Preview: Vacation Simulator – Owlchemy Labs Doing What it Does Best

One of the big launch titles for HTC Vive almost two years ago was indie developer Owlchemy Labs’ humorous interactive experience Job Simulator. A lot has happened since then, with the studio being bought by Google and releasing equally popular follow up Rick and Morty: A Virtual Rick-ality. The team are continuing to do what they know best with their next title Vacation Simulator, where after a hard days work it’s time to relax on the beach.

Vacation Simulator headerVacation Simulator takes the core mechanic of Job Simulator, a fun, comedic videogame that’s all about interacting with the environment, and expands upon that principle. Set on a lush beach resort filled with robots to wave at and talk to, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018 demo offered a single open location to explore rather than the fixed individual areas found in Job Simulator.

There’s no free locomotion, rather fixed teleportation points to jump to (around six in total), each with its own activity to engage in. One of the first that VRFocus came across was also one of the best, a sandcastle builder using a selection of predefined building blocks. Free to create, the mini-game also featured challenges denoted on a 2D board, with vertical, right and front facing diagrams of a particular sandcastle to build, awarding a trophy if successful.

Other points of interest included a barbecue section to complete burger and sandwich orders, there’s a robot on the beach that wants a selection of butterflies collected, or you could engage in some light-hearted sea football, trying to get balls past a goalie by throwing them. For the limber there was also the possibility to look beneath the waves, unfortunately there was no option to go any deeper in the demo so hopefully that’ll be available in the fully released version.

And no beach would be complete without a rustic surf shack, here you can change outfits, trying on some nice garish sunglasses and hats. After the wardrobe selection is complete then its time for a selfie to share with friends, taken with a massive child sized instant camera located in the backpack.

Demoed with Oculus Rift, Vacation Simulator will continue Owlchemy Labs’ multiplatform support, with versions for HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Ideally suited to standing roomscale, the experience should support seated gameplay as well – this is supposed to be relaxing after all!

Vacation Simulator feels very much like a Job Simulator 2.0, rehoused and repackaged in a new, brighter skin. There are always going to be similarities with its predecessor, so Vacation Simulator needs to have enough of its own personality to stand apart – like a bratty teenager trying to show their parents how modern technology works. From this introduction the videogame certainly looks like its going to continue the studio’s strong lineage, with Owlchemy Labs promising a bigger experience with more of a storyline for the single-player title, and plenty more to do. If you were a fan of the developer’s other virtual reality (VR) titles then Vacation Simulator should be a 2018 title to look forward to.