Looking back at my life choices, I can safely say there is a less than slim chance that my temperamental old knees would ever see me up even the smallest portion of the world’s highest mountain. It’s for this reason then, that I find myself thankful for the existence of Everest VR; a bite-sized PSVR experience that represents the closest I’ll ever get to scaling Earth’s most indomitable peak.
An engaging, though light educational experience
As an introduction to the immersive properties of PSVR, there are perhaps few better efforts than Everest VR. With its easy to use PlayStation Move controls, pie-chart turning system and simple teleportation movement mechanics, just about anybody can stick Sony’s VR helmet onto their skull and get stuck into their own Himalayan odyssey straight away.
Split across five interactive scenarios, players will begin at Basecamp before navigating their way up to the summit of the foreboding mountain, using rope, ladders and snow picks to support them in their ascent. Each scenario is tiny in length (usually no more than five minutes), and the interactions involved are exceedingly simple; you either use your hands to scale the surface with the tools at your disposal, or on flatter ground, move your close to other members of the expedition to listen to their idling conversations.
Along the way, the soothing tone of the narrator imparts various facts about the mountain and the numerous Sherpa folk that surround it, bolstering Everest’s VR claim that it functions as a great educational aid. For example, when an expedition comes through their territory, the Sherpa bless both them and the equipment that they carry, encouraging the hikers to provide an edible offering to their shrine, which should it be devoured by a black crow who then perches itself upon the top of said shrine, indicates that the expedition will find good fortune shortly after. See? Knowledge is power or something like that.
Make no mistake though, Everest VR is not difficult in the slightest, but then it was never supposed to be; instead developer Solfar Studios seeks to educate rather than challenge. And this is Everest VR in a nutshell really, since between the staring at the gorgeous vistas, impeccably rendered mountainside, stirring sunsets and having regular knowledge bombs dropped on you by the narrator, there isn’t a whole lot of other stuff to do, which again is fine because that’s exactly where Everest VR’s ambition lies.
One neat feature though is the addition of God Mode, where you can shrink or expand yourself to any size and explore any area of the Himalayas that takes your fancy. Ultimately this proves to be an interesting diversion, as the accurate, pinpoint replication of the various mountain ranges and subranges makes scoping out every nook and cranny of the environment a real joy and will keep wannabe geographers occupied for a while longer.
Owing to its status as an experience, rather than that of a game then, I’m loathed to score efforts like this because invariably, its merits lay solely in the audiovisual sensations that it provides of a real-life place that many of us will never get the chance to visit. Instead of levels, rewards and trophies, Everest VR’s wealth is measured in stunning views, sublime presentation and as a great introduction to VR in general. As such, if you’re keen to delve into Everest VR’s riches, feel free to ignore the score at the bottom of this review – I would.
A diligently crafted though ultimately lightweight educational effort, Everest VR’s all-too brief length won’t engender it to veteran gamers, but really that’s missing the point as Everest VR nonetheless provides an evocative and involving glimpse into one of Earth’s most spectacular wonders.