The Crazy Machines series has made a name for itself as a popular problem-solving experience across multiple formats. Having begun life on PC, we’ve since seen instalments on Nintendo DS, Wii and iOS formats, each making use of the unique input devices hosted by the platform. Now, with the forthcoming Crazy Machines VR, it’s the turn of virtual reality (VR).
Crazy Machines has always been about experimentation. The player is given a non-working contraption, inspired by the Rube Goldberg-style of un-associated items with unique properties cobbled together for a singular outcome, with the task of using a small selection of additional components to fix the machine. While on the surface Crazy Machines VR may look and sound like a Fantastic Contraption clone, the truth is that the experience is in fact far closer to Coatsink’s Esper.
It’s a videogame about using logic. Players must examine where the contraption is failing and what function is needed to fix the issue, while also looking over their available components for items that offer said functionality. Assisting the player are catch-points on the contraptions to which objects must be attached, but ensuring they behave correctly is not necessarily a straight-forward affair.
To enable the player to perform all of this constant assessment they are granted the use of a time-controlling potato. Pressing the green button on the potato will remind time, resetting the contraption and affording the player unlimited time to add objects as required. A second press will release the control and allow time to advance as normal, with the contraption either seeing success thanks to the player’s interference or providing new clues as to how it may be fixed.
Crazy Machines VR plays very similarly to the Wii edition of Crazy Machines, with motion-control affording the player direct interaction with the contraptions which – in the playable build available at Gamescom 2018, at least – are displayed on an almost 2D plane. Whether or not later levels will make greater use of the great depths of immersion VR offers or even a simple sense of scale remains to be seen.
There are other issues that need to get addressed before this however. While the development team assured VRFocus that the PC build is further along than the PlayStation VR version on offer, there’s no denying that the hit-and-miss physics on many objects were a disappointing problem. While the team seem confident that they can entertain PlayStation VR owners with an expansive core experience, dozens of mini-games and a playground of construction as an alternative gameplay mode, getting the fundamentals right before any of this is a much greater concern.
Of course, Crazy Machines has been established within the videogame world for more than a decade now, so there’s no reason to believe the team can’t fix the issues that remain prior to launch. Crazy Machines VR certainly has the potential to be a refreshing puzzle experience in VR and, given the high level of challenge offered by previous titles, will likely be a brain taxer that goes far beyond most of what the medium has yet dared to offer.