Paper Valley Review (Oculus Rift)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
With VR many of the games will have you ending countless enemies (undead or alive) from the use of endless firearms, spells and melee weapons. Where this can be a good way to relieve some stress after a hard days work, what if you don’t want to do it this way? The team at Vitei Backroom may have the solution for you… Paper Valley.
Why do they have you covered? Their game Paper Valley is all about just throwing paper planes at targets in the levels in order to progress through the game. The way they have made this so relaxing to play is not settings you timers or a set number of paper planes to do this in. Yes, this might sound like they’ve made it easy-going, but listening to Alex May from the team over on the VR Hounds podcast this is what the team wanted.
This makes it so you can take the game at your own pace without the stress of thinking time is running low or you only have a few more shots. So, the simple concept comes with some great interaction in the world you are placed in which keeps you visual stimulated throughout playing Paper Valley. Your paper plane throwing skills are going to bring this world back to life, as you enter the world it is all lifeless, void of colour and depressing – but hitting those targets brings this world back to life and full of colour. More and more of the world comes back to life as you hit the next target that appears, meaning you just need to keep throwing those planes until the world is now full of colour.
The team have also added some little extras to gameplay to make it more that just tossing the plane. After the plane has left your hand you get some control over it’s movements by moving the touch controller. Also there is a number of different types of planes available – all coming with different flight properties. This has allowed the team to make the target placements more difficult as you go through the stages, but the aforementioned lack of timer and plane limit still allows for the game to not become stressful.
Given that this world is brought back to life in front of your eyes as you hit the targets the visuals needed to be strong, and I am happy to say they are. Everything is well polished and the colours are so bright and pop out at you. Meaning you feel so relaxed and the stress falling out of you as the water in the world starts to flow and the tress and plants all grow – you just can’t help but take this transformation in.
They then finish the game off with equally soothing serene music, again making you feel like you have all the time in world to make these shots – really keeping you in that relaxed state. Even the noises of the rustle as you grab the paper planes as they fly around you and the gong noise of hitting the targets keep you in the Zen like state. Everything about the presentation falls into place perfectly for what the game is offering, you never feel like you are outside of this world.
Given you are just throwing paper planes the game can be played in a seated or standing position, and supports front face tracking and 360 if you have that sensor set-up. When it comes to the controls you are going to grab the plane with the trigger, then the hand movement to throw it.
The hand throwing movement comes with huge positives and slight negative. The positive side of it is the team have somehow managed to simulate the throwing of the plane perfectly. Which is a bit bizarre at first given you are not actually throwing one and the much more weighted controller in your hand – so massive kudos to the team for managing that. Now the slight negative is partly down to the after control of the plane, as this is automatically activated as soon as the plane leaves your hand, and given it’s motion controlled it can lead to issues at first. For example when throwing a plane at a higher up target and automatically bringing your hand down after releasing it, it can cause the plane to dip and quite rapidly for some of the planes, meaning you needlessly mess up that shot. However, as you spend more and more time with the game you will remember to take this into account and gain that control of your hand movement after releasing the plane – this is why I have this as a slight negative.
To get through the worlds it took me around two to three hours, but to be honest I have found myself returning to game to just relax after getting through them all – and can see me going back for even more. For me it really has that relaxing quality that gives it plenty of replay value.
The team Vitei Backroom had a goal with Paper Valley and that goal was achieved tenfold. The game does exactly what was set out to do, gives you that relaxing Zen state of mind while throwing paper planes at targets. Yes, it might seem like there is a lot to the game, however, it does everything it does well. If you need some relaxing stress relief in VR you’re not going to find anything better than Paper Valley, the only thing I would say it is missing is some narrative to go with why you are restoring this world.
Oculus Rift exclusive
Developer: Vitei Backroom