If you can’t tell by the screenshots, WayWard Sky is a beautiful game. Visually, it’s easily one of my favorite PSVR launch titles compared to everything else I’ve played so far. It’s a world that’s bright and colorful, with it’s pastel art style and cheerful soundtrack. In the end everything comes together and oozes charm.
You control a young girl named Bess whose mother and father are pilots and adventurers, which makes Bess quite the explorer herself. We learn through one of a handful of semi-interactive cutscenes that her mother passed away, leaving Bess and her and her father flying here and there. You’ll witness quite a few of these flashbacks sprinkled throughout the game, but they don’t end up being all that impactful.
Our adventure starts when Bess and her father’s plane crashes on a mysterious floating island high in the sky above their town. After the crash as Bess and her father find their bearings, a giant security bot emerges and promptly grabs her dad and flies away, leaving young Bess alone on an island full of robots.
From here on out the gameplay expands to a point-and-click adventure primarily shown from the third person perspective. I say primarily because you’ll come across terminals with buttons, levers, switches, and more that you’ll interact with in first person view via VR. Once you complete the puzzle at the terminal, you’ll hit an exit icon and go back out to a third person view, similar to how movies cut from scene to scene. No need to worry, there are no nausea-inducing zooming camera tricks here. The game can be played with the DualShock 4, but it recommends two Move controllers; and so do I. In most cases you’ll use one Move to point-and-click and the other at times to pull a levers and twist valves. You’ll also spray down flying enemy bots with water and assemble hidden wind chimes throughout the world for reasons unknown (random, I know).
Throughout my time with WayWard Sky I was fascinated by the living diorama I was peering into. I would frequently find myself leaning in as Bess ran by me, often stopping to admire her details like her scarf blowing in the wind as she was barely inches from my face. This sense of self presence was more mesmerizing when a cutscene played out around me, and I’d often times lean in and out in real time. These conversations were happening in front of and around me. I really can’t stress enough how fucking awesome VR is. The vibrant stylized world around me felt alive.
The game’s length is on the short side, like most other PSVR games at launch, clocking in at around 2-3 hours. I wasn’t bothered by the game’s length, but I would’ve liked more fleshed out characters and a deeper story. This game reminds me of ReCore for a few reasons, neither of which are because they both star a girl and robots. Both games offer simple gameplay with an interesting story and characters that never end up developing into much of anything.
In WayWard Sky, we learn the story of a boy on the island who felt distant from his father as they toiled away on his robots, often making his son feel neglected growing up. It’s because of his resentment towards his now deceased father that he is alone on the island in the sky surrounded by hostile bots. This secondary plot is told via storybook style cutscenes that play out in front of your face, which is pretty fun. My one nitpick is that both stories wrap up fairly quickly before they feel like they’ve even begun, which is a shame because I love the lore, environments, and characters of WayWard Sky. What the game does right is know when to wrap things up before the simplistic story and gameplay becomes dull. Just when I was growing tired of flipping switches and pulling levers the game gave me the ability to control security bots and when that seemed a bit long in the tooth I was then able to blast flying enemy bots with a hose and watch them explode above me in beautiful cartoon fashion.
Having played many fantastic launch games for PSVR like Job Simulator (review here) and Superhypercube (review coming), WayWard Sky is a great little adventure that owners of Sony’s headset shouldn’t overlook, even with a somewhat shallow story and gameplay. If you’re still unsure after reading reviews you can check it out for yourself on the demo disc with PSVR on the game’s page.