Review: Journey of the Gods
A tour de force from Turtle Rock Studios.
For the launch of Oculus Quest, Turtle Rock Studios was unique in the fact that it launched two virtual reality (VR) experiences for the standalone headset. While VRFocus reviewed horror sequel Face Your Fears 2 and found that it didn’t quite hit the mark when it came to scares and gameplay, the same can’t be said for the developers more ambitious project, a highly stylish action-adventure called Journey of the Gods.
One of the few original titles for Oculus Quest – alongside Shadow Point – you instantly feel at home in Journey of the Gods, as it makes use of Oculus Quest’s benefits and limitations as a standalone headset. Suited for seated and standing gameplay, the latter certainly works in Journey of the Gods’ favour, offering greater flexibility when engaging in combat.
Featuring stripped back role-playing game (RPG) elements, you have to fight through this stylish land killing all manner of enemies using a formidable selection of weaponry. At its most basic you’re supplied with a sword and shield, as well as a crossbow. Both can be upgraded by scouring the landscape for hidden items, making the shield wider for better protection, or making the sword longer for improved reach in combat for example. The weapon of choice was most definitely the crossbow, however. Offering an impressive range and a quick reloading system via a crank handle, it was perfect for picking off enemies at distance or when toe-to-toe.
And then there’s the ‘god mode’ to really alter the odds. Only activated once enough essence has been collected from those purple crystals you can see in the screenshots, this mode has a dual function. As progression is made you’ll learn new abilities which can help you in battle or solve puzzles. From removing trees that can block a path to slowing time, one of the best effects is being able to rein lightning bolts down on tough foes.
One of the best parts of Journey of the Gods is the enemy design. More often than not generic foes that you find in videogames tend not to be varied, with the variety saved for the bosses. Turtle Rock Studios has instead produced some of the most assorted, with slugs that spit, floating multiarmed monsters that spawn lesser creatures, flying beasts with protective armour, ones that simply charge at you like a bull or those with many eyes needing a sharp object to blind them. And that’s not including some of the massive creatures at the end of each level.
Because of this, plus the puzzles littered around, there always feels like there’s something to do in Journey of the Gods. That and the fact that everything just works. There never seemed to be any real glitches or other annoyances getting in the way of the gameplay.
This isn’t an open world adventure by any means. The levels, while big, are still linear with a clear path through with no real chance of getting lost. It’s a bit of a shame that there’s no way to access the upgrade location mid-level if you find enough parts – upgrades require three items at a time – only giving access once a level has been completed. It’s not a deal breaker, just a bit weird in an RPG style experience.
Journey of the Gods is Oculus Quest’s The Legend of Zelda. Showcasing what’s best about VR adventuring, the title is ideal for those who want to make the most of their new headset purchase, with decent gameplay, narrative and fantasy feel. It may not look graphically impressive in the screenshots when compared to Apex Construct or Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series, but it doesn’t need to. Journey of the Gods has a charm and purpose all of its own, precisely why it featured on VRFocus’ ‘Oculus Quest: The Top 10 Games to Buy on Launch Day‘ list.