Perfect Review – PSVR

Prior to writing this review, I had wrestled with the idea of removing the score and the pros/cons breakdown from the foot of the text. Essentially, I could not reconcile that sort of critical criteria with Perfect because it isn’t a game. Of course, PSVR titles erring more towards the ‘experience’ end of the spectrum versus the traditional mechanics that we’re all familiar with are nothing new, but Perfect arguably has no game in it. At all.

In fact, you could easily make the case for Perfect being an app rather than a game; so narrow is the scope of player interaction with it. Nonetheless, while Perfect might prove reductive in all the usual aspects of game design, that shouldn’t suggest that it is an affair which is absolutely bereft of any sort of merit – Perfect has its niche, you just have to be prepared to accept it for what it is.

All experience, no game

From nDreams, the same studio behind PSVR launch title The Assembly, Perfect aims to fulfil that most rudimentary, yet poignant hope that we’ve all had for Virtual Reality technology from the beginning; to be whisked away to unfamiliar, yet beautiful surroundings which wouldn’t be immediately accessible in our everyday lives.

A minimalist affair that even extends to the introductory menu, Perfect lets players choose from three different environments at two different times of day for each, creating a total of six different settings that can be accessed. Given the fact that you can see nearly all of what Perfect offers in just under fifteen minutes, and that half of the settings are just basically tweaked versions of the others, it’s clear that Perfect could certainly have benefitted from packing more value into its offering than what we currently have here.

Split between a sandy beach, a mountainous lakeside cabin and the frozen tundra, movement in each of these locations is extremely limited. To a put a finer point on it, all you can do is use the PSVR headset to look around the environment and press the ‘X’ button on the DualShock 4 controller to teleport to one of a small handful of locations; and that’s really the fullest extent of your traversal capabilities.

Beyond teleporting from one area to the next, there really isn’t much to do in any of Perfect’s virtual domains. You can pick up some objects, such as stones and snowballs and throw them about, or, you can pick up sticks and set them alight at a campfire, but honestly, it all feels rather like a tech demo moreso than a truly interactive experience, rife with points of interest and things for you to do.

In each location there are also music players that when activated play one of three calming serenades, but quite honestly, the whole thing works better if you just go back into your XMB, turn on Spotify and pump your own music through Perfect instead. Of course, making or breaking each of these locations is the audiovisual presentation that underpins their illusions, and for the most part, Perfect does a decent job of immersing the player in its numerous, Unreal Engine 4 powered environments.

The first of these is the mountainous, lakeside cabin located in what would look to be something akin to the Canadian Rockies. Surrounded by lush forests and a winding river that finds itself sandwiched between a couple of mountain ranges, the player can teleport down to a dock where they can toss stones into the water, examine nearby schools of fish lazily making their way through the river or peer up towards the sky (the latter of which reveals a gorgeous starfield that manifests itself during the night time setting for this environment).

Elsewhere, the beach setting is probably the most lacking of the lot; offering up an environment that even a night time just isn’t that interesting or especially atmospheric. Conversely, setting the frozen tundra location on its nighttime preset reveals Perfect’s best location; an isolated, frigid wilderness where the gentle glow of a lamp inside a tent can be seen alongside the jaw-dropping Aurelia Borealis in the night sky, this environment is arguably the most immersive in the whole package by a country mile. Additionally, it’s also really this area which puts the exclamation point on the caliber of Perfect’s sound design too; the crackle of a homemade fire neatly juxtaposed against the somewhat chilling howl of a distant wolf pack.

Furthermore, each setting is also permeated with occasional events that occur on a random basis, such as a hot air balloon lazily passing over your head, for example. Though in truth, such occurrences happen far too infrequently to really be considered as a plus to Perfect’s overall sense of place. And this is the thing really, what Perfect offers is a place, a blank slate if you will, for players to come and relax however they see fit. Indeed, Perfect is at its best when you come into it after having been exhausted doing something else more productive or taxing, whether that’s another game or something else in real-life altogether.

If there is one drawback to Perfect’s visual design it’s that, especially in the lakeside cabin environment, the low display resolution causes the numerous trees to sometimes blend together in an ugly mess of pixels, which rather than immersing you in the world around you, instead cause you to recoil ever so slightly. The apparent lack of additional PS4 Pro support is also a shame, since it would have been nice to see the additional visual fidelity that Sony’s latest home console could bring to Perfect’s various locales; especially given the fact that such fidelity is arguably one of the cornerstones of the entire experience.

Ultimately though, if you’re looking for a VR experience that will unwind you, Perfect ticks that box admirably; the feeling of calm when sipping a hot chocolate (or a nice whiskey) as you stare up at the Northern Lights while the tundra bellows around you is highly pleasant to say the least, while simply being able to sit on a virtual beach and listen to your favourite podcast via Spotify also proves to an attractive proposition for shaking off the rigours of the day.

That however, is all that Perfect can provide; an empty container of sorts that the player must fill with the stresses, trials and tribulations of their day rather than expecting to get anything more out of it than that. In this sense then, Perfect is a success; just make sure not to treat it like a game because it really, really isn’t one.

In Summary

An immersive portal into a series of different worlds, Perfect fulfils its remit ably as escapism, but not as videogame escapism. The utter lack of anything remotely resembling player agency, challenge or traditional game design means that Perfect fills a very specific niche as a relaxant, rather than anything more ambitious than that.



The Final Word

If you're looking to immerse yourself in a meticulously rendered world for a few minutes at a time, or just relax for a bit after a stressful day, then Perfect has you covered. If however, you're expecting anything, anything more than that then Perfect simply doesn't do enough to maintain interest.