably the least surprising concept to come out right now. Remember PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds? Here it is in VR! It could look a lot worse although it seems to be a fairly small, ugly map currently, feels unfinished and seems to have a serious issue with causing motion sickness. There does seem to be a nugget of a good game in there but right now it’s not worth the literal headaches to dig it out.
Should You Buy? Not right now, and chances are by the time it comes out there will be a Fortnight or PUBG VR game which plays a lot better than this.
(Mixed Realms Pte, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 25% off, £17.24)
Finally out of Early Access, the new kid on the block Ninja VR simulator is really holding its own. It looks great, has a fine and fairly unique locomotion system, a slow motion mechanic that like SUPERHOT VR makes you feel incredibly awesome when you fight, shoot, bounce bullets back, slice ninja robots in half, do backflips and run along walls. Really should be among your VR showcase games.
Should You Buy? With the swiftness of a ninja.
(Stress Level Zero, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 25% Off, £11.24)
Duck Season is… interesting to say the least. The best way to describe it is like a VR creepypasta: a haunted old school game that gets progressively more messed up as it goes along. The closest thing to it would be something like Pony Island.
Should You Buy? Yes, you’re unlikely to play anything quite like this in VR.
(SUPERHOT Team, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 25% Off, £14.24)
I’m not sure what else can be said that hasn’t been said about SUPERHOT VR. It’s a game that really needs to be in everyone’s collection, needs to be used to showcase what VR is about not just in terms of immersion and gameplay. The mechanic of enemies moving when you do is pretty amazing, and when you nail a successful level, few games leave you as satisfied with your ability. If you have a VR headset that can play it (which is basically any tethered one) you owe it to yourself to buy it.
Should You Buy? Super Yes.
Dead Effect 2 VR
(Badfly Interactive, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 60% Off, £7.79)
Dead Effect 2 VR must be one of those rare games where VR just makes it better. A zombie wave shooter with RPG elements akin to something like Killing Floor, Dead Effect 2’s original version got very mixed reviews, and was seen as mediocre, but the effort made to polish the VR version has given it a life all of its own, and it almost becomes worth buying just for that.
Should You Buy? If you like wave shooters, it’s a good example at an excellent price, otherwise stick to Sairento VR or Raw Data.
(Owlcherry Labs, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 10% Off, £13.94)
You probably know it by now. Owlcherry Lab’s virtual playground of super serious working is a ton of mad physics driven fun. The discount is pretty poor on this game but if you haven’t gotten it already, it’s a great little showcase game to show off all the cool stuff you can do in VR. Also a recent update added fidget spinners. Because of course.
Should You Buy? Only if you happen to own a VR headset. So yes.
The Gallery Episodes: Call of the Starseed and Heart of the Emberstone
(Cloudhead Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 50% Off, £19.04)
These two episodic games are also available separately but the discount cuts a further 10% off the standard sale price on top of that. The games are short but impeccably polished atmospheric adventures inspired by 1980s dark fantasy films. The length will be the decider so if you’re uncertain, buy the first one on its own at 60% off.
Should You Buy? Just about yes. The bundle price combined makes Episode 2 worth it.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
(Steel Crate Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 50% Off, £5.49)
An oldie but a goodie, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the template of how to do couch multiplayer in VR. One person is in the hotseat looking at a bomb, whilst their friends are scrambling through the instruction manual trying to help solve the puzzle. Only one person can see the bomb and can’t see how to diffuse it, so communication is key with the other team, which of course degenerates into shouting and explosions.
Should You Buy? Definitely, it’s the bomb. (I’ll get my coat)
LA Noire: The VR Case Files
(Rockstar Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 25% Off, £18.74)
LA Noire is a great example of what VR can do to a classic game, taking it from a fascinating interactive game to a really immersive VR sleuthing simulator. Most of the mechanics from the original, from studying and looking around evidence, to making notes to looking for tells in your suspects to figure out when they’re lying, work really well in VR. On top of that, it’s just great to see LA Noire back in the limelight it deserved 7 years ago.
