Cliche, but in a good way
Say what you will about Elon Musk, but his ideas about space are certainly…interesting. Indentured servants, tourism for the hyper rich and colonising the Red Planet may seem a bit dystopian, although given the fact that Earth is going to be uninhabitable at some point soon-ish, at least he’s doing something to get us off this big blue rock. That something may be chthonian, criminal and/or racist, and seeing as he’s not exactly doing wonders for Twitter, it also probably won’t work, however that’s a problem for future society. On a lighter note, though, though, it’s also the problem that Hubris addresses, which is also (pause for dramatic effect) interesting.
The VR exclusive title throws you into the spacesuit of an agent in the 1984-sounding Order of Objectivity. After humanity abandoned our home here on Earth, they (or we, I guess) took to the stars and developed a Mass Effect-esque existence in the universe. Planets far, far away have been terraformed, an anti-Utopian government has been set up, and when things go awry on a pleasure planet, you’re tasked with investigating both it and the powers that “accidentally” screwed things up over the course of a medium-length campaign. To do that, you need to navigate an abandoned space station, go tête à tête with a variety of aliens and figure out what sort of funky things not-Elon Musk has been doing in the distant future.
Oi, does anyone have an aspirin?
And, for the most part, all these things are interesting and engaging. While Hubris’ story isn’t especially unique, and more or less follows the plotlines of games like Dead Space or the more recent The Callisto Protocol, it is cool to experience it all in virtual reality. There’s enough social commentary in its plot, too, to justify my pompous sounding introduction, and even though the narrative does often border on the cliche, that’s not exactly terrible because the game is in relatively uncharted territory for virtual reality.
For better, not worse, the same can’t be said for its gameplay, which is where Hubris truly comes into its own. To get around its varied environments, you need to run, climb, swim and shoot, and all these things feel absolutely fantastic. Unlike in, say, Boneworks, the movement specifically is fluid and makes great use of haptic feedback and the fact that you actually need to move your arms around to maneuver in the Oasis. Similarly, the shooting in the game is relatively rudimentary, but there’s a good variety of guns and goo-filled goons to gun down. You’re also able to craft upgrades to the tools of your non-terrestrial trade, and the bulk of Hubris’ obligatory puzzles involve some time at a 3D printer, which means there’s rarely time to get bored in the title’s mostly linear storyline.
Admittedly that would be difficult even if Hubris’ gameplay wasn’t generally great because of its fantastic visuals, which are undoubtedly the title’s main selling point. Assuming your computer can run the game on one of the higher graphical presets, it looks absolutely stunning. 3D rendered space will never not be cool, but in Hubris, it’s especially phenomenal because of the aforementioned variety of baddies and environments. Seeing the planet you’re tasked with saving for the first time in virtual reality, or encountering a new alien species, has the same wow factor that sold however many million copies of No Man’s Sky. It would be an overstatement to say that this alone justifies the game’s relatively lofty pricetag, but it’s still one of the more unique experiences on virtual reality that’s absolutely worth experiencing.
For as great as this, and the game’s movement, are, though, it needs to be noted that playing Hubris can and will cause motion sickness. The problem has plagued the platform since the invention of virtual reality way back when, but it’s especially bad in this title because of how fast and fluidly you move around. There are ways to mitigate the issue, and we suggest trying to play the game while seated as that’s how we got through parts of it, but it’s still worth considering especially if your VR sea legs have been sitting in a box somewhere for a few months.
However, seeing as nobody can blame Hubris’ developers for feeling sick after playing, the game as a whole can be described as ostensibly great. Although its narrative is often cliche, the same can’t be said for its fantastic movement systems and gorgeous graphics, which makes the entire experience, well, worth experiencing. The price of admission here is steep, and nobody’ll be calling it a system seller like they did Half Life: Alyx, but it’s still a fun title that’s not only engaging in the immediate sense, but properly sets up what will hopefully be a saga of hopefully similarly scintillating entries in a fun franchise.
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