Summer Lesson is Boring and Stupid [PlayStation VR Preview]

September 21, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

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What a letdown.

Summer Lesson tasks you with teaching language lessons to some dipshit named Allison who talks to you su…u…u…per slo…ooo…w like you just came out of a fucking coma. Well my coma days are years behind me, Allison, so start talking to me like I’m a person and I’m alive. Summer Lesson isn’t virtual reality, it’s virtually insulting.

To begin with, the VR version looked visually craptastic. On the TV screen, things looked nice, clean, smooth, detailed. But with the headset on, no matter how much adjusting — done by booth attendants or done by myself — it always looked like ass.

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We wiped the screen clean, we tightened belts, loosened belts, adjusted them, adjusted the headset every which way; the sad fact was, with that headset on, this looks like you’re playing a movie on a projector pointed art your bedroom wall. You can’t unsee all the little flaws. In a game/tech demo where the immersion is the whole point, that’s a huge problem. The other PlayStation VR games/tech demos I played didn’t have this issue.

It starts with the classic “Oh! I didn’t notice you there!” Funny as it is to see cutting-edge technology cling to outdated interaction techniques, it was also weird because this took place, like, behind the house where she’s staying. Does this thing imply that my recovering comatose ass doesn’t even knock or yell “Hello” before just waltzing onto the property of someone I’ve never met?

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So… when… play… got… underway… the… slow-talking… Allison started chatting me up, telling me about how she wants to learn Japanese and stuff, and starts calling me “sensei,” which was more than a little bit patronizing, since I even answered “No” when she asked if I was her teacher. That’s a pursuit too noble for a jerk like me.

And that’s all this was. She walked slothlike around while I sat idle, unable to explore the environment. I could look freely with the headset, but couldn’t walk anywhere — there was no controller support or ability for me to do anything other than answer yes-or-no questions, the answers to which didn’t really affect much. While I would have loved to examine the sunflowers, the beach, the watermelon, or the house itself, I was chained to the conversational equivalent of Randy Newman.

There was a point when I was asked what I wanted to do, and had three options laying around instead of a yes or no. Later, Allison asked me to help her with something from her Japanese book, which I read aloud because a crowd had gathered around me, and they deserved to know The Deal. Allison read a sentence, and it was correct, so I answered “yes” when she asked my approval. I mean she’s not real but I can’t just lie to the girl, can I? Heath does the right thing.

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I didn’t get to meet Allison’s Japanese counterpart.

Ever tried to read in a dream? That shit is hard, so it was neat to have a book placed in front of me with real, legible text. However, I sadly know that this is not the bulk of Summer Lesson, as it wasn’t even a huge moment in the demo.

Finally, exhausted by having asked her teacher a whole question, Allison decided the day’s lesson was over. She asked me if I’d seen her guitar pick. I had. It was right the fuck in front of me. It was bright purple laying on a background of light gray. I stared right at it. I cried out, “It’s right there.” I pointed with my hand. I looked with my eyes, my allegedly powerful eyes, but Allison didn’t react at all. Something like 17 hours later, an option finally appeared right in front of her guitar pick.

It was pretty much “look here to show her the pick,” which was frustrating because I had stared right at it practically the whole time, but the option didn’t appear forever. Summer Lesson puts you on rails that lead straight to Stupid Square… on the slowest train possible.

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