How We Soar first snagged my interest with it’s interesting graphical style. Huge paper-craft dioramas floating in space soaked in bright reds and greens being explored on a huge construction paper phoenix. From as far back as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated with flight. Now VR is giving us the ability to fly — not only in planes or spaceships, but as actual birds. 7 year old me is smiling ear to ear.
The experience isn’t all just exploring interesting vistas, instead How We Soar tells the story of a young writer battling to tell his stories while keeping his strained relationships together. This wasn’t the type of story that I expected here, I actually wasn’t expecting any story let alone one that made me think, but I found myself quickly being pulled in.
The gameplay in How We Soar consists of you flying through different coloured rings on your phoenix. Each set of rings that you “complete” will cause some construction in the world. Paper folds and twists to build up desks, trees, houses or more. Periodically these sets of rings will cause a coloured orb to appear in the world. To “complete” the level you’ll have to hunt down all of these coloured orbs and catch the resulting bird that is released by doing so. In the first few levels you’ll only have one colour of rings/orbs to worry about, but as you progress you unlock a colour for each of the face buttons on the Dualshock controller. Hitting the circle, triangle, cross or square will let you know how many orbs are remaining for that colour. Collect all of the birds and release them in the scene and you’ll unlock the portal to the next level.
Flying close to the paper-craft elements in the levels will “paint” them. While this isn’t a necessary step from a story standpoint, there are trophies tied in to doing this on each level. Your world will turn from the boring brown cardboard to the bright saturated colours I saw in some of the pre-release screenshots. I found myself wanting to paint all of the cool looking objects just to see what they really looked like. I ended up venturing back into earlier levels after completing the game just to get those painter trophies. It was a nice addition that added in some replayability for me.
Controlling my phoenix was a dream. You can speedup or slowdown with the controller’s triggers, you’ll find yourself swooping and diving through the rings in no time. I did find that my bird’s top speed was a little low and that the wings of my ride were always popping on the screen as they flapped. I’m guessing that both of these were designed to help curb any motion sickness that the player may have experienced. The controls work great and were easy to pick up for everyone who played this title in my house.
As you make your way through the game’s levels you’ll be presented with the narrator telling his story while all of the paper-craft dioramas are created in front of your eyes. When the levels started to feel a little too same-y for me things changed drastically in the design of the worlds and kept the game fresh. I won’t spoil anything here, but at one point my jaw dropped.
Overall I quite enjoyed my time with How We Soar. It’s not a high-octane flight sim by any stretch, nor is it trying to be that game, instead what you end up with is a fun and relaxing soar through the a colourful world. A game that allows you to play out your childhood dreams of being a bird in the sky, what more could you ask for?
- The joy of flight without the stress!
- Fun little story played out with paper-craft dioramas.
- The awe you feel in the later levels.
- The top speed of the bird is a little low.
- Objects far in the distance tend to be quite blurry.
I played a digital copy of How We Soar that was provided by Penny Black Studios. If you have any questions on our review scale please see our About page.
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