Games: Gun-slinging carnival ride Switchback more drinks coaster than rollercoaster
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR (PS5)
IN THE week that Barry's infamous Big Dipper has churned the guts of its last Portrush oik, to be replaced by the Turtle Splash log flume (which sounds like an aggressive bowel movement), it seems the good folk of Northern Ireland will have to look elsewhere for their rollercoaster thrills.
PS5 VR owners are sorted, however, with Switchback VR, a schlocky fairground ride and spiritual successor to Rush of Blood – one of the original PSVR’s best games.
Better known for their cinematic narrative horrors, Supermassive have crafted another one-way ticket into darkness, this time cobbled together with assets from the first season of their Dark Pictures Anthology. Spanning the events of Man of Medan, Little Hope, House of Ashes and The Devil in Me, players strap in for a multi-sensory slay ride where loop-de-loops are nothing compared to the zombies, witches and aliens ripe for your two-fisted gunplay.
A horror-themed rollercoaster mixed with arcade lightgun shooter, you’ll blast anything that moves while enjoying all the fun of the fair in full VR with all the fixings. A few sections switch things up with weapons-based puzzling – using a blacklight to show the way, a flare gun to break obstacles or an electric gun to activate traps.
And while (literally) on rails, some interactivity is introduced with the ability to switch the portion of track you’re travelling or whether to save certain characters. Given it’s in VR, jump-scares abound as creatures leap into view, but Sony’s new hardware is put through its paces with much improved controller feedback and haptics that not only recreate the rumble of a rickety track but simulate the wallop of your head against obstacle.
Going through its “meat tunnel” you’ll even feel the tickle of icky fingers against your skull. Its best trick, however, comes late on, when a blood-scrawled message tells players “Don’t blink!”. Once your corneas have crusted over, you’ll eventually succumb, and thanks to VR2’s eye-tracking, each blink brings enemies towards you, much like Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels. It’s genuinely terrifying, though may have you reaching for the Optrex.
Sadly, in terms of soaring fairground sim, Switchback is more drinks coaster than rollercoaster. Compared with the swooping, breakneck thrills in Rush of Blood, the action here mainly takes place on slow, flat tracks which you trundle along at lawnmower pace. Even the faster sections feel a tad gentle for thrill-seekers.
Enemies verge on the repetitive, while its visuals and loading times aren’t hot for a PS5 game. Still, for a gun-slinging carnival ride, Switchback is one of the best ways to show off your fancy new headset’s unique features.