Superhypercube Review (PlayStation 4)Luke Brown |
Superhypercube floats you gently through a dimensional vortex not unlike the one at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You're in control of a celestial body, but it's not your own. It takes many shapes, but never feels alien either. As the vivid spacescapes engulf you, you're transported out of your comfort zone, but not to a realm of unease. Rather, it's a bit of a serene environment, with hues and designs that calm your nerves as you progress further into this unknown and never-ending realm.
But then something appears on the horizon. It's a wall, and it's blocking your path. Now panic sets in as you've got to find a way to get through this obstacle to maintain your zen flow. As it draws nearer, you see an opening, but you're not sure you can fit. You contort your body in all manner of twists and turns, and finally you're through. You skimmed the gap, but you made it. The world around you reflects your success, and more celestial bodies join with yours. It's not so bad you think, this life; then another wall appears and the dread rears its head again.
As virtual reality games go, Superhypercube is about as chill as they come. It's the perfect introduction for people who haven't yet experienced the sensation, but it's also a clever puzzle game that will challenge even the most astute players. Superhypercube builds a fantastical world around you to start. It might look familiar to anyone who took class photos in the '90s with its neon laser grids washing over players as they fly through the game space. While you're constantly moving forward at an even pace, you can still observe the world around you as it glides past. The ever-changing landscape is always full of bright colors and geometry inspired by retro visions of inner game worlds without ever feeling gimmicky.
You start as a simple cube, and must make it through wall after wall in order keep going. The deceptively simple trick is Superhypercube adds new cubes to your form as you pass through each wall. Where once you were one cube, you will quickly be many. Soon, your avatar begins to take abnormal geometric shape. Though the holes in the walls will expand accordingly, the challenge comes from figuring out how to fit your monstrosity of a form through the gap. Then of course, there's the matter of not being able to see what the hole looks like as your shape begins to obscure your view.
As you increase in size, you'll have to look around the shape to see just what lies ahead. The formation stays on a single axis, and the only it ever moves is when you want to rotate it around. This not only eases you into virtual reality's sense of space, but also allows you to move around within the environment without inducing any kind of ill feelings. The fixed points act as a grounding rod for your sense of space and balance, and the lack of twitch movement keeps things from transforming too quickly for your eyes and brain to adjust. It's smart, and one of the reasons why we found Superhypercube to be the best game to start new players off with when trying out the PSVR for the first time.
Strategizing in this manner is also crucial if you hope to make it further than the first 10 walls. Every 10 walls, you'll encounter a special moving wall, which rotates one-quarter turn every second or so to make the obstacle that much more of a challenge. Not only do you have to start visualizing your shape and how it fits, but you'll sometimes have to visualize it two or three more turns further to compensate. You do earn some power-ups along the way to make this task a tad bit easier, like the time-stop and the wall bomb. Those meters fill quick at first, but the farther you get the slower they build. You almost want to hold onto them forever just in case, and often end up not using them at all because you're too afraid to "waste" them. Use them, and don't be a fool like us.
You do only get to tries for the first 100 levels you beat, but you earn another life there and at 1000 levels. If that seems steep that's because it is. Failure just isn't looked down upon here, it's basically outlawed. You will fail though, and don't let those online leaderboards discourage you from continuing to enjoy the adventure. It's random every single time, and the next time through you just might find your flow. Getting on those perfect runs gives you a great rhythm and vibe, and the feeling of accomplishment is immediate and fairly long-lasting. Though there's not any real multiplayer to speak of, Superhypercube is a perfect "pass the controller" game, where you can compete all night long for the best score and streak. It might take a little longer because of the headset swapping, but it's an enjoyable time nonetheless.
Superhypercube is a terrific puzzle game in and of itself, let alone as a launch title for the PlayStation VR. It checks all the boxes for a rewarding and exciting VR experience, with the only real drawback being its singular mode. All you do over and over is try to fit through wall after wall. That might grow stale after a few hours for some, but there's enough in the visuals and the random-generated content to keep Superhypercube feeling fresh long after you've piloted your first cube.
This review was completed with a digital copy of Superhypercube provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.