Green Hell VR Review (Oculus Rift S)
Making – and subsequently buying – any VR game seems like such a necessary risk. For one thing, those of us who’ve spent the money on a VR headset actually want to play it, so keeping a close (and perhaps even less critical) eye on games much less built for the medium becomes a way to make that initial hardware investment worth it. On the other hand, VR games always feel like they have their place, so even when we find an interesting one, there’s always a chance that it makes us nauseous or has some weird bugs that its flat counterparts would never know.
Then there are the VR versions of the flat versions (on, uh…platforms?) – I mean, yeah, I expected that Skyrim VR happen, but it’s because I expected Skyrim Blackberry, Skyrim Alexa, Skyrim Pregnancy Test…you got the idea. But others like Alien Isolation, Serious Sam, Resident Evil, and particularly surgeon simulator were games that maybe I should have seen coming, but for some reason they just didn’t. And for the most part they work just fine, but if you’re not 1000% sold on VR (or if you’re like me and just bought a VR headset specifically for the beat the saber mode of Bass Hunter’s DotA in expert mode), you kind of have to be sold twice on the VR version of any flat game. Like, yes, a game could be fantastic on PC, but do I really want to pay for the game again for a platform that I have to get out of its special case, wait an hour for the three dots to disappear, then wrestle with audio issues while convincing the headset that I do indeed have a solid foundation? Is there a game that really justifies this monumental puzzle that makes me want to do this dance in the meantime beat the saber mods to fix between updates?
To be honest, I may have found my answer in VR green hell.
Originally developed and self-published by Creepy Jar for non-VR platformsIncuvo took the lead RV Ports (yes, there are several), continuing the tradition of developing and self-publishing the title. Originally inviting players to “immerse yourself in the open-world survival simulation in the extreme conditions of the unexplored Amazon jungle” in 2D sounds stressful enough already, so ramping up the immersion factor isn’t just one of those things to see for yourself, but, if done correctly, follows the surefire win strategy for VR gaming , who is “make people so immersed in this virtual world that even near-scary things are incredibly terrifying.” Green Hell VR embodies this formula so well in such a memorable way that I now have a whole new kind of bad dream to look forward to every night.
To quickly sum up, green hell (both flat and VR) is a 5% story, 95% survival game set in the Amazon rainforest – a land simultaneously teeming with an incredible amount of biodiversity but completely inhospitable to people who venture without any preparation. People like you, by the way, because despite all your careful planning, you somehow found yourself in this rich jungle teeming with all kinds of life while struggling to hold on to your own. You have no food, no supplies, no shelter, and no foreseeable way out – just a walkie-talkie with a familiar voice on the other end acting as your guide. Maybe you will succeed? Or maybe the real victory is through all the deaths we’ve had along the way. As a wise man once said, “You never really win this game, you just do a little better each time.”
Yeah no actually that’s how you end up playing (and beating) Green Hell (VR or otherwise) – dying all the time. You will be tempted to pick up all the pretty frogs because oooooh colors! But wouldn’t you know, those colors mean poison, and last time I checked, poison is bad. And even though I thought it would be, I couldn’t resist picking up all the frogs I found and putting them in my backpack because it was absolutely hilarious to me for some reason (a immersive frog poison getting me high? IDK).
But wouldn’t you know, I learned something when it happened. I learned that you don’t have to lick the frog to die from it, just touch it, which will cause your vision to slowly blur and fade into nothingness before eventually fainting and dying. die of it. So the next time I reloaded, I decided I was going to… do this again (listen, those are really cute frogs). But the third time I started again, I did not do this, because even though the frogs were still so pretty this time around, I knew I would die again. Learning!
And that’s kinda the general way of doing it VR green hell, only the unsettling sense of danger lurking around every corner or being watched from afar that was felt in the OG version is like, pushed to an 11. Even though nothing is actually there, you you are much less alone in this world than in other VR Games because you are in a forest. You are there THE forest. So you’ll be running around looking for resources like sticks and leaves to make camp when you come across something else you didn’t know existed before, like ants biting your exposed legs or a coiled-up rattlesnake. and ready to pounce. And that’s terrifying because, as you’ll learn, any number of things that make noise or crawl around unseen are likely to kill you, such as scorpions, wild boars, stingrays, or even natives. If you are lucky, you can avoid them; if not… well, hope you’ve been saving up lately. You will die often, and that death will feel very real to a primitive part of your brain.
For example, as you may know from being alive, you need to eat and drink occasionally to stay that way. In the flat version of green hell, there’s a general feeling of apathy about trying things and if you die then uh, whatever, you’ll just reload and do better next time. But VR is able to remove that barrier between player and character, so watching your thirst and hunger drop to zero because you were too scared to try to drink from a nearby water source is stressful. The fish swimming gracefully under the water lilies look delicious, but the leeches lurking in the water find you delicious, which will make you both virtual and really extremely painful. The stakes always seem a bit higher in VR games regardless of genre, but I dare say a survival game like VR green hell reminds me why VR was even created in the first place.
So there are many ways to play green hellincluding 2 ways to play VR green hell — PCVR and Quest 2 (PSVR planned for 2023). This is where the differences between the ports get interesting: Quest 2 provides a lite version of the game, while PCVR sticks pretty closely to the flat experience. This is felt in three main ways: story, map, and crafting. Quest 2 players are reporting a more streamlined story, smaller map, and simpler crafting, while PCVR players can expect something closer to the Creepy Jar original. What is better? It’s honestly a personal preference, and polarizing at that. if Steam reviews are any indication. To each his own.
What I can say is, if your graphics settings allow it, you can expect a beautifully immersive experience that’s perfectly suited to the platform. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to stop and watch the sun shine through the palm fronds as the birds took flight and the capybaras meandered through the underbrush. And I had an embarrassing time taking an object in each hand and slamming them together because I loved the sounds they made. Sure, there’s quite a bit of nonsense here and there (backpaaaaaack), but I feel like it’s part of the VR package (360° coding invites all sorts of weird bugs, that’s fine). The fantastic survival mechanics push the uniquely compelling story further, as less time spent between storybeats means fewer opportunities for death to strike in the form of spiders, jaguars, fall damage, starvation, or adorable frogs. Anxiety and fear are palpable, brewed in a setting human enough to make sense of the world but alien enough to feel lost, confused and vulnerable. And this Ayahuasca scene? in VR? Hell. Fucking. Yeah.
VR green hell is the kind of game that will remind you why you bought a VR headset in the first place. It has so much to offer gamers who love survival games, and the PCVR version is the closest of the two existing VR ports of the PC original for those who care about that sort of thing. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in an Amazon rainforest and see if you can make it out alive – or just want to take in the beauty that virtual nature has to offer, transfixed by the soft lighting and distinctive atmosphere – VR green hell will put your survival skills to the ultimate test.
Final verdict: 4/5
Available on: Quest, PCVR (revised); Publisher: Incuvo; Developer: Incuvo; Players: 1; Released: June 9, 2022; MSRP: $24.99
Editor’s Note: This review is based on a digital copy of Green Hell VR provided by the publisher.