I’m a simple gamer at times. I enjoy the easier and not as complicated experiences more often than not. Hell, I got way more fun out of Hamsterball on the PS3 than I had any right to. Which brings me to Arca’s Path for the PSVR and a similar schtick. No, there’s no innocent but somehow happy rodent trapped in a ball and rolling at a hundred miles an hour. Instead this title has a more controlled and puzzle platform feel. Well I wouldn’t say so much of a puzzler as Arca’s Path feels more like exploration really. Regardless, I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s jump into the review. (OK, I admit I imagined a rodent in the center of the controllable ball begging for sweet release.)
Arca’s Path’s story is told through beautiful segments of colorful, but silent, sci-fi art. The cutscenes are reminiscent of a comic book panel and depict a futuristic city dripping in neon. On the outskirts of this metropolis a little girl is entertaining herself in a landfill. Subtle hints in design reveal she doesn’t have the best life and does what she can to get by. However, a hi-tech piece of machinery that looks like a mask falls down from a hovering garbage ship. It’s not in the best shape, but our heroine picks it up and puts the device on. Turns out the mask is a compact virtual reality device that plays the very game the player will play. Yes, pretty meta. There’s not a terrible amount of cutscenes, but there realistically can’t be much plot to an experience like this. What’s here though is a perfect companion piece for the ball rolling and exploring gameplay.
Let me just say that what you’re already thinking about in regards to this title’s gameplay is probably spot on. That’s not a negative though as it is simplistic fun. The player guides a hollow, lattice ball at the start of an area all the way to the end of it in order to complete the level. You do this by using your head to position a triangle on the ground, around the lattice ball, which gives it instructions on what direction to travel and how fast. The closer the marker is to the ball, the slower it will move and the further it is the faster the ball will travel. You can also bring it to a complete stop or a slow creep down a decline by looking at the ball’s location. Holding down the touchpad will also freeze everything so you can look around freely. Naturally, there will be twists and turns to the mostly linear paths on any given level. While parts of the gameplay design are momentum based other challenges will include just staying on the map. There won’t always be a wall to protect our lovable lattice ball from flying off the edge.
Each level will have checkpoints to save your progress from which you’ll start from if the super awesome mega ball plummets to the cloudy abyss below. While Arca’s Path isn’t too challenging there will be times you’re glad for this system. It’s not only downhill slopes or unguarded edges that will be a problem. There will be jumps that have to be made with timing and a steady gaze to keep a ball rolling, lifts to bring you above or below, wall’s to be smashed, objects to be pushed, among other similar obstacles. At no point did these problems stump me though. The game is quite easy to figure out and I believe it was done on purpose to make this a relaxing journey. You can also collect crystals scattered throughout the, still mostly linear, levels which aren’t hard to reach at all. Once you acquire these collectibles in any given level you’ll unlock a time trial option for it. This is as self-explanatory as it sounds.
The art style here follows the gameplay’s suit. It’s simplistic in design but very beautiful. There’s several different areas to bumble your way around in and all of them have a very watercolor like feel. Soothing pigments and tones like pink clouds or floating beds of flowers complete a picture for a ball rolling by. Sound design isn’t as impressive although that may be a positive thing here. I didn’t get distracted or frustrated from the task of rolling my ball on where it needed to go. I realize I sound like some kid back on the playground at recess. There was one piece of music though that caught my attention and I appreciated it every time it played.
Arca’s Path isn’t a long game. There’s twenty five levels to roll through, not counting time trial runs, and will probably take the average PSVR gamer about three or four hours to complete. Again this isn’t a negative and probably a good thing for two reasons. One being you can only enjoy directing the path of an object with your sight for so long and this title has a bleed effect I have yet to encounter in virtual reality. I usually have a pretty good grip on reality after any particular gaming session. Although I say that like anyone without mental health issues wouldn’t but I digress. Arca’s Path however left me feeling like I had to move my head and gaze away from objects I interacted with in my daily ongoings. I had to actually put a little effort into fighting the sensation and had a small sense of discomfort for about an hour anytime after playing.
Arca's Path PSVR Review
Arca’s Path is a delightful virtual reality journey that I’m truly surprised I enjoyed so much. All you do is use your head to control a ball around levels and obstacles yet there’s something weirdly addicting to it. Not to mention intuitive and relaxing. The only true problem I had with the title was a terrible bleeding effect into the real world after a play session. I had to fight the sensation of wanting to look away at objects I wanted to pick up or approach. Still this three hour experience is another virtual reality game that all PSVR owners should consider purchasing.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.