Kismet Review – The Future Is Now (PSVR)
A fun part of any new hardware launch is seeing the intriguing new ways that developers utilize the technology. The PlayStation VR has now been graced with the likes of VR movies, full digital theaters, and VR focused upgrades to existing applications like Hulu. However, never did I even begin to imagine that the PSVR would become the exclusive console home of fortunetelling. And yes, you read that right: fortunetelling. Just when you think developers are running low on ideas, a title like Psyop’s Kismet comes out of left field and completely resets your expectations.
Channel the Beyond
Have you ever had the random urge to call a psychic chat line or visit your local gypsy? No? Me neither. That said, I am sure that there is someone out there that has fought off this urge in the name of saving themselves $5.99 a minute. So what if you could instead invest that money into a new PSVR experience and spare your nostrils from being assaulted by the rancid aroma of patchouli oil and regret? Kismet is here to fill that void, while also confirming that same gaping maw in your heart. I mean, wouldn’t you rather hear bad news about your future from a fake disembodied voice, rather than some random homeless transient? Thank goodness for technology!
As far as relative non-gaming experiences go, Kismet has to be one of the most random releases in recent memory. The software features three modes: a tarot reading, an astrological sign analysis and a mini-board game. It is just as bare-bones as you might imagine, only presented in a fantastical manner thanks to the assistance of virtual reality. Upon selecting one of these three options, the user (I don’t dare use the term “player” here.) is whisked away to a different location, far from the confines of the makeshift trailer where this digital gypsy resides.
Once the new setting has been established, it’s high time to get down to the hard work of conjuring the powers of the beyond. For the tarot reading, the user selects three cards from a deck, representing the past, present and future. These cards will then be read back aloud, with their significance being explained in light detail. Don’t expect any real depth, because much like real readings, they are far more effective (and more likely to be perceived as accurate) if they are left open to the interpretation of the person behind the controller.
Instead of turning to your local newspaper of choice’s horoscope section, why not instead let a not-quite-human approximation regurgitate it back to you? After entering into what appears to be a different astral plane and then providing your birthday, the software goes to work summoning guidance for your life. Once again, don’t expect any earth shattering revelations to come your way, because if it were that good, why would it only be selling for $6.99?
The last piece of this clairvoyant expedition into the unknown is Kismet’s one true gaming component: the board game. In this game of chance, players face off against the fortune teller, in a race to get all of their button game pieces from one end of the course to the other. Though there is a very slight amount of logic that could be associated with the mini-game, it essentially ends up distilling down to a race that’s outcome is determined by a random dice roll. This is nothing to be excited about, aside from the bragging rights you get for beating the computer at a game that wasn’t even deserving of its own release. Sure, that may be a bit harsh, but let’s face it, gamers are hardly this product’s target audience.
Minimal Product, Maximal Quality
Despite Kismet’s very blatant “one trick pony” nature, the one thing that still weighs heavily in its favor are the outstanding production values. While other PSVR releases seem to lose sight of the fact that VR offers up a whole new set of presentation options, Kismet embraces the capabilities of the new hardware. The atmosphere that it manages to generate when switching between modes and the flare that it utilizes when sharing the results of each reading are done in a way that would only be possible, not to mention effective, in virtual reality. Additionally, even though the narrator tends to lean a bit hard on the aging mystic gimmick, when it is combined with the stellar presentation, it ultimately ends up feeling far more convincing than it has any right to be.
I think it goes without saying that Kismet is not for me. It lacks virtually any element that would appeal to a traditional gamer demographic. However, for what it is attempting to be, the software is a genuinely unique interactive experience, that makes great use of the PlayStation VR. So as much as it may shock even me, this entry-level use of a budding technology might actually be worth checking out. It is high time that you learn what the future has in store.
Review code for Kismet provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.