Gaming in virtual reality is currently in its infancy, and the PlayStation VR launch lineup has shown us that developers are very much learning as they go. Unlike conventional gaming there aren’t predefined rules of what works and what falls flat, so we’re already seeing different developers take vastly different approaches to different problems.
One of the biggest challenges has been movement, as first-person games with analog control have made players extremely sick (looking at you Here They Lie and Resident Evil VII). Untold Games, the developer behind first-person adventure title Loading Human, have come up with a pretty interesting way to deal with it even if I wouldn’t call it ideal. Using two PlayStation Move controllers, players move by pointing the controller either forward or backwards) and pressing the Move button. Yes, to take a step back, you have to point the controller over your shoulder.
That control scheme is as awkward as it seems, and the ability to shift your stance (by pressing the move button on the other PlayStation Move controller) makes it even more convoluted. Despite a rather long introductory section that is built solely on showing the controls, I only really got the full hang of Loading Human‘s control scheme until about three hours in. Afterwards, I rarely had issues navigating, but the issue is that I was about 75% of the way through by then.
Making a control scheme that convoluted impacts what is otherwise a pretty straightforward first-person adventure title. Players use their hands (and the triggers) to pick up objects, and most of the gameplay is comprised of simply grabbing an object in one room and taking it to another area. While this may seem like it would make the game easy, every room in Loading Human is filled with dozens upon dozens of objects that are interactive, so it becomes a frustrating game of spot-the-item sometimes.
It also doesn’t help that the rooms are very fun to mess up. Some of the most fun I’ve had in virtual reality has been simply trashing environments (such as in Job Simulator), and I initially started throwing everything I saw in Loading Human. That was a big mistake, as I was trapped in the opening scene for just under a half-hour due to me throwing my electric razor after shaving half my beard off (I thought it’d be funny for my player to look like that the entire way through). As it turns out, the game weirdly requires the player to completely be clean shaven, so I had to search the entire area and find the razor again so I could unlock my bathroom door.
That’s just one example of the really frustrating design of Loading Human. I didn’t find a single puzzle in the game interesting, as most felt like a boring fetch quest. It’s a real shame that most of my time was spent frustratingly looking at rooms, as there is a solid base underneath it.
Loading Human‘s narrative is the bright spot, as players play as Prometheus, the son of a brilliant scientist who is attempting to live forever. Players also interact with a love interest named Alice, and I can confirm that kissing in virtual reality is substantially more awkward than my first kiss in reality. While it doesn’t really break new ground in the genre, the story (and the characters) are all interesting enough.
The first chapter of Loading Human isn’t particularly long, as it took me less than four hours to complete (and as previously noted, about 20 of which were spent locked in a bathroom). That said, the story ends at a natural point, so it hardly feels rushed or unfinished. It really ends at the exact right note as I’m very interested in seeing where the narrative goes from here.
Loading Human Review - PSLS
While I don’t really have an issue with the length of the episode, it’s worth mentioning that Loading Human: Chapter 1 is $39.99. That is a steep price to pay for what is a short introductory chapter, especially considering when full seasons of episodic titles are often less than the asking price here. Price might not be an issue for early adopters, but this certainly isn’t the best value.
Loading Human: Chapter 1 is a flawed start to what might become an interesting journey down the line. While the execution was sloppy, I’m invested in Prometheus and Alice (you never forget your first VR kiss, after all), and am looking forward to finding out what happens next. If the puzzle design gets better and the controls fine-tuned, then Loading Human might be able to turn into something worth the high asking price.
Review code for Loading Human: Chapter 1 provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.