Hurl VR

Get your lob on

PCPOWERPLAY - - Game // Review - MICHAEL JENKIN

Con­vinc­ing

play­ers to pur­chase a game in which you bounce a ball along a set of plat­forms un­til it falls into a hole might seem like a pretty hard sell in the vis­ceral dig­i­tal en­ter­tain­ment land­scape we live in to­day; even in VR, it doesn’t scream ex­cite­ment.

But Hurl VR is quite an in­ter­est­ing and fresh en­try in the ric­o­chet­ing-balloff-of-things genre through the way it makes the player fo­cused on how to best ex­e­cute physics-based feats that we nor­mally take for granted in games.

I think it’s safe to say most peo­ple know, or at least have a the­o­ret­i­cal grasp of, how to throw a ball, and Hurl VR neatly gam­i­fies this premise.

At the out­set you’ll stand on a Tron­like plat­form in a dig­i­tal space-scape, look­ing out to­wards float­ing pan­els and a goal ring. A pull of the trig­ger on the Vive con­trollers sum­mons a ball in your hand and it’s up to you to see it meets the goal.

Be­cause you’re tracked one-to-one in VR space, you in­flu­ence al­most ev­ery as­pect of the ball throw, from an­gle, lo­ca­tion, ro­ta­tion and speed, and get­ting your lob to hit its mark is all down to how well you can tweak and re­fine each un­suc­cess­ful throw.

Puz­zles start off sim­ple, re­quir­ing a chuck and a bounce off a sin­gle float­ing tile be­fore land­ing in the goal. The sim­u­la­tion soon be­comes more pin­ball-like, as ex­er­cises de­mand in­creas­ingly com­plex pat­terns of bounces and new me­chan­ics like mov­ing plat­forms, por­tals, bouncier sur­faces and trick­ier set­ups en­ter the fray.

The fur­ther you go, the more you’ll need to fi­nesse the ex­e­cu­tion of a chuck in or­der to en­joy the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of nail­ing a wild trick­shot. See­ing your glow­ing orb il­lu­mi­nate float­ing plat­forms as it bounds off of them with an au­di­ble thud is sat­is­fy­ing, and this only es­ca­lates with each ad­di­tional bounce re­quired as you progress.

If you get stuck there are three as­sis­tive powerups avail­able, which you can use to bet­ter track which path the ball should take, freeze mov­ing plat­forms or cre­ate a vor­tex around the goal that pulls in slightly way­ward shots. While these help round out the fea­ture set of a pretty ba­sic ex­pe­ri­ence, the game doesn’t feel long enough to make them worth­while in­clu­sions. If your throw­ing is on point the game can be com­pleted in a sin­gle sit­ting.

It’s not par­tic­u­larly re­playable and there are many physics-based puz­zlers out there that chal­lenge us to think about power and an­gle be­fore we sling a ball around, but Hurl VR does some­thing in­ter­est­ing by em­pow­er­ing play­ers to be more per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for physics throws than they’ve ever been pre­vi­ously.

While its short length feels like a missed op­por­tu­nity, it’s an ac­ces­si­ble and el­e­gantly pre­sented ex­pe­ri­ence that plays on the strengths of the plat­form to do more with less. A lit­tle more wouldn’t have hurt though.

the fur­ther you go, the more you’ll need to fi­nesse the ex­e­cu­tion of a chuck

Now we want a first­per­son VR Peg­gle.

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