Steel Wool Studios could be classed as a prolific virtual reality (VR) developer having launched several videogames for the HTC Vive head-mounted display (HMD). Each one has been different from the last, and now the developer has entered the puzzle genre with Bounce. Simple in its gameplay but fiendishly challenging, can Bounce continue the studio’s VR form?There are plenty of puzzle titles for HTC Vive so competition is fierce, with experiences needing to offer something unique and enjoyable. Bounce requires players to do one thing, get a small spherical robot from the end of one room to the other, avoiding or activating various obstacles on route with a limited selection of items on offer to achieve your goal.
Bounce starts you off nice and easy, and achieves a nice gradual difficulty progression throughout its 50 levels. The tutorial takes you through the basics which involve choosing the different panels, chutes, spring pads and other items on offer on one controller with the other allowing you to place and move said objects. For anyone well versed with the HTC Vive this all becomes quick and intuitive, enabling minute changes to achieve that perfect path through a level.
This lays the ground work for some highly complicated and patience testing puzzles ahead. Bounce is the epitomy of trial and error, you’ll probably whizz through the early stages and get really infuriated with the latter ones. But that’s part of the joy of these style of videogames. If it was easy then where’s the challenge and the fun, and Bounce certainly delivers that, literally making you jump through hoops to succeed.
Levels can involve gravity defying areas, vast distances, compact tight corners, rings that need to be unlocked in a certain order and so much more. There’s certainly plenty to work through, each one giving a ranking from one to three stars. Longevity can always be an issue with puzzle titles, as once you’ve solved them what’s there really to do. Steel Wool Studios has thought about this, not only with the star ranking system, but also with its Style Mode. This allows you to go back and attack each level again, but now you’re scored on the complexity of your solution. It’s certainly an inventive solution to replayability, especially on favourite levels and really challenges you to think outside the box.
So does Bounce have that perfect formula to challenge and keep gamers playing? For the most part yes. This isn’t a title that you’re going to get through in a hour. Many VR experiences are derided for their lack of gameplay time and Bounce isn’t one of them. With 50 levels to wade through there’s plenty to keep you busy for hours on end and that’s certainly a big plus mark. Whilst not being highly unique in terms of its core idea it’s the straight forward gameplay that aides Bounce’s addictiveness, and it’s certainly a title that those who love puzzlers should checkout if they’re looking for a decent challenge and a change from all the shooters currently available.