Should You Buy? Without question.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
(Owlcherry Labs/Adult Swim Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 50% Off, £11.49)
Probably the only time this has been cheaper than Job Simulator, Owlcherry Labs’ spiritual successor based on the wildly popular Szechuan sauce advocate is every bit as mind-bending, wild and off the wall as the show is. Job Simulator is more universal, but Rick and Morty has name value that makes it a great showcase in itself, as well as a very fun game.
Should You Buy? Get it and get schwifty
Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
(VRWERX, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 34% Off, £15.70)
Based on the popular found-footage horror movie series, Paranormal Activity, the Lost Soul is the dark wander through one’s house that PT promised. It looks good and is even pretty scary at times, although there are some issues with movement and lifespan.
Should You Buy? Maybe if you like the series or like that kind of slow paced horror game.
(Indimo Labs, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 35% off, £9.74, Early Access)
First off, a warning. This game has been in early access for over two years now, with the last update being in January. An immersive, relatively short series of episodic RPG adventures, most of the magic in Vanishing Realms is in the movement. There’s a lot of full body actions, especially in combat, including sword and shield action, ducking, shooting with a bow, lighting torches and all that feel like fantastic fun, but it feels like there isn’t enough there.
Should You Buy? Maybe at the sale price or to show off room scale VR.
(Downpour Interactive, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 40% Off, £11.39, Early Access)
Buyer beware of course, this is an early access game and has been since 2016. However an update is on the horizon which will add some updates. Onward is an interesting looking military shooter in VR with a focus on realism. This means a bit more in VR then it would in Call of Duty, as it means bullets fly overhead, you have to realistically reload a rifle, and matches are slow paced and very intense. It will, like the ARMA series likely be limited to a niche audience but it’s still a very cool game. Also reports are that it requires an absolute beast to avoid major load times, so be careful.
Should You Buy? For the price it’s definitely worth it, if you are willing to chance early access and have the phenom of a computer to run it quickly.
I Expect You To Die
(Schell Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 20% Off, £15.19)
There are only a few room scale VR puzzle games, but I Expect You To Die is still among the best. Essentially a spy themed escape room, you have psychic powers and a death wish to get out of all manner of ludicrous death traps, from booby trapped cars to laser filled labs. Short but with a lot of fun to be had in the package.
Do you Expect Me to Talk? No Mr Bond, I expect you to buy!
Space Pirate Trainer
(I-Illusions, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 40% Off, £6.59)
Essentially a VR wave shooter, Space Pirate Trainer has you duck, weave, block and shoot waves of ships down. It’s pretty well suited to VR and looks fantastic. Physically moving to dodge shots is something that works very well and for the price it’s probably a steal.
Should You Buy? For that price, yes.
(Guy Godlin, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 33% Off, £7.36)
Probably the most obvious app you could think of for VR, Virtual Desktop gives you a 360 screen which you can use to use your desktop in VR. It definitely has its uses for things like 3D video and ultra-wide screen things, as well as more conventional applications on a wider screen. You get the feeling this is going to very quickly be made redundant by solutions like Windows House.
Should You Buy? Only if you have a use for it.
(Sólfar Studios, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 25% Off, £11.61, Early Access)
A roguelite shooter set in a suspiciously Souls-like dark surreal medieval setting, it looks very good and promising but suffers from the classic problem most early access rougelite games do – a lack of content. Potentially very promising but I would personally hold off on the early access.
Should You Buy? Not in this sale, wait for more content unless you really love the style.
Serious Sam VR Bundle
(Croteam/Devolver Digital, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 70% Off, £36.26)
Serious Sam is an amazingly fun open arena shooter series that has been ported to VR, with hilariously explosive results. They’re good ports with a mix of locomotion options. Now, over 36 quid doesn’t sound like a terribly good deal, until you realise this contains four VR games and retails for over £120. Each game is available for around 15 quid separately too.
