Playing Kokoromi’s SuperHyperCube is as easy as pushing a square block through a square hole.
Or a rectangle block through a rectangle shaped hole, or an L-shaped block through an L-shaped hole, or a knobbly, twisted Q-shaped block through an S-shaped hole. Or is that a J-shaped block? And – hang on – is the hole rotating, too?
SuperHyperCube has a familiar feel despite being one of the first games to launch on Sony’s forward looking VR platform. It’s a combination of TV show Hole in the Wall, Tetris, and those much-maligned rotational key puzzles from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
As the hole in the wall approaches you have a few precious seconds to rotate – in three dimensions – an increasingly complex cluster of cubes into the correct position to ensure smooth passage. If you succeed, your cluster grows and the process begins again. And that’s the game.
There are a few modifiers, like the ability so slow down time and occasional levels where the hole itself rotates, but the game’s core concept is as simple as can be. It might not sound like the killer app virtual reality needs, but of all PS VR’s launch titles it is perhaps the most continuously satisfying and enjoyable to play.
The game’s basic simplicity is offset by the wonderful endorphin rush you receive with each successful pass. The feeling is a mixture of relief, satisfaction and pride, swiftly followed by a sense of dread as you anticipate the next approaching wall.
The neon space that surrounds you – deliberately designed to evoke 80s motion graphics – is also simple, although it’s not without flair. It doesn’t ‘go places’ like Rez Infinite or Thumper, but it carefully treads the fine line of being beautiful and all-encompassing without being a distraction from the task at hand.
Some have argued that SuperHyperCube needn’t be a VR game at all, and although its use of the medium is subtle, it is essential in making the experience work as a game. A non-VR version – using an analogue stick to control the camera – would be possible but it would rob the game of its core pleasure; using head tracking to examine and inspect the environments at speed. This is not a title that wants to transport you somewhere else, it instead wants to use VR to do something new. Examining three-dimensional objects in three-dimensional space just feels satisfying and that’s why SuperHyperCube stands out in the PlayStation VR launch line-up. It feels good, works perfectly, and there’s no need to worry about Move controllers or the tracking vagaries found in some other launch titles.
SuperHyperCube is also the first VR game I’ve played that genuinely has that ‘one more go’ feeling, previously mastered by the likes of Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon and trusty puzzle stalwart Tetris. And, whereas most VR games leave me feeling fatigued after 20 minutes, Kokoromi’s puzzler has the much-appreciated ability to test my brain, while thankfully not troubling my stomach.
The biggest complaint is its paucity of modes. There is little to do here apart from improving your personal best, or attempting to rise up the leaderboards. However, the purity of the game’s spatial puzzle solving is so delightful that any more complexity would dilute its magic. There is a raw pleasure in just doing what needs to be done.