Yupitergrad Review – Oculus Quest
+ Fast, funny, and exciting swinging puzzle game.
- The swinging motions were sometimes enough to make me feel nauseous in VR.
Yupitergrad is the game that you get when you get a group of people who really want to make a game with swinging mechanics for VR that captures the feel of what it would be like to be Spider Man, but didn’t want to try and get the rights to using the Spider Man image at all. Instead, they really thought outside the box and invented their own alternate-history vision of a space-faring Soviet cosmonaut program where the way they figured out how to allow people to move around freely in Jupiter’s atmosphere was by attaching devices to both of your arms that turn your hands into suction cups attached to ropes and winches. Also, you have little jet boosters, but they’re only good for small movements in air and for moving around better underwater.
You are sent to Jupiter where there is a station that extracts gasses from the atmosphere and converts it into power. As might be expected, upon arrival, things aren’t working quite the way they’re supposed to be working. The station is in disrepair, nothing seems to be working correctly, and it seems that you are the only one around to do anything about it. What happened to the others? Who knows? They probably died trying to fix the problem, which, you will probably do a few times yourself along the way. I know I did.
The art style of Yupitergrad is very minimalistic, with surfaces being very uniformly colored in an almost cartoonish look. Blue surfaces are ones that your plunger hands are able to suction onto. There are other things that you can interact with using your plunger-guns. Yellow grates, for instance, are things that you can grapple and then pull to open, allowing you access to areas that are otherwise blocked. You can also push buttons with your suction cups.
Movement is done by alternating your arms to swing across the ceiling, attaching both cups at the same time and then pulling quickly to launch yourself very far and very fast. A combination of these two approaches is what you need to use to cross the various obstacles and puzzles that the game presents you with.
Playing in VR was quite fun and very immersive; however it did cause me to have a very strong motion-sickness type reaction that I am not used to experiencing with other VR games. I am not sure if it was just that the swinging motion caught me off guard and if I played more frequently I would get used to it, but that was my initial experience with the game as a word of warning to anyone who is prone to feeling motion-induced illness in VR games.
Aside from feeling a bit queasy, I did really enjoy the way you moved in the game, but got frustrated slightly when my character would clip with the geometry of the world and get stuck, even though I felt like I should be able to pull myself up and over an obstacle. This only happened occasionally, but it was enough to make me feel like it wasn’t as smooth as I hoped it would be.
Finding the rhythm of the swinging and learning how to control the winch of your arm by raising and lowering your arm, or by using the thumbsticks to pull the rope in or let it out to change the length of your swings was a bit of a learning curve, but after a while it began to feel very natural. I particularly enjoyed the double-stick and pull method (if that’s what it’s called…if not, that’s what it’s called now). It gives you a real sense of speed and excitement as you’re just flying through the air and then swinging again with all that momentum.
There is a campaign to the game which has a cool story that has you progressing through the station and fixing problems as you go. There is also an option to go back and replay levels to try and get fastest times with leaderboards and everything.
As far as first person swinging games go, I did enjoy Yupitergrad, particularly because it knows not to take itself seriously. Shooting suction cups at things, for some reason, never gets old. Having recently reviewed Cyber Hook, which is not a VR game (yet), I would say that this does not quite hit the same stride as Cyber Hook with regard to that feeling of speed and freedom, as most of the puzzles are in tunnels and more enclosed spaces than what you get in the other game. But, as I said before this game knows what it is and does that thing really, really well.