There are plenty of virtual reality (VR) videogames that have puzzle elements to them, either as a core mechanic or as an additional bit of brain teasing. For the true puzzle aficionado, additional extras such as storyline or multiplayer options aren’t so much of a concern if there’s enough variety and difficulty to provide a worthwhile challenge. Enter Hurl VR, a title that mixes light sporting skill with puzzle gameplay for a unique, but short lived experience.
The aim of Hurl VR is simple, all you need to do is get a ball in a goal. This is made all the more difficult by a range of additional features that must be utilised in a certain pattern. You need to ricochet the ball off blue panels prior to hitting the goal, if they’re not all hit then the level isn’t completed. This is then further complicated by yellow panels which can launch the ball, and wormholes which transport it to another location.
The true test in Hurl VR isn’t so much figuring out where to start as it is about getting the shot correct. This is pure physics-based puzzling at its best. The goal might only be a short distance away but the location of the panels means that each level requires careful use of power and angles to get that perfect shot. If you’re out by a few degrees, or launch the ball with too much force and the shot might just sail past the target. So to get that perfect angle requires good use of the roomscale environment.
Some levels might need you to step further back on the platform you’re on, while others may need you to move towards the edge. Due to the physical nature of the gameplay some levels might be easier for someone who’s tall, with others offering those of a smaller stature a better chance of completion. Because of this Hurl VR isn’t just a test of your grey matter, it really makes you think about your body position to get the most effective bounce from each panel.
This of course can lead to frustration, especially on the later levels when the panels start moving, so timing the shot becomes even more crucial. You can throw ball after ball and just miss that sweet spot to begin the chain of bounces. To help, developer Rusty Oak has added some assists to help in those times of woe. There’s Trail, which gives you the best line to complete the level. Pull-in, which adds a magnetic halo around the goal to grab the ball should it get close enough. And Timestop, to pause those pesky moving panels. All of the assists have a limited time so they need to be used wisely, or if you can help it not at all. Completing a puzzle you’re stuck on using the assists gives a sense of relief but it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction of beating a level on your own.
Hurl VR is great fun, so much so that you’ll probably finish it in one sitting – completing it took just under one hour for this review. The other issue is the lack of replay elements, as once you’ve successfully played through all 30 levels there are no additional features – apart from achievements – to entice you to replay the videogame. Aside from that Hurl VR is a finely polished title, with good looking sci-fi visuals and solid physics-based gameplay.