Review: Red Matter
Not overly long but engrossing throughout.
Having previewed Red Matter last week, VRFocus instantly liked Vertical Robot’s virtual reality (VR) follow-up to Daedalus. Continuing with the puzzle genre, Red Matter takes you on a sci-fi adventure that features an engrossing story, moments that terrify and just enough complexity to get you stuck – just not for too long.
As you should be aware by now from VRFocus’ previous coverage, Red Matter is set on one of Saturn’s moons. You’re a secret agent sent from an Earth at war between two factions, the Atlantic Union and the People’s Republic of Volgravia. As an agent of the former you’ve been tasked with locating secret documents from Volgravia’s base on the moon of Rhea.
Straight from the off Red Matter is beautifully inspired by the design of the ex-Soviet Union, and its cold war methodology. From architectural details like Volgravia’s crest to finely rendered designs on the clothing, it seems like Vertical Robot has left nothing to be picky about. The entire base whisks you back to the 1950’s, immersing you in a location that just begs to be explored.
And explore it you must, to learn as much as possible about what happened in this empty base whilst searching for clues that can help in the quest. Thankfully movement is well catered for, with short teleport dashes, smooth locomotion when teleporting feels too immersion breaking or then there’s the long jump (this is a low gravity installation) which is awesome and novel to begin with but too slow when nipping in between rooms.
A nice little feature thanks to Oculus Rift exclusivity are the inclusion of Oculus Touch controllers in the videogame. This adds that extra feeling of presence to the whole shebang, bringing the sensation of touch into play that haptic rumble feedback on its own just can’t match. And with the left controller there’s a host of additional functionality to choose from that’s quick and intuitive to pick.
On the actual puzzle side of things they never get too overly complicated or drawn out. It can at points seem like several tasks are somewhat similar – find this to unlock this…- yet the pacing is such that it never becomes boring or mundane. And should you get stuck simply stepping back and looking at your surroundings should help. Oh, and scan everything. This can get a bit repetitive – especially when the scanner locks onto another mug for the umpteenth time – and isn’t needed unless you’re a proper completionist but does help with longevity.
If there is one thing to moan about with Red Matter is its gameplay time. An initial gameplay session my take 5- 6 hours depending on how thorough you want to be, however a second quick play through will probably only last a couple of hours. And there’s no real hidden secrets that VRFocus could find, which reduces the need for further gameplay sessions.
All in all, Red Matter is a very high calibre VR experience, neatly weaving its story and puzzle elements together. It by no means perfect, following the line of other puzzles in VR that are seemingly unable to offer plenty of reasons to come back for more. So like a good meal take it slowly and savour the moment.