I have played the first two chapters of Horizon Call of the Mountain at least three times so far. Why? Because as much as people say otherwise, VR is not immediately plug-and-play! Also, Horizon Call of the Mountain is a lot to type over and over, so I am going to call it Horizon VR here!
I am also going to try and separate Horizon VR the game from PS VR2. This is a bit tricky, as Horizon VR is very much the tech showcase for PS VR2. Think of Astro bot for PS VR and PlayStation 5 – the game itself was fun, but mainly exists to show what the tech can do.
All that said, my first thought when starting Horizon VR was Horizon – Skyrim edition. You play a new character in this stand-alone adventure, and the opening is almost copy-pasted from Skyrim. You are in a boat rather than a carriage, and you aren’t the chosen one, but if you played Skyrim it’s hard to ignore.
Then you are given a tutorial on how to play with your chosen control methods. This is why I have played the introduction so often. For myself, I am moving with the sticks like a normal controller.
The alternate method has you pumping your arms like you are running. You don’t have to go that hard, but it does apparently help with motion sickness if you are new to VR.
It’s nice that Horizon VR has touches like this as part of the core experience. It might have been better to default to this and change to stick controls as an option. VR veterans are more used to this, and it means newcomers are less likely to feel sick up front.
Combat is a mixed bag to me. You are on ‘rails’ again, set to circling around your enemy. You can strafe and quick dodge, and combat movement is workable.
Firing your bow though – that’s a heap of fun. In terms of realism, I feel Wii Sports had archery feeling more realistic. Once you get used to the slightly floaty aiming though, Horizon VR archery is a lot of fun.
During the levels are warning beacons that you light with your bow. These are a form of collectible for completionists/trophy hunters, but offer something to fund on your second playthrough. The feeling you get when you hit a distant target is so satisfying though!
Your focus has been replaced by Instinct – different name, same idea. Hold down the triangle button to see where you can go, and what you may be able to interact with. That said, the path you take is fairly linear – there is no real open world to explore.
That doesn’t mean you are stuck to the same experience each time. At times there are essentially ‘pick a path’ choices that allow you to play again and experience something different. These are isolated experiences though, as you rejoin the story path again every time (so far at least).
As a game, and remembering I am maybe one-third of the way through it, Horizon VR is average to above average only. It’s Horizon Lite, and a VR tutorial rather than a must-play game standing on its own merits.
This isn’t the end of the world, and I highly recommend starting with Horizon VR (get it bundled if you can!) if you are new to the world of VR. If you have experience with other VR experiences, I think you will enjoy Horizon VR but get it on sale – the AU$100 asking price is a bit much!