If you enjoyed HBO’s sprawling Westworld, with its neo-Western blend of universes, then you’ll certainly enjoy its VR offering. Westworld Awakening was released last month (20th August to be exact) and, through the medium of VR, it has pushed the moral questioning you find in the TV show to the forefront. With every twist and turn comes a moral quandary, giving the user a deep and meaningful insight into the characters and storyline. It’s truly captivating stuff.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves already. Here’s our take on Westworld Awakening, which we’ve separated into our favourite things. Take a look!
We’re huge fans of the immersive storyline
Pretty much as soon as we started playing Westworld Awakening, we were hooked. You start the game as Kate, a participant in a fictional world who is, quite horribly, haunted by a resident host. We should mention here that the game comes with an immediate disclaimer to expect mature themes and violence. If you’re familiar with the HBO show, you’ll be well-prepped to expect these themes to crop up throughout (spoiler: they do).
So anyway, the story is immersive in a way that you rarely get with video games. Of course, VR has a lot to do with that. The feeling that you’re actually living the story through a headset forges a stronger relationship to the story than we expect any traditional console game could. You sympathise more, empathise more, the horror you feel is stronger, as are any of the other emotions Westworld Awakening throws up.
You can also expect a few different plotlines, depending on the choices you make (which we’ll get to shortly). This has become the norm for many free-roam, sandbox games as it gives the user more gametime should they want a different ending. For such a captivating first play, we love the idea that Westworld Awakening has more secrets to discover and more tricks up its sleeve.
And we love the moral mazes
The game creates multiple moral quandaries for you to mull over, and the decisions you make not only affect the growth of your character arc but also the direction of the story. From the intense horror of fending off unknown attackers, to the abject loneliness when roaming a make-believe world, you’re constantly left to your own devices in a way that feels strangely tied to reality for what is supposed to be just a ‘video game’.
Will you stand by as guests are tormented (even tortured) by villainous hosts or will you jump in? Are you willing to abandon friends, even family, if it means survival? These are just two examples of the moral questions you’re faced with in Westworld Awakening. This game is huge and it does its best to encompass a range of human emotions.
Exploring the world with intuitive gameplay
Given that it’s using VR, the creators of Westworld Awakening wanted the game to feel a world away from the traditional controller-based model of console gaming. In Westworld Awakening, exploring the world around you – whether that’s the grimy crevices of some dusty saloon or the vast, wooded wilderness where you have nothing but the moon for company – is really, really fun.
The premise is pretty simple: things like combat and taking cover you can do yourself. This really immerses you in the world of the game, and some of our favourite moments happened when we were simply taking cover – a moment of quiet suspense before a gunfight, or evading detection from a villain.
Westworld Awakening is a VR game that has arrived at a relatively early stage of VR gaming. It’s in its infancy, and yet it plays with confident slickness that just feels incredible.
Things that go bump in the night
Another disclaimer: this is a terrifying game. It’s like a mix of the Resident Evil franchise (with dead-of-night spooks, blood-chilling suspense) and blockbuster films with Hollywood-scale production. It’s equal parts terrifying and captivating, and you can’t help but look (maybe through partly-open hands).
There’s a moment at the beginning of the game where an elderly man eyeballs you. He’s really leering at you and your character freezes in terror – you’re the guest and he’s a resident ghoul who gets off on tormenting tourists. This is a sophisticated kind of frightening: all the elderly man does is look you up and down but it’s enough to send chills up your spine.
This is actually an accurate picture of how frightening Westworld Awakening is, because instead of cheap thrills you get a quiet terror that stays with you. Again – just a disclaimer! Probably best that you don’t play this at night.
Puzzle me this…
Finally, we really enjoyed the puzzles. They’re fairly basic (find a key, track a blood trail, that kind of thing) but what makes it all the better is that you have to complete the puzzles while evading a maniacal killer or a group of feral dogs. Not that easy!
The puzzles are more than just gimmicky add-ons, they’re built into the story and involve some really tough decisions that you have to take in order to survive. What’s more, the voiceovers and animation work is second-to-none. Very realistic, which consistently adds another layer of depth and significance to crucial moments.
Are you sorted for VR storage?
To conclude, we think that you should get the game. It’s going to be a true classic and one of those games that launched VR gaming itself. We’ve also got plenty of VR cases for your system – they’re made from sturdy, reliable materials.
In the meantime, stay tuned to our VR blog for the latest news and developments.