A lot of virtual reality titles are getting by thanks to the pure novelty of VR at launch. This has allowed simple, more wackier titles to get the spotlight, and in many cases (such as Job Simulator) these have showcased what virtual reality can do better than some fully-featured packages. They might not be something players want five years from now, but they certainly have their place in VR’s early going.
The latest game to try to capitalize on novelty is Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live, a digital concert starring Hatsune Miku. The whole concept is strangely fitting considering the vocaloid is a digital songstress. The game is available as a free download (more on that below) and players can buy DLC stages of seven songs for $15 a pop (or all of the planned three stages for $39.99).
While it’s easy to dismiss this as an “experience,” there’s enough interactivity within VR Future Live for it to firmly be a game. Players use the DualShock 4 (or a PlayStation Move controller) to wave a glowing light stick along with the music (which in turns boosts the intensity of the song) and will have to follow cues from the other audience members if they want to see various bonuses during the songs. The motions are all very simple, with the most complex being a circle instead of simply going back and forth, but it’s nice to have something to do during the performances.
While I didn’t love Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X‘s soundtrack, I have to admit that VR Future Live‘s first stage features a pretty dang good soundtrack. My favorite song from DIVA X returns as “Satisfaction” is the highlight here as well, but I really liked all of the seven songs here. Other standout tunes include “Weekender Girl,” “Love Trial,” and the game’s finale “Love Song” by Lamaze-P.
The problem here is that watching the concert unfold is just boring. The performances of these songs in the actual rhythm games features more interesting scenarios and dance routines, and it’s not like there is realism to protect considering Hatsune Miku is a hologram performing. The later songs in the four-song set (you get to choose which songs get played during the concert) get a bit more creative (and there’s even a very brief rhythm mini-game that lasts about six seconds), but it still feels like a lot of missed opportunities.
While novelty has been a main drawing point for many launch titles, they still have a solid game underneath. Novelty alone isn’t enough to purely justify a price. Games still need an interesting hook, and something for players to really enjoy doing. That’s what Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live is missing. Its novelty lasts about a single song and then you’re stuck swinging the controller around and watching a generally boring concert.
There are a few other small interactions such as being able to change your light stick into various other objects (like a stick of celery [correction: I have been informed it is a leek, not celery] for some reason and a lightsaber) and changing your seating position, but that really is all there is to Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live. You watch a pretty tame concert by an artist that could easily put on a more ridiculous show than Kanye West or Katy Perry, and then wonder why you wasted your money on it. It’s kind of crazy that this is one of the most expensive VR games at launch if you plan on buying the different stages.
The game ends with Hatsune Miku giving the player a private performance (trust me, it sounds way more exciting than it actually is). This is achieved by doing well in the concert (which comes down to occasionally making noise and shaking your controller) and isn’t particularly difficult. The player gets to choose what outfit Miku wears (I seemed to unlock one outfit each time I did a set), but even that small bit of customization doesn’t make this solo show stick out as anything special.
Hatsune Miku VR Review
Perhaps a bigger Hatsune Miku fan than I would be more enthralled by what VR Future Live offers, but I would only be more disappointed if one of my favorite artists got this treatment. There is nothing magical about this performance, and nothing is presented in this fantasy that is any more fun than an actual concert. As someone who knows how magical a live performance can be by their favorite artist, it’s disappointing to see such a humdrum one offered up here for Miku fans.
It’s also worth noting that Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live is bafflingly available as a free download on the PlayStation Store. This implies that players could do something, anything upon downloading it such as playing the tutorial or playing a free song. That isn’t the case, as it just tells the player that they don’t own any DLC and kicks them out immediately. It’s one of the very few games with no trophies on the base list, and this being free-to-download makes very little sense. Don’t bother downloading it unless you’re prepared to spend money, since otherwise it’s just taking up hard drive space.
Hardcore Hatsune Miku fans might find something redeeming here, but even then they won’t be getting much for their $15 or more they spent. Even within its limited scope of being a virtual concert, Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live is a disappointment. Much more could’ve been done with this idea, and maybe the future DLCs will do just that, but right now it’s without charm or much pizazz.
Review code for Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.