Crytek’s Robinson Crusoe-inspired science fiction adventure turned heads with its E3 2015 reveal, promising a prehistoric world in which players could walk with dinosaurs through the immersive medium of virtual reality. The enticing pitch from a proven developer lead many to hope, even expect, that Robinson: The Journey would be PlayStation VR’s so called ‘killer app’, but it doesn’t quite meet those expectations.
A Disney-like tale of a lost boy that longs for human companionship, but finds the same comforting dysfunction in an AI and a dinosaur.
Robinson’s climbing mechanics can cause similar negative effects, pulling your vision in uncomfortably close to geometry and, on occasion, requiring you to crane your neck in unnatural ways to reach for handholds. It’s a shame, as when the segments work they’re exhilarating, especially when taking a sweaty-palmed plunge and nailing the timing to grab a ledge and save yourself below.
PlayStation Move support will undoubtedly make climbing more natural and intuitive, allowing players to reach for handholds with their arms instead of hands strapped to their head. It’ll equally benefit wielding the multi-tool, which is clearly modelled after one of the controllers for immersion sake, but, inexplicably, the functionality isn’t available at launch. It’s coming via a free update, which is good, but so much of the game design seems centred around the control method that it frankly shouldn’t have released in its absence.
Power on, regardless of the issues, and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning encounters that’ll prompt pause, leaving you marvelling at the majesty of a range of placid dinosaur species. Conversely, you’ll also face unnerving encounters at the sharp claws of some unsavoury carnivorous types. Tense stealth sections see you creeping around packs of raptors, physically peeking through gaps in scenery to best seize the opportunity to make a move, or throwing objects to distract them in an exciting realisation of the classic Jurassic Park kitchen scene.
If you’re spotted, another unfortunate issue comes to light in the poor placement of checkpoints. You’re sure to be sent back a decent trek whenever Robin meets his end, but whilst slow movement makes VR nice and comfortable for the most part, it does mean there’s no expedient way to get back to where you were. Considering this sluggish retreading of ground comprised a proportionally decent amount of the four to six hours it takes to complete the game, many will struggle to justify the price.
When all's said and done, even with its myriad of flaws, Robinson: The Journey is a charming jaunt. A Disney-like tale of a lost boy that longs for human companionship, but finds the same comforting dysfunction in an AI and a dinosaur. Crytek focused on creating a rich and interactive virtual world, to which end they succeeded, but it came at the cost of compelling gameplay.
Do you have PlayStation VR and fancy giving Robinson: The Journey a try? Then keep an eye out for our upcoming giveaway to be in with the chance of bagging yourself a copy.