PS4

Review: Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son – PSVR

I love the Groundhog Day movie. Who doesn’t? It’s a classic tale of one man going from arsehole to good guy, with a bit of time-travel thrown in there for good fun. Well, it’s actually a massive part of the plot and the reason Bill Murray’s character undergoes his transformation. You’d think that a sequel would be impossible, or at the very best, a crappy cash-in, right? I thought so, too, but Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is, in my book at least, a certified true follow-up to the movie that plays twice a week on ITV 2 every Christmas.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this time-bending tale, let me set out a few of the rules. The game is a PSVR game, which means that if you don’t have a PSVR headset, you’re not going to be playing this on PS4. It’s also available on PC virtual reality headsets, and from what I’ve heard the console and PC versions are pretty much identical, so this review is still relevant to you PCVR folks.

Secondly, you’ll need two PS Move wand controllers. Without them, you’re buggered. The game is all about using your hands, and so the Moves are 100% required. And no, you can’t take Phil Jr. on a shooting spree with the PSVR Aim controller. He’s a dick, but he’s not that much of a dick.

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son takes place in the present day, but instead of following Bill Murray’s Phil Connors, we’re instead playing as his arsehole son, Phil Connors Jr., and arrogant prick who is back home in Punxsutawney for the festival celebrating his late father’s life and works. He’s not happy about it, though, and we learn this through the opening scene which shows Phil Jr. slamming his hometown on his social media feed. Proper millennial wanker, then.

You’re soon handed the reigns as you wake up to the familiar song on the radio, which is a chorus of “I got you babe” waking you up. As it’s VR, you can reach over and stop the music, or slam the thing into the bedroom wall. Nice touch, I thought.

The day starts with you mooching around your room where you can inspect the bits and bobs that litter the place. The first thing I did was head towards Phil Jr’s. writing desk where there was a big piece of paper and a pen. Naturally, I drew a penis. The developers even expected this, as is evident from Phil Jr’s thinking out loud “aaaaand I drew a penis.” There are actually several variations, and each one got a giggle from me. What can I say? I’m a juvenile at heart.

You then move on out onto the hallway where you get a call from an old friend before heading down to the kitchen/living room area of the family home. And it’s chaos. There’s screaming and shouting, a couple of kids are throwing snowballs in the garden, and before you know it you’re stood in a room where a snowball has smashed a window, a fish has been rescued from a hungry cat, and minivan has smashed through the wall. The first time this all happens, it’s quite an overload. I didn’t know what to do or where to put myself, so I simply observed and answered the questions as they came at me.

Movement is done via teleporting. There’s no free movement here, but it really doesn’t need it. Teleporting is usually a pain in the arse with VR games, but it actually suits Like Father Like Son perfectly. Each section of the game is basically one big scene in a movie, and you’re the star. You can move to pre-determined points within the scene, with each point being relevant somehow to the story and your own progression. Well, mostly. Being able to freely move around would have made this a lot harder and the game wouldn’t have been nearly as cohesive as it is. So on this occasion, teleporting gets a big thumbs up from me.

Once you’ve done your first round through the day, you’re back to your bed waking up to the familiar song on the radio, which is a chorus of “I got you babe” waking you up. As it’s VR, you can reach over and stop the music, or slam the thing into the bedroom wall. Nice touch, I thought.

Again, you’re free to explore the room before heading on downstairs to the chaotic breakfast scene. Only this time, you’ll maybe learn something that’ll set of a chain of events. Or maybe you’ll stand stupidly by the fridge as everything goes to shit once again. That’s what I did…

The idea is that on each day you relive, you’ll learn a little and be able to improve the day each time. It may just be a simple case of making the right breakfast or opening a window, but these little things add up, and it’s wonderful to go back through and hit your cues.

While the gameplay is fairly simple and revolves around you clumsily picking things up with your hands, or turning a knob here and there and all the rest of it, the real highlight for me was the story itself. The gameplay didn’t matter too much; I was just an actor playing a role, and everything was going to happen anyway. That’s how it felt to me, and I guess that’s the point of a “narrative adventure” game.

The writing is superb and it fits nicely with the game’s overall aesthetic, though there’s definitely a lot more swearing than I remember there being in the original movie. I’m not sensitive to swearing (I love a good swearing rant) but it did seem a little excessive at times, but that’s just me.

Characters are nicely animated and although it’s a little cartoony, it’s a great fit and allows the game to look really clean and sharp in VR, while also allowing the characters to be expressive enough to not look like marionettes being pulled along.

It would have been easy to make Like Father Like Son a simple re-tread of the movie it is following, but this is a genuinely great experience that you just can’t get outside of VR. Being a part of and being integral to every scene, whilst also being able to explore and stick your head and hands wherever you want is how I want to play any and all non-action adventure games from now on. Heck, give me sequels to movies in this manner and I’ll die a happy man. Gattacca 2 in PSVR? In my bloody dreams…

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son PSVR Review
  • Overall - Must buy - 9/10
    9/10
9/10

Summary

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is the sequel I didn’t know I wanted. Were it delivered in any format other than VR, I don’t think I’d be half as interested and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good. Being a part of an interactive movie has for so long been the dream, but now it’s a (virtual) reality. Big thumbs up from me, and I’m looking forward to more surprises from Tequila Softworks.

Pros

  • A brilliant story that’s true to the original movie.
  • A lively cast of characters with decent enough voice work.
  • Simple controls and cohesive gameplay.
  • Phil Connors Jr transitioning from total prick to a nice enough lad. Fuzzy warm heart feelings and all that.

Cons

  • A bit too much swearing at times, a little at odds with the family-friendly nature of the movie.
  • Some mini-games are tedious.
  • Very few hints means if you’re an idiot (like me) you’ll be reliving the same day over and over and over and over and over and over and…

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy. 

Reviewed using PS4 Pro. 

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