Tentacular - Not Quite Spectacular
PS VR2, SteamVR
Virtual Reality presents players with options in gaming that they’d almost consider impossibilities through traditional means. With the launch of the PS VR2, PlayStation gamers are getting their first look at a suite of games that VR users on PC have been enjoying for several months and/or years – one such title is Tentacular – a clever physics based puzzler with a big heart, and big ambition, but as it turns out, the combination of gigantic tentacles, a shot at realistic physics, VR, and a light-hearted tone, don’t quite stick like the tentacles themselves do.
Tentacular is a relatively straight forward affair… except for the fact that you’re assuming the role of an enormous tentacled creature of the deep, performing a range of jobs and engaging in a host of other silly activities with the locals. We’ve seen plenty of depictions of monstrous creatures from below the ocean wreaking havoc upon the land-dwellers, however you’re the best thing that has ever happened to this island town. Mystery surrounds your upbringing, but that falls on the backburner as you discover mysterious crystals and a buried UFO that gives you and the locals of La Kalma plenty to think about.
Being a gigantic undersea entity with two enormous tentacles creates a hilarious, but sometimes frustrating control scheme that necessitates comparison with the early PS4 title, Octodad: Daddliest Catch, which, like Tentacular presents some physics driven tasks, but puts you in control of a being who is inherently clumsy and hard to control. You tower over the town and the locals, and as such have the size and strength to do things that your pint-sized peers simply cannot. Shipping containers are an easy lift, crates, cars and other things that even we can handle with ease, become objects that you can launch into the stratosphere with a little flick of your arms. The physics behave exactly as expected, with two tentacles required for larger objects, and even grabbing ahold with your suckers at specific points assisting in the balancing act or gentle positioning. Of course, frustrations emerge due to your enormous size, and large tentacles both make nuanced positioning hard, and of course the present the possibility of knocking over your carefully positioned contraptions.
The locals need your help with a range of activities, from creating rocket propelled objects, to building defensive barriers that you can only hold together with mysterious magnet balls. Some tasks are on the mundane side, while others require exact positioning, and careful consideration for physics. Should any of the puzzles that stem from these objectives give you too many headaches, each level contains a helpful local, who is more than willing to help you by drawing up a design of a potential solution.
Tentacular does a lot of things right. It has a tonne of heart, it supports players in the puzzling aspects, is a great laugh, and is empowering in all the best ways, but for all of that, its own enormous size can get in the way and times, making for an at times infuriating experience. As a launch title for the PS VR2, it wonderfully leverages the eye-tracking, haptics, adaptive triggers, and headset vibration, but it’s own feature-set that sadly gets in its own way at times.
Tentacular was reviewed on a PS VR2 with the code kindly provided by Devolver Digital via Power Up PR