For the purpose of transparency, this review was completed using a review code provided by Minority Media Inc. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of this product.
Ever wanted to travel back in time and walk with dinosaurs, like most children wanted to; Time Machine VR tried to offer this – but unfortunately it’s just not one you’d hoped for or expect the experience would be like – and it really only just manages to qualify as a game. With what developers can offer with VR now, the thing that springs to mind when people say going back to the dinosaur age is that I would be in vast environments with huge dinosaurs walking the earth. However, Time Machine VR always places you underwater with mammals of all sizes.
The story starts with you as a cadet in training and getting your first lesson on time travel, and finding information of your first prehistoric mammal. You are soon returned to the mission hub in Svalbard, Norway – and discover that a disease from the dinosaur age is now is wiping out the human race. You are then thrown in at the deep end as a cadet, and you are sent to areas by the time machine portals to learn on the job, while trying to discover more information about the virus to allow a cure to be created. I was disappointed that there was no back story to the character you are controlling or how he has ended up where he is, which to me took some connection away from the game.
In order to get this information you need to discover scientifically accurate creatures like mosasaurs, livyatans, and megalodons, and then use high-tech equipment to track, probe, and scan these prehistoric mammals, extracting the information you need. At your disposal you also have the ability to attach a probe to creatures/plants in order to make them bait. You can freeze time, this allows you get close to the dangerous creatures and do echography scans, and take action snap shots in order to progress on your missions.
Gameplay wise, with not a wide range of tools being available, this game becomes very repetitive – and you find that your are carrying out very similar tasks in the four areas that have been made available to you. You will travel to the area, and carry out the objectives you are given to find a creature, and use the equipment to perform the tasks given to you by the voice in your time machine, and its basically rinse and repeat with different creatures in each area.
In order to give the game some extra lifespan upon completing the story mode, by completing the tasks the anti-virus/cure is not 100% effective. This opens exploration mode where you can return to any of the areas, and try find more information out about the creatures, this in turn with increase the effectiveness of the cure. However, unless you have an interest in paleontology, this is something you might not find yourself wanting to do. They could have increased the length and story and the game by making you return to the previous areas in story mode, and using the tools that you unlock as you go through the story, to discover more about the creatures – in turn making it longer experience for everyone.
Visually Time Machine VR is a mixed bag with a few stand out issues. The creatures are well detailed and a good scale, but you would expect this with this being the main focal point of the game and how it plays. But, these detailed creatures are placed in environments that are bland, and could have been made and brightened up by underwater plant life other than grass and moss. Outside of the missions in your mission hub, there is not much going on but it gives a futuristic feel. One other issue I found the game faces visually was jagged edges around environments in the distance, but this also appeared when looking at some close up elements – for example looking down in your travel pod and the ball shape which is part of the design was quite jaggy. This at times for me became distracting and took away from some off the immersion of the game.
The game is controlled using the Duel-Shock controller, and is simple to use which is I think is good for VR games, as you don’t loose any immersion thinking about the controls. One thing that stood out for me on the control side was the choice to use the twin sticks for your navigation, which gave you a full and easy feel of being in total control of the navigation of your travel pod. I can say Time Machine VR did not cause any discomfort at all through my play sessions, I think the twin stick controls, and that it did not move at a fast pace in regards to movement speed contributed to this a lot – which to me is a good thing as it means longer sessions are available this way.
One part I did like was in your mission hub, they had provided a DinoDex; from this you can have a look at the creatures you discover throughout the story and exploration mode, with the information unlocked about the creatures being in more detail. Again, this will most likely provide a lot more to people with an interest in paleontology more than those who don’t. But, it was a nice little addition, and could make some people want to go back into exploration mode.
Time Machine VR could have offered so much with the prehistoric era it decided to visit, but while being an interesting premise, it doesn’t really deliver. A very minimalistic story that doesn’t last long and bland, devoid, lifeless areas it doesn’t live up to what you would ever hope it would be. With no real reason to jump into exploration mode, unless you have an interest in paleontology – but, this could have been avoided if they increased the story by making you revisit areas with the new tools available, as part of increasing the effectiveness of the cure.
Time Machine VR’s offers and interesting premise, but then fails to deliver on it. With a short story mode, combated by an exploration mode, however, that wont be for everyone. You will be left feeling the game could have offered you more than it did. With the experience overall leaving you asking yourself ‘where was the fun?’.