Review: Robinson: The Journey
Following the crash of your spaceship the Esmeralda on a strange and exotic planet inhabited by dinosaur, you play little Robin, a survivor of the crash. After setting up home on the planet Robin decides to seek out the cause of the crash and to see if there are any other survivors.
Your journey isn’t solitary though, you have two very different companions; a T-Rex who you befriend and your floating AI assistant, HIGS. Laika, the T-Rex, is very sweet and assists with some light puzzle work and HIGS who also guides you along your journey. He however is a poor man’s Wheatly from Portal 2. Crytek have tried to give him personality but I just found him more of an annoyance and didn’t offer any humour or interesting character traits at all.
Thankfully you don’t have to put up with him for too long as the story only really lasts for a few hours which isn’t great value for money. People questioned the £15 Batman: Arkham VR’s value yet this costs three times more but certainly doesn’t offer the value you’d associate with a £45 game, let alone one that’s pretty much a walking simulator.
The plot is opened up for a sequel so one hopes that following the technical success of this game Crytek can build upon it and offer more.
Form over function is the key phrase here. Although the form is excellent (more on that later) games are meant to entertain with their mechanics and objectives. Robinson fails at that crucial point.
The biggest problem is that the way finding and player guidance is terrible, with your next move and task often unclear. HIGS is not only a little grating but he seldom gives instructions that are helpful and despite you trying to navigate your way around through some very light climbing and building bridges with panels, you’re often a little aimless thanks to one of the most useless maps ever and useless guidance.
The more game elements of Robinson are also incredibly tedious with your main tool being a very basic adaptation of the gravity gun from Half Life 2 allowing you to manipulate objects to allow you to complete an objective or the odd puzzle that no one would struggle to complete.
One way that makes this better than many of its peers though is the movement. PS VR launch title Loading Human: Chapter One had very jarring, jerky and slow movement. Robinson is far superior with movement far smoother and more natural than any other VR game played to date. It shows that with time developers are grappling with the difficulties with this new technology and refining some key areas.
Always Crytek’s strongest area, this is probably the best looking PS VR game yet. Although the fidelity and level of detail is higher in Batman: Arkham VR than Robinson, the lack of movement makes it far easier to develop. In this though Crytek have had to realise a full world that you can walk around in, in virtual reality, which is a far harder task.
Dark caves light by fireflies, desolate tar pits and jungles teeming with life and fauna you’re constantly in awe of your surroundings. Looking up to the skies to see pteranodon swooping about above the lush canopy or holding back whilst giant sauropods stampede past you this is by far one of the most immersive experiences yet.
Batman: Arkham VR has been an amazing introduction for people new to VR, with its impressive attention to detail and level of immersion into the Batman character. It is at most though a simulator with a few middling puzzles but that’s why I’ve played it repeatedly. In fact loading it up just to look at the Joker and Killer Croc in the Batcomputer is my go to thing for being in awe of this technology and for showing friends and family.
To sum up
Robinson: The Journey is very much as its name suggests, a journey. It offers a wonderful experience of visiting a dinosaur infested planet but little in terms of actual gameplay. Well worth the experience at some point in the future once the extortionate extortionate price comes down to sub-£20.
Version reviewed: PS4
Robinson: The Journey is out now on on PlayStation 4 and PC.