Should You Buy? In classic Serious Sam fashion it’s all or nothing, either pick all of them up now or wait for the First Encounter to go on a cheaper individual sale.
(id Software, HTC Vive/Windows Mixed Reality, 30% Off, £13.99)
You probably already know about Doom VFR, and given how crazy, off the wall and fun it is, it almost doesn’t need much description. It’s one of a few games every person who owns a VR headset really should have.
Should You Buy? Hell yes.
(Vertigo Games, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 45% Off, £16.49)
Arizona Sunshine is one of the oldest big VR shooters that actually was made with the format in mind. Still regularly updated and still as great as ever.
Should You Buy? If you need another great FPS wave shooter in your life.
(Dylan Fitterer, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 50% Off, £7.49)
Essentially the Audiosurf of VR, Audioshield is a trippy VR rhythm game that can play any song and turn it into a series of blue and red balls to block. An easy win, given that it has youtube streaming support as well to play pretty much any song available on the platform.
Should You Buy? At that price it’s an absolute must.
(davevillz, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 40% Off, £4.19, Early Access)
An interesting experiment at trying for a hyper-realistic shooter, however it is still in early access, has a low budget and it really shows. However, its saving grace is in its modded content. There is a TON of custom maps, and adding a bunch of custom levels in makes the game feel closer to a realistic Counter Strike: Source, and gives it the potential to be fantastic. It needs work, but at that price it’s worth getting in on the ground level if you’re willing.
Should You Buy? Yes, if you know what you’re getting in for.
(Google, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 50% Off, £7.49)
This almost needs no explanation. This is Google’s 3D painting tool, and is absolutely a joy to use. It might have been a tad too much at £15 but at £7.50 it is an absolute steal.
Should You Buy? Yes.
(Boundless Dynamics, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Windows Mixed Reality, 20% Off, £18.39)
VR flight sims have been amazing fun since time immemorial, and VTOL VR has the makings of something very special and also very petrifying. Right now it needs some more visual polish, but the mechanics and gameplay are already at a high level. If you’re into simulators and virtual reality, this is an absolute must.
Should You Buy? If you are looking for a VR flight sim, definitely. Otherwise it might be worth waiting for further development and polish.
Fallout 4 VR
(Bethesda Softworks, HTC Vive, 30% Off, £27.99)
Fallout 4 has been spoken about many times, but right now it can’t be stated enough how needed this game is for VR, showing the potential for a full, gigantic RPG in virtual reality. 30% is not a giant discount, but that does not stop it from being a must own.
Should You Buy? Definitely.
(Starbreeze Studios, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift, 50% off, £3.74)
Payday 2 is a game that has been around a few years but as recently as last month recieved a free official expansion pack to add VR support. This game is pretty brilliant and awesome fun with or without VR, and while it runs on the same base game engine and is cross-compatible with non-VR players, it is surprisingly well realised and controls brilliantly, with a choice of both teleport and other locomotion. Given that nearly everyone seems to have a copy of Payday 2 this is a no brainer for some multiplayer VR action. An Ultimate Edition is also available with all the DLC for 76% off as well, which might be worth it given the gigantic amount of extra content the game has accumulated over the years.
Should You Buy? Chances are you already have Payday 2 anyway, but if not then fix that grave error.
Best of the Rest
What intrigues me about this sale isn’t the huge amount of games in the featured section but how many games were missed out and in the “More VR games section”. Games like Elite Dangerous VR, Batman Arkham VR, To the Top, Sprint Vector, Fruit Ninja VR, The Talos Principle VR, Surgeon Simulator VR and Battlezone among others. This even includes some recent releases like odd Japanese rhythm game Hatsune Miku VR and Psychonauts VR: The Rhombus of Ruin. The latter was only released this week.