VirtuaVerse Review – Doing Whatever it Takes
Developer: Theta Division
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Blood Music
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Point-and-click adventures are a rare breed in the flood of modern video game releases. However, if you look hard enough, you’re sure to find some hidden gems that will leave a lasting impression. That’s how I came across the Theta Division-developed VituaVerse. And I’m glad I did because its beautiful cyberpunk design was a great backdrop to the game’s thought-provoking point-and-click elements.
VituaVerse introduces us to Nathan. No, he’s not some hero destined to save the world or out on a quest to bring justice to his neighborhood. Instead, he just woke up to discover that his VR glasses are broken, and his girlfriend, Jay, is missing. That first puzzle is simple, make it out of the house after your girlfriend changed the code on you to slow you down from following her.
The story evolves as you get things done. Sooner or later, you’ll fix your glasses and find your girlfriend only to find out that she’s a part of this underground gang who aims to spark a digital revolution. It’s way more complicated than that, but I think the way the story unfolds shouldn’t be spoiled.
The problem with all of this is how Nathan goes about getting what he wants. In order to do small tasks, he steals, cheats, and even has someone murdered if only to get inches closer to his goal. The believability of it all kind of fades as somehow his girlfriend was doing all of this hacker gang stuff behind Nathan’s back. I think the story gets far too flimsy and unrelatable, so looking at it under a microscope will only ruin the experience. I just feel like there had to be a better way for Nathan and Jay to have a relationship instead of them being boyfriend and girlfriend.
The developers got really creative here with how Nathan progresses the narrative. Where some point-and-click adventures have you complete areas one by one and never return to them, VituaVerse allows you to travel between them and use the various tools collected in each. This introduces an entirely new layer of solving puzzles since you aren’t confined to one screen.
That said, VituaVerse gets somewhat cryptic and requires you to remember pretty much a lot of what NPCs say. For example, at one point, a shop owner said he was on the computer, and it looked like a dating site, well later down the line you need something from him, so you go on the dating site to get blackmail info on him to acquire the item. However, when it first came up in conversation it wasn’t a huge realization; it was just something briefly mentioned.
The issue with this confusion is that it could have all been avoided using the game’s digital watch that acts as a journal but is totally useless. I wish the developers used this journal to keep track of character profiles and where you are in the game or your progress towards finishing a puzzle.
For instance, two characters mentioned that I should speak with people outside for more info, and then I couldn’t trigger that conversation again to see if I missed something. I was left wondering around aimless until I realized that random people walked in the foreground of the screen. Well, there’s one person that has the answers you’re looking for, but she shows up the lease often. Had there been a note in my journal that says, “I should ask those random people outside questions about gangs,” I would have saved 30 minutes. I would have also liked it if the VR glasses did a little more like show you items that you can interact with. Instead, they only show you holograms.
Cryptic puzzle design aside, VituaVerse is brilliant in its concept. The game pushes you to think outside the box of point-and-click adventure norms. You’re forced to dissect events and break them apart to understand what really needs to be done. However, the number of items you have in your inventory is vast, which makes organization impossible.
Nathan must have a ton of pockets because he can hold dozens of items at any given time. Things become less manageable after some items you collect in the first 30 minutes won’t be needed until the second hour. It makes things feel extremely unorganized when trying to line up your items with the puzzles at hand.
VituaVerse is a beautiful game with fantastic set pieces and impressive environments to explore. This is important given that you might be spending a lot of time in some of these sections. The themes of the environment also vary enough to make it feel like you aren’t continually searching through the same areas. I really enjoyed how Nathan interacted with the NPCs and how they were each unique to the story.
Music is also a massive plus. Each track is blasting with retro synth waves that fuel the adventure. I should mention that there were times where the music would cut out on me randomly, but it only happened once or twice.
VituaVerse is an incredibly challenging point-and-click adventure that is targetted towards lovers of the genre. This allows the game to feature more complex puzzle designs, which will put a player’s skills to the test. There’s a real lack of direction as the developer doesn’t fully take advantage of the features that they have, but that ends up adding to the satisfaction of getting through a complicated puzzle.
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