Star Child Gives PlayStation VR The Stylish Platformer It Needs [Preview]
After launching last fall, PlayStation VR's game library hasn't exactly been bristling with incredible content. Though there have been some stellar games released over the last nine months, they've been grossly outnumbered by forgettable titles that have made early adopters wonder about the future of the hardware. Sony's been rather quiet on the virtual reality front, but this past week the company showed off a variety of games coming in 2017 and beyond that should help PSVR feel more complete. Star Child is just one of those titles, and after going hands-on with it, it gave us great hope that PSVR will see the same kind of quality games its parent console hosts.
Admittedly, there isn't much to Star Child right now. The E3 demo we played was meant more to show off what the developers had in mind for the virtual reality version of Star Child. Like Thumper and Resident Evil 7, Playful's side-scrolling platformer will arrive in a standard version that also happens to support VR headsets like PSVR. On its own, Star Child looks good. The world is alien, but there are comforting hues and familiar enough plantlife to keep the strange setting from becoming too foreign. The lead character is a punky little explorer, and in the brief level of the game we played, she expressed a wide range of emotions while working through the stage. All of this sci-fi world is completely observable in standard presentation, but the addition of virtual reality gives players a whole new way to experience Star Child.
Instead of just viewing the game and level straight on, which you can still do anyway, players can actually get up and look around the stage from just about any angle. As long as you're in the viewable space, which is determined by your own living room set up, you can lean in, stand over, stand behind, or stand in front of all the action. While it might just seem like a simple added feature that doesn't do much to impact the gameplay, moving around in the space does give perspectives on the platforming you'd otherwise not have outside of VR. It also turns a pretty 2.5D side-scroller into something more along the lines of Crash Bandicoot, with the front and rear perspectives showing levels in new ways.
Additionally, there are some neat quirks to the world you can spot, like watching the lead character through the prismatic lens of a giant crystal on the cave floor. Little creatures that would normally just be background dressing can be observed scuttling through the world, which is just as realized from every other direction as it is the landscape view.
As to the gameplay itself, Star Child presented us with a rather rudimentary experience in the demo, tasking us with little more than jumping as the player character. There were some light puzzle elements, which too were represented in three-dimensions with the assistance of the PSVR headset. It's not necessary to have the headset on to solve any of the puzzles, but knowing you can get up close and personal with every aspect of this game is a nice touch. It certainly doesn't hurt that much of the game is rendered with details that make seeking out alternate angles is worth the effort.
Star Child's demo was all too brief, but the prospects it presented gave us something to look forward to when it eventually arrives on the PlayStation 4. There's no release date at the moment, but Star Child shows the promise of virtual reality beyond first-person experiences. We can only hope the wait won't be too long, as even Sony's other offerings at E3 this year were eerily similar in style, if not tone, to what's already available. Diversity of that library will go a long way to winning over more fans, and Star Child could make the perfect addition.
Star Child will be available on PlayStation 4 and PSVR sometime in the future.