Green Hell VR PC Review: Brilliant But Brutal VR Survival
Green Hell VR on PC offers a much more authentic and demanding experience than the Quest edition, though that won’t necessarily make it better for everyone. Read on for our Green Hell VR PC review!
You know that Green Hell VR is getting something right when I say it’s a really frustrating game. It turns out that getting lost in the jungle, shrouded by endless vegetation, covered in leeches and dying of thirst is no walk in the park. Your mileage with Incuvo’s mostly excellent port of the Creepy Jar flatscreen game is going to depend on how much you enjoy that punishment.
But first, let’s recap the rather unique situation with Green Hell VR. This is actually the second edition of the game to be ported to headsets from Incuvo. The other, Green Hell for Quest, released earlier this year and presented a stripped-back edition designed specifically for the standalone headset. It was a logical move that made for a much more accessible and welcoming game ideally suited to the platform.
Green Hell VR on PC, meanwhile, is near enough the full-fat experience; a one-to-one conversion of the original game with the full map, story and set of items to craft. The only thing that’s missing is co-op support, though this is set to arrive in a future update.
Green Hell VR PC Review – The Facts
Platforms: PC VR via Steam
Release Date: Out Now
Without question, this is the more demanding of the two ports. Green Hell VR on PC has more threats to confront and the larger world makes it far easier to end up walking in circles. It’s much more common to spend long gameplay sessions feeling like you’re not really getting anywhere as you wonder where you’re meant to go next and scavenge for scarce sources of water and food that won’t poison you.
But this, in fairness, is the original Green Hell experience, and anyone disappointed with the streamlined Quest version will be happy with just how closely this edition of the game matches the flatscreen one. If you give Green Hell VR on PC the time and dedication needed to master its overwhelming systems you’ll be richly rewarded.
The basics of any survival game apply here. Stranded in the rainforest, you’ll need to search for food and water to appease ever-depreciating meters, build initially simple structures that allow you to safely cook and sleep, and explore more of your surroundings, defending yourself from various threats. But Green Hell isn’t just about surviving for as long as possible – there’s a full story here that sees you search for a means of escape and anyone that doesn’t go for the more generic, last man standing survival approach will appreciate this option (and, for the latter camp, there’s a standard survival mode too).
Judged on the pacing and complexity of its systems alone, Green Hell was already a success. Creepy Jar nailed the survival loop the first time around, and the same grueling sense of reward you garnered from gradually discovering new crafting recipes and expanding out a comprehensive list of threats and remedies is alive and well here. It’s also a meaty game with well over 10 hours for the main campaign.
When it comes to the VR integration a series of smart UI choices, physical interactions and that touch of immersive magic really help lift the game. Green Hell VR correctly borrows features from other VR games, like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners’ body-based inventory and backpack system, combined with just a dash of the weighty handling of Boneworks. Axes need to be swung with force to chop trees, for example, and spears can be hurled across the jungle with enough power.
The best ideas, though, are the ones that Incuvo’s had itself. You could take the entire rest of the game away and just leave me with a spear to fish in rivers and lakes and I would have told you this was one of the best VR experiences of the year. There’s something utterly hypnotic about patiently standing like a statue as water rushes past your ankles, ready to plunge your spear into an unsuspecting stingray as it nears you. It’s an alive, electrical moment that really gets to the heart of why you should play a survival game in VR, and there’s plenty of similar instances throughout.
Not every element of the VR experience is to the game’s benefit, though. While I appreciate the desire to bring the entire original game into headsets, the port doesn’t seem to acknowledge that traversal on a flatscreen and in VR are two very different things, and trekking through the jungle with a sea of giant leaves and grass obscuring your view is much more tedious here. Combat, too, is hard to get a grasp on and often ends with you mindlessly swiping away at a predator without much sense of if you’re having any effect.
But, when you catch the first sight of the morning mist winding through the bamboo as the rays of sun pierce onto the riverbank, it’s tough not to view Green Hell VR as something of a miracle.
Green Hell VR PC Review – PC vs Quest
The differences between the two versions of Green Hell VR are nothing short of staggering. The Quest version scales back the map, ecosystem and even just the types of structures you can create. Visually the game is far more complex on PC, too. If you want a hardcore, demanding survival experience, then the PC VR version is unquestionably the way to go.
I will say, though, that some of the Quest’s revisions do actually speak to VR better than the PC edition. Crafting, for example, is a much more physical process, requiring you to mash items together and then tie them with rope, or hammer logs into the ground when creating structures. The PC VR version keeps the simple crafting table, which doesn’t feel half as intuitive. I’d also argue that, while the PC edition’s map stays true to the original, the Quest version’s pared-back plant life makes it much more navigable and less tedious to explore.
Ultimately the answer to which version you should buy depends on what you want out of a VR game. If you want a deep gameplay experience akin to a flatscreen game with smart VR controls, PC is the way to go. But if you want something that’s more thoughtfully designed for VR, less frustrating, arguably more immersive and you don’t mind the difficulty trade-offs, the Quest version is for you.
That is to say the game is gorgeous – diverse and lush in all the ways you’d expect, with its beauty often serving as a lure for dangers lying in wait. This has always been a game of gruesome delights and never has that been more true in VR as you inspect sickly-red blotches lining your legs or wrap bandages around oozing gashes. It’s a technical beast, too, with every tree ready to be cut and item waiting to be picked up. If you’ve been looking for a new VR game that goes beyond the performance possibilities of standalone hardware, this will more than satisfy.
Having said that, it definitely feels like much more could have been done to help with performance for those that need it. Even on Low graphics settings with a 3070 Ti I’d still get some hitches and slowdown in this version of the game, but it never makes any concessions in terms of the sheer amount of interactive items and vegetation around you. This is fine for those with the rigs to handle it but it would also be great to get a mode that reduces the number of superficial items like leftover bottles and vases that have no actual use. At the very least I’d welcome the ability to remove these from the game world yourself for the sake of performance.
Green Hell VR PC Review – Final Impressions
Green Hell VR is easily one of the most impressive VR conversions we’ve seen and sits alongside the Quest edition as Incuvo’s best work yet. It’s an uncompromising experience that retains the masochistically moreish survival gameplay whilst smartly translating a lot of the original’s core features to VR. If you want the closest translation of Creepy Jar’s brutal experience in VR, this is the way to go.
But adhering so closely to the original doesn’t necessarily make the PC VR version of the game superior to the Quest edition. Dense jungles might be easy to trek through on a flatscreen, but it’s far more tedious in VR, and some of the concessions Quest makes in this regard ultimately suit the platform better. The great news is that, whether you want a deep, demanding survival game with complex systems, or a more welcoming conversion that’s more considerate of VR design, there’s a version of Green Hell VR for you.
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