Startenders PSVR2 Review – The PSVR2 has quite an initial library of games to test out your new hardware. Foggy Box Games has thrown its own offering into the pool in the shape of a bartending game set in space, called Startenders. The concept feels fun at times, but is that enough to carry the day?
Startenders Review (PSVR 2) – A Watered-Down, Clunky Mixed Drink
You wake up in a living quarters on a spaceship and are greeted by a talking, hovering robot named RILEE. He teleported you here as a recruit into the Academy, with your main role being bartending for the alien inhabitants.
After a couple shifts, you learn that RILEE intended to bring in someone from the planet Arth and that you can’t be there for fear of RILEE getting in trouble with its superiors and, of course, for fear for your own life from the same authorities. Now, you must lay low as a bartender as you work with your few allies to escape.
Part of the charm in Startenders is the writing that emulates the same energy as Portal 2. RILEE plays the role of the sarcastic robot that blatantly hides his own motives behind what he calls your best interests. Mix that in with the likes of any generic retail manager, and you have RILEE.
As part of your plan to escape, Startenders lets you earn money to use on purchasing upgrades. Getting these upgrades isn’t as simple as pressing the purchase button. You buy the blueprints and then use a workbench to assemble them.
A Job Not Of This World
Making drinks can be fun, but assembling the appliances feels the most enjoyable. You get all the parts you need, and the workbench directs you on what part to place where. You then weld the framework pieces in to finish the product, and the bench prints the rest of it.
Before that, though, you have to work. RILEE sits you behind a one-person bar and lets you mostly learn the hard way. Honestly, the way the game delivers the ingredients makes putting drinks together rather self-explanatory.
The added benefit comes with each order showing you both the ingredient you need and, if applicable, the appliance needed to create that ingredient. You get things like a juicer, a slicer, an all-in-one blast chiller and heater, and a dispenser for glasses. You issue the client a thumbs up, and their order appears on the screen above them.
The challenge comes in the form of customer demand. The more they wait, the smaller your payout. At the same time, you can perform flourishes to impress them, granting you more time, like pouring from a great height or tossing a bottle and catching it.
Literally Work For Your Keep
It’s also important to me to mention that you can throw things at both the customers and at RILEE. They also react in different ways, which makes it all the more worthwhile. They never storm off or even react bombastically, but getting to do that after so many years of bad customer service work, even in a virtual space, feels cathartic.
On that note, it’s literally work to play this game most of the time but not necessarily in a negative way. It can be therapeutic to follow a routine like with a job, but you have to be looking for a game like that. If you’re not, the game loop grows old quickly.
Equally so, there’s some sort of jitter with this game that just churns my stomach. I can go for about an hour or so before it gets to me and have to stop. I haven’t tried a terrible amount of VR games, but I don’t have this issue with any other VR game outside of Rush VR on the original PSVR.
Most of the time I feel it, but sometimes it’s bad enough to clearly see. It’s like the bar itself wants to adjust to my movements but can’t. A couple accessibility options make it a little better, like forcing a static location, but the issue still presents itself.
Beware Changing Settings
Also, far too often the game doesn’t place the game focal point directly in front of you. For instance, when you load into the game, you sit at a desk to choose your profile. Most of the time, that desk sits 45 degrees from the direction I face or even too high or too low. I specifically mean the entire room and not the desk itself. The desk has a lever to raise or lower the table. This is significant because the rest of the game keeps to that perspective.
You can change settings to let you control which direction you face, but that also comes with a negative caveat. Every time you change the settings, the game janks a bit. Sometimes, it makes the framework more jittery and sometimes it even keeps you from calling up appliances you need at the bar.
It all works a little better if you’re standing mostly because it’s much easier to accommodate the position the game gives you. Again, as long as you don’t need to make any setting changes during your current play session, you won’t see these issues as badly.
More Work Than Play
Startenders tries to put a twist on a job simulator by putting it in space. The concept is interesting enough for what it wants to do, but its shaky performance and barebones game loop don’t serve up a gripping experience. There’s some fun to be had, but it’s just not enough to make a universal appeal in its current form. $15 is an attractive price, but perhaps wait for a patch or two.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.
Startenders: Intergalactic Bartending is now available for PSVR 2.