The best part about Robinson: The Journey is that it’s not a standard virtual reality experience that leaves you standing in one spot, flailing your arms.
One of Crytek’s first forays into virtual reality comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a title by the developer: breathtaking sights and an interesting premise. While the location, the distant planet Tyson III, and its dinosaur populace are always a wonder to behold, this science-fiction puzzle game relies on the recurrence of old tricks far too often for anyone to wholly enjoy.
Playing as marooned child named Robin, you’re left to your own devices on a distant, alien planet. Aided by a friendly AI system named HIGS – who, as tradition demands, is British and programmed to be uppity — alongside a baby tyrannosaurus named Laika, you’re tasked to uncover the mysteries of your isolation. While Crytek presented this in an effective way in pre-release marketing, the end result just falls a little flat. The interesting setup too quickly becomes a sci-fi job simulator, using Robin’s handy TK tool to push and pull objects around like a watered-down version of Portal… except with uninspired puzzles.
The Journey’s enigmas can be frustrating beyond belief. There are two main sets: power node redistribution and ‘take rubbish and stick it on a thing to make it work’. Both are equally as annoying as the other, with little direction and much repetition happening at the same time. The puzzles pad things out, and alongside the ability to scan flora and fauna for a database, seem to exist to pad the experience out and keep it from being a simple walking simulator. The latter would have been better; rock climbing and zip-lines sequences proved to be among the most exhilarating offered.
A solid ending and the ability to get up close and personal with dinosaurs is Robinson’s saving grace, but it’s a bit of a slog to get to those bits. Robinson showed a great deal of promise, but ended up much like any other VR game in this launch window. You’ll be amazed by the sights until they become commonplace. Then, you’ll get frustrated by controls and ultimately, start to count down the minutes until you’re finished with it.
This was the virtual reality experience Crytek had to make in so many ways; before the wonder that was Crysis, the developer made a tech demo called X-Isle Dinosaur Island. Like that offering, Robinson: The Journey provides the means to understand the lay of the land. Now, we just need that newfound knowledge put to good use so we can experience something more engaging.