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Comfortable zero-g gameplay makes Downward Spiral: Horus Station a treat for VR newcomers

Downward Spiral: Horus Station. That’s hardly a name that just rolls off the tongue, is it?

Dodgy title aside, Downward Spiral is a surprisingly comfy, zero-gravity space exploration game and you can watch me play through the first act in the video below. Although when I say play I really mean, ‘bounce around the scenery making immature jokes about bodily functions for 25 minutes’.

Basically a standard episode of Ian’s VR Corner then…

Downward Spiral: Horus Station has been out for about a month on PC headsets but the PSVR version that I demo in the video above isn’t due out until later this week.

The setup here is similar to Detached, which is another space-based game I recently featured on IVC. The big difference here though is that while the zero-g escapades in Detached made me want to detach the food from my stomach, Downward Spiral managed to make an almost identical experience feel completely comfortable.

I’m going to put this triumph down to the control scheme rather than any comfort settings because Downward Spiral has the bare minimum of those. How both games differ is that movement in Detached was achieved via the DualShock controller, using a control scheme similar to old-school 6DoF shooters. Downward Spiral on the other-hand asks players to propel themselves forward by grabbing hold of the scenery, just like real life astronauts might do when traversing a spacecraft.

This physical movement creates the illusion that you really are propelling yourself forward through space and I think that’s just enough to convince your brain that there’s no weird disconnect going on.

Even with your helmet-mounted torch turned on, Downward Spiral can be a very dark game.

Downward Spiral can of course also be played with a DualShock but it’s at its most immersive when you use two Move controllers so you can control both arms independently, something that comes in incredibly useful once you start dual wielding tools and weapons.

Your main tool, a grappling hook, attaches to surfaces and items allowing you to close the gap between both much faster than if you were using just your arms. Combat wise, there’s plenty of hostile drones to shoot down but these can be turned off if you’d prefer an experience based purely on exploration.

Even with the robo-skirmishes I wouldn’t say Downward Spiral is the most exciting VR game I’ve ever played though. It is nicely atmospheric (something that the wonderfully sinister soundtrack helps towards) but the cookie cutter enemies and the plodding pace might not be enough to hold the attention of a VR veteran.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s also the option to play through the game in co-op, which is something I wasn’t able to test during my short play session. I’m going to presume this would liven the proceedings up a touch though because players would, quite literally, have someone else to bounce off.

Overall, Downward Spiral is an enjoyable zero-g experience that should allow VR sensitive users to experience the joys of spacewalks with minimal discomfort. It’s not the most exhilarating of VR games to say the least, but there’s definitely something to it that’s making me want to jump back in and unravel the mysteries of Horus Station.

If you enjoyed this episode of Ian’s VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I get silly with Kona VR, Salary Man Escape, The Exorcist: Legion VR, Killing Floor: Incursion, The Persistence, Detached, Pixel Ripped 1989, Rec Royale, Arizona Sunshine, Transference and Zone of The Enders 2.


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