Paper Beast – A new PSVR experience is another world to explore

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Peter Molyneux
@petermolyneux
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What's so great about virtual reality is that it opens up new possibilities for video games. By putting you directly into the world, PlayStation VR can deliver experiences that a flat screen TV screen simply cannot. It makes for a more tangible and believable game when you can literally reach out and grab something, or throw a real punch and land it on the enemy right in front of you. It's perfect for something like Paper Beast, a game that's about putting you in a surreal setting and coexisting with the titular creatures. Coming from the mind behind Another World, this is an equally bizarre sci-fi excursion that focuses on its simulated ecosystem.



After a trippy introductory sequence, you'll be immersed in an alien environment where paper flora and fauna abound, and it's up to you what to do and how to do it. The game structure is linear, but each stage is a miniature sandbox, and you're more or less on your own. It's not completely devoid of objectives, however - to progress through the story, you'll need to solve environmental puzzles using what little is around you.

Playing with a DualShock 4 controller or a pair of motion wands (both work well, so it's preferred), you can teleport to each area and pick up certain objects, plants, and animals. That's about the extent of what you can do, but Paper Beast is more about how creatures react to each other and to the world.

For example, Papyvorus – the animal you'll see most throughout the game – likes to eat crumpled up balls of paper. You can use them to attract critters, and they'll fight for the treats when they catch one. However, the Multi-Colored Predator will hunt the Papyvorus, and you might need them to unlock the next part of the story, so you'll have to be careful not to take them across Predator territory. The puzzles in the game aren't just about wildlife — they're often about the environment itself. You may need to move water from one part of the map to another or create a sand bridge. These two elements often go hand in hand, and you will slowly learn how each species fits into the ecosystem and how it can affect the landscape.



It's unusual, but really rather clever how it all works. Once you understand the interaction between the world and the beasts in it, it's very satisfying to sit back and watch things unfold. However, many of the puzzles can leave you scratching your head, so the gameplay is directionless. It's nice that you find yourself sorting things out on your own, but sometimes we got confused. Much of the game is about experimenting and manipulating things in a fun way, which is great, but sometimes you may find yourself wading for a simpler answer.

Still, it's worth seeing the weird story through to its conclusion. The game provides a great sense of place; the setting is otherworldly, but feels like it existed long before you got involved. In fact, most critters didn't care if you gaped at the sandy landscape. Throughout the levels there are some brilliant moments that we don't want to spoil - the ending in particular will definitely give you pause.

Throughout the main game, you'll come across special colored shapes that disappear when you collect them. These are worth tracking down, as they unlock additional creatures, plants, and effects to play with in Sandbox mode. In this part of Paper Beast, you are free to play with whatever takes your fancy. You can shape and mold the landscape, group various species together and observe how everything interacts. You can also zoom out of a god simulation view, which gives us strong dust vibes. There are no rules or tasks to complete in this mode – you are free to do whatever you want, see how the world reacts to weather effects, terrain changes, etc. Unlocking everything for Sandbox might require replaying some chapters, adding a few steps to the six-hour story. However, as impressive as the simulated ecosystem is, we're not sure it will hold too many gamers' attention for long.



Conclusion

Paper Beast is an unusual but well-realized world in PSVR. The interaction between you, the environments, and all the plants and animals is fun to experience and really provides good times throughout the story. Some of the puzzles are a little too obtuse, but overall the freedom given to you to experiment leads to a very unique experience. Sandbox mode adds longevity and lets you really tinker with all the elements of the game. We're not sure we'd call this an absolute must-have, but it's utterly unique and captivating in a way that only VR games can be.


  • Unusual but beautiful world
  • complex ecosystem
  • Steps encourage experimentation
  • Open sandbox mode
  • Obtuse puzzles
  • Little reason to play again

Good 7/10

Scoring policy
Review of the copy provided by Pixel Reef

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