Loading Human is an unusual game. While it does a couple of interesting things with VR it ultimately boils down into a forgettable snooze fest with questionable design. Loading Human is set in the distant future where you play as Prometheus, a man who is given the task of his dying father, to undertake a mission in order to aid in his research.
That might sound cliché and unremarkable, because it is. In fact, I didn’t know what was going on half the time and just went with the flow of the game. The game constantly tries to make you care about the relationships with Prometheus and his father, Alice (his love interest) and his AI companion. Ironically, the AI is the most interesting character in the game. There is just not enough interactions with the other characters to establish a connection with them.
The game is set mostly within a modern house, while you do mundane tasks in order to progress the story. It operates more or less like a point and click adventure game like Monkey Island or the Telltale games except it is in first person. The art style is probably the game’s strongest point. It has a cool sci-fi feel and the Unreal Engine really shines…. When you are close up to it. Stand too far away and text becomes impossible to read and faces get blurred. I did notice some amazing touches to the graphics. Light reflections on white boards and floors look incredibly realistic and it has me staring at it for a number of seconds. Having said that, I still find Batman Arkham VR, RIGS and Robinson: The Journey to be leagues ahead graphically. Lip syncing is also very on point. There were moments talking with Alice, where I felt I was interacting with a real person. But this was rare.
The game uses Unreal Engine that produces nice visuals, when they’re not too far in the distance…
Loading Human uses Move controls to play… and it’s weird. Like most VR games, you can reach out and grab items. Each item triggers a description said in the mind of Prometheus. It can extend the gameplay a bit and give you more context on the characters, but otherwise it’s unnecessary. You use these mechanics to pick up items and solve puzzles in order to progress. This is done mostly well. It’s the navigating that is the kicker. Loading Human uses a complex and in my opinion impractical method to move around. You look at the direction you want to walk to and press the move button to move forward. No sticks (which is going to be extremely detrimental to Sony’s VR future if they don’t add one to the move controllers), just press to move forward. To move back you hold a move controller behind your head. It just doesn’t feel right. Loading Human also implements a VR comfort mode. If you are looking down while walking, the walking speed is much slower compared to looking ahead and walking. Through my playthrough, I didn’t get locomotion sickness once, which is great. It still didn’t make the controls feel any less awkward. In fact, crouching is a pain. There are also many sections where you are just walking… it’s incredibly boring.
There are some immersive moments that I thought were pretty cool in the game. Picking up an electric razor for example and moving it along my face shaved my scruffy looking beard. I thought it was a nice touch, but the novelty dies down pretty fast.
There are some nice touches in Loading Human. But there are mostly overshadowed by the game’s other problems.
The game also does a lousy job at telling you what you need to do. There were multiple times, I was left scratching my head to the point where I had to take off the headset and take a break, which is cumbersome. Loading screens are a bit on the long side (which is fitting for the name). The game isn’t really intense to begin with, so long load times doesn’t do it any favours. This wouldn’t be so bad if the puzzles were challenging, but they’re not. I’m usually stuck in areas where I cannot find the volume controls on a record player when I am asked to raise the volume or find a card on a desk in with coordinated in a room with dozens of desks with items on them. I got stuck due to bad game design. I don’t feel smart or dumb for working them out, so there is no sense of achievement. The game offers a help button that can be used anytime, but the buttons couldn’t be any less helpful… they basically tell you what you already know.
There were times where I did not not know what I was doing or what I had to do. Continuously taking off my headset to find a solution can be frustrating.
None of this would be a problem IF the game wasn’t priced as high as it is AND it wasn’t episodic. Seriously, it’s $69.95AUD and it’s the first chapter of a trilogy. So, you are going to have theoretically fork out $210.00AUD to play the whole damn game. No thanks, I’ll spend my money elsewhere.
Reviewed on PSVR