Horizon Call of the Mountain (PSVR2 Review)

Howdy hidey ho!  I’m a pretty big fan of the Horizon series at this point, so it was a no-brainer that if I was going to grab a PSVR2, I’d also get the bundle with Horizon Call of the Mountain included.  But the thing is: if you know the main games, then you might be somewhat wondering how this translates into VR.  Well, I’m here to answer that for you!


…the combat is the highlight overall.

Climbing.  Lots… of… climbing.  I’d say that easily 75% of your time (and that seems a bit conservative!) is climbing, and no matter how good you get at it, no matter what neat tools they give you to do it with, it just becomes a chore.  The initial “wow” factor wears itself out quickly, and this is exacerbated by occasional bugging out during a climb.  Then we shift into the other major mechanic: combat.  This is nothing like the combat from the main games and was where my curiosity in translating Horizon’s world would come to VR.  It’s a lot less dynamic: you circle your enemies and shoot at them.  Of course, that’s an oversimplified description: what you ACTUALLY do is waggle your arms to strafe/dodge (and unfortunately, these gestures can be rather imprecise at times), and you wear down your opponents.  And here’s the thing: it’s actually quite fun.  If anything, the combat is the highlight overall.  It’s not perfect by any means, and even nocking arrows would bug out on occasion, but if it’s any indication: I worked up a sweat against the Thunderjaw!  All said and done, that’s the game’s two core mechanics and pretty much all you do: climb and shoot.  There are some tiny other bits that demonstrate VR physics like crafting, but you’ll find little else to do on your way to the end.


…this is MASSIVELY overpriced and downright offensive.

And that end comes shockingly quick: you’ll get somewhere between 6-7 hours on the way to the credits.  Outside of the main adventure is a challenge area (where I admittedly enjoyed practicing the archery), and some little things like shooting beacons in a level or completing cairn puzzles.  Nope, there are no side quests.  I never sugarcoat these kinds of things: at $60, this is MASSIVELY overpriced and downright offensive.  There’s just no justifying this price tag for such a short adventure coupled with little else to do.


…this is one of the best-looking VR games on the market…

This part is the tough part to gauge: anyone who knows VR knows that the graphics and resolution always take a hit because dual rendering and higher framerates are needed.  And thus, you need to know this game looks utterly nowhere close to Horizon Forbidden West.  Instead, knowing the requirements VR places on the hardware, I tell you that this is still a good-looking VR game.  Sure, its dynamic resolution can dip a bit low, and the game does NOT survive close inspection under pretty much any circumstances (which is ironic given how VR works), but there are still moments where the game makes sure you get a proper VR visual experience.  This is mainly masked by good texture work, though you’ll naturally find that VR imposes shortcomings there, too, as well as on things like draw distance.  Nonetheless, as far as my VR experiences go, this is one of the best-looking VR games on the market shockingly powered by a mere console.  And they know what they wanted to accomplish: there are moments where VR presents a closeup depth of immersion simply not possible on a TV.  Then we move into something PlayStation really needs to cut out.  You might have guessed it, but your character self-narrates and simply does not know when to shut up.  This is made worse by VR: we’re immersed more so than normal, so to hear my character constantly barking in my ears on “thoughts” or “commentary” pulls me back out to remind me I’m staring at two screens strapped to my face.  And then there’s the story: I am very sad to report it’s not really tied to the main games like I’d hoped.  It’s an oddly simple and ancillary story that is likely to be forgotten by its own end.


…a good-looking VR game that merely demonstrates PSVR2…

The thing is: translating Horizon’s open world and combat mechanics into VR would have been a herculean task as it is.  I get that.  But unfortunately, they went so tangential that I spent most of my time climbing like a VR interactivity tech demo.  And while the combat is properly enjoyable, particularly the big fights being a good test of my physical multitasking capabilities (and you’ll know which ones those are, trust me!), neither the climbing nor combat are free from gesture imprecision.  Add to that an absolute slap in the face with that price tag for such a short, empty, and forgettable adventure, and what you’re left with is a good-looking VR game that merely demonstrates PSVR2 rather than expanding Horizon’s world.

I give Horizon Call of the Mountain

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