I think it’s cyberpunk month or something, as it feels like that’s all I’ve been playing of late. Cloudpunk was a minor disappointment, but I had high hopes for VirtuaVerse. It’s a game I actually first saw on Reddit, but I absolutely loved the art style and had to get in touch with the devs, who were kind enough to grant me access to give their game a whirl.
I’m going to start where I always do with pixel art games: the graphics. VirtuaVerse has some of the best graphics and general presentation of any indie game I’ve seen. It’s detailed and deep, with every part of the screen being occupied with something that is there to intrigue and interest you. A vast array of cyberpunk themed colours spread across the screen, forming a gorgeous world with just a hint of terrifying depression creeping in too. It really sets the scene well, of a dreadful future reality wherein everyone is free to be a slave to technology.
Coupled with the graphics is the other side of the presentation, some absolutely phenomenal music. I’d say the game is worth the money just for the soundtrack if I’m being honest. It has some of the best tracks for each and every world and it adds so much to the adventure, playing through and being accompanied by some really epic music. The best part is that half way through the game, there’s a concert from “the last band playing live”, and it has a phenomenal song playing throughout.
On the whole, the puzzles are pretty fun. There are a lot of items for you to pick up and try to interact with to make things happen, and some objects have absolutely no purpose beyond a funny line or two, which I did enjoy. Watching the main character stick a tall ladder into his coat pocket especially gave me a chuckle. In amongst the good puzzles though, there are a handful of really bad ones that are quite obnoxious and offer little or no explanation, which slightly detracted from the game as a whole.
VirtuaVerse has a pretty intriguing core story concept, but it is overloaded with clichés and throwaway moments that appear significant, but actually aren’t. Probably the best example of a moment that looked like it should actually mean something is right at the start, where through your actions, someone gets murdered. This should surely have some effect on the player, or on the world around you, but no. You go to his corpse, nick his ID, someone comments on him dying and that’s it. You’re a murderer, and nobody cares. The worst part to that, is that I didn’t really care either.
At no point in VirtuaVerse was I ever invested in the characters or the story behind it, because it seems like the writers wanted to crowbar as many tropes, stereotypes and inside jokes as they could into the game. I assume this was to give ‘hardcore’ point and click adventure players a laugh when they were playing through, but more often than not, it just fell flat. I couldn’t take any of it seriously, because none of the characters did. It was just a long slog towards a finale that really didn’t resonate with me at all.
The Final Word
VirtuaVerse has lovely presentation and core idea, but it’s let down by poor execution. It wasn’t a total let down though, because for the most part the puzzles are pretty fun and the interactions with everything in the world is also pretty enjoyable, and there are some good lines in amongst all the clichés.