The PlayStation VR release date has finally arrived, and by far the game I was most looking forward to experiencing for myself was Owlchemy Lab’s Job Simulator. Set in a future time where people visit Job Museums to see how us plebeians got by in doing our mundane jobs, Job Simulator brings us the fun of being an auto mechanic, short order cook and more. You might think that this is a crazy idea for a game, and you are correct. It’s the best kind of crazy.
Being an early fan-favourite title for the HTC Vive and its room-scale Job Simulator, I wondered how the PSVR version would fare. While the PSVR system gives you some limited freedom of motion, it’s nowhere near as flexible as the Vive would be. To compensate for this (you can only move a few feet in each direction compared to the Vive’s 5″x7″ for recommended area) Owlchemy has modified the stages that were created for the Vive, shrinking and crunching them down. Where you would have an extra shelf of goodies on the Vive, you instead have a toggle to open up a new storage area. This works surprisingly well and everything you’ll need in each level is just a quick lean away. Things do tend to feel a bit claustrophobic at times, but I was able to acclimate myself to the stage sizes quickly.This game isn’t trying to be a photo-real representation of the job site; instead we get to play in a smaller hyper-coloured version of reality. I think that this style works perfectly with the tone of the game and the fact that you are in a simulation within a simulation. A simpler look and feel also allows the game to be rendered with a crisp frame rate that remained steady for me. I wasn’t able to discern any frame rate drops, even when I was making quick jerky movements. This is one of the strengths of the PSVR that I admire most as I’ve had some vomit inducing frame rate drops with other VR headsets. On top of the bright and colourful design Owlchemy added in some dry humour that caps things off nicely. Thanks Portal for making this style of comedy commonplace in games, it really works well.
One aspect of VR that is hard to describe is “presence”. I’ve heard it said in many reviews and many podcasts, but I never managed to experience it until playing this title. I noticed little things like trying to lean on the convenience store counter (thankfully catching myself before an epic fall), and the ability to just grab things from beside me without looking. I get it now. It takes a few moments for my brain to recalibrate after taking off the headset after a long Job session. Even with the simplified graphics my brain was sufficiently tricked.
The levels themselves, 4 in total, consist of a collection of tasks that you have to complete in any way you choose. Need a new battery for the car that just drove in? Pop the old potato battery out and drop in some solar cells or even some plutonium. Need to make a sandwich? You can stack up whatever you want and as long as you top it with an olive you are golden. It’s these loose requirements that make the game hilarious when playing in a group. People shouting out things to try or just laughing at the huge stream of vomit when you drink some headlight fluid… so much fun.
I did have some minor issues with nausea in this title that I didn’t anticipate. The last game I thought would make me sick was a game with little actual movement. It seems like either the current PS4 or PSVR firmware version has some issues with tracking. Randomly I would start the game only to have the whole play area lurch around randomly. One play session gave me the telltale cold sweats of VR nausea minutes in while standing at the level select computer. I did find a work around though; completely power off your PS4 and restart before jumping into the game! Doing this before each play session totally removed any and all nausea. It’s an annoyance, but I’m thinking this is more of a PS4 issue than a Job Simulator issue.
One thing to note is that even though I have a large collection of VR games sitting on my PS4, this is practically the only title that my kids want to play. My two are 9 and 10 (yep I know, I’m a rebel for not following the onscreen directions about minimum ages), and they would rather Learn To Job instead of flying in space or becoming The Batman. The silliness of this title is just too much for them. It’s actually quite hilarious to watch my shorter daughter having to jump and reach into things she can barely see. I know that I can adjust the floor height, but she wants to be a kid in a candy store. Amazing to watch.
VR has been a game changer for me even as someone who has been playing games for the better part of 35 years. I have a hard time jumping into “regular” games now. My PS4 XMB is filled with games that I no longer want to play… unless they are in the VR games folder I created. I hope that Job Simulator is just the tip of the iceberg for fun and silly experiences we will be having in the VR space. It’s now the first game I show friends who come over to check out VR, leaping ahead of Batman Arkham VR and the Playroom.
I’m hoping for some DLC in the future, or even Job Simulator 2. I need Learn to Job at some other vocations. Make it happen Owlchemy!
- Total sense of presence once I settled in.
- The humour is great.
- The kid’s love it!
- VR sickness when tracking goes awry.
- A little on the short side
I played a copy of Job Simulator that was personally purchased. If you have questions about our review scale please see our About page.
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