The VR games and apps I've been playing in April 2023

A player has torched a garden trying to burn a spider
(Image credit: Casey Donnellan Games LLC / tinyBuild)

This past month I’ve used my Meta Quest Pro and the HTC Vive XR Elite I was testing to try out a bunch of VR games and apps. Here’s my monthly rundown of a select few of them, including one that absolutely terrified me.

Kill It With Fire is a spider-hunting game I wasn’t expecting to make me scream louder than any VR game I’ve played before. Little Cities proves it’s still one of the best city simulators in VR. Gesture VR is a great drawing app, but with a few too many faults to beat out others I’ve tried.

If these games sound like fun, you can pick them up on a range of platforms to play at home. If you don’t like the look of these games, be sure to check out our best VR games list for more recommendations. 

Kill It With Fire

I’m petrified of spiders. The eight-legged arachnids fill me with dread whenever I lock eyes with one. On more than one occasion, I've elected to sleep on my sofa rather than in my bed after one of the creepy crawlies successfully evaded my attempts to capture it.

So I thought that Kill It With Fire – a VR game about hunting VR spiders and squashing / torching / blasting / exploding them while wreaking havoc in homes full of breakables – would be my chance to get my own back. How wrong I was.

I’ve played a fair few VR horror games – Resident Evil 4 VR, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, and Wraith: The Oblivion Afterlife – but all of them are rolling around with cute puppies compared to Kill It With Fire.

The game opens with you in a simple corridor decorated with a few paintings on the walls and a single table with three drawers. As you approach the table, it begins to squeak, and suspenseful violins ratchet up the tension. I cautiously reached my hand out to open the drawer, picking up the flower pot on the table as my weapon of choice, and let out a shriek as a virtual spider leaped out at me and I whacked it with the pot.

I was so loud I’m convinced people 10 houses away must have heard me – I definitely frightened my partner who believed I was in serious danger. I instantly ripped the Meta Quest Pro from my face and sat hyperventilating as fear-induced adrenaline pumped through my veins. 

When I'd sufficiently calmed down, I returned to Kill It With Fire and turned on all of the arachnophobia settings to make it more bearable (they worked very well, especially the one that turns the models into less-spidery squiggles). After this, I had so much more fun.

I adore Kill It With Fire’s humorous array of weapons. The challenges you face on each level (which go beyond simply taking out a set number of critters) are fun to attempt and encourage you to stick around on levels rather than blasting through them as quickly as possible.

If you're as arachnophobic as I am, I’d strongly recommend turning the settings on asap. I didn’t, and, well, you’ve read what happened. But whether you love spiders or loathe them, Kill It With Fire is an absolute blast. You can find it on Steam or the Quest platform, and it’s headed to PSVR 2 later this year.

Little Cities

Following my stressful experience with Kill It With Fire, I turned to Little Cities, which is a much calmer and more relaxing experience, but still full of fun. As you’ll read in our best Oculus Quest 2 games list, Little Cities is a superb example of the city sim genre built from the ground up for VR – and it’s only got better thanks to the updates since its launch.

When I first tested Little Cities, I found a lot to love, but there were a few areas – particularly when it came to decorating and personalizing my cities – where it was lacking. The introduction of attractions you can place to not only beautify the landscape but also improve the happiness of your citizens and the productivity of nearby buildings is an excellent addition.

The recent Little Citizens update is also great. I love watching the tiny people walk the streets and enjoy the activities I’ve laid out for them – be it heading to work, taking in the sights, or taking a break to play a game of ice hockey. These simple characters make the world feel much more alive than when you just had vehicles driving around. I love sitting and watching the figures roam; it’s so zen.

These improvements, along with the introduction of fun yet effective hand controls, have done an excellent job of enhancing Little Cities without making it needlessly complex. This title succeeds for me because new levels don’t start out with everything unlocked, meaning you aren’t bombarded with a huge amount of resources and utilities to manage right away. Instead, things develop slowly, allowing your city creation to take on a more fun and relaxed vibe than you might find with other simulation games.

Attractions give you a few more things to play around with from the get-go, but not to an overwhelming degree, and you’ll still have to wait before everything is at your disposal.

I really enjoyed my time with Little Cities and its DLC and would definitely recommend it to anyone with an Oculus Quest 2 or Meta Quest Pro.

Gesture VR

While testing the headset for my HTC Vive XR Elite review, I also got to try a few games and apps from the (admittedly limited) Viveport catalog. One of these was Gesture VR, yet another VR art app, but one with a focus on drawing sketches using virtual statues and models as inspiration.

The premise is really neat, and Gesture’s generally simple controls made it easy to find a reference model, set the lighting just how I wanted, and start sketching. My favorite was of a big cat (I think it was a tiger or panther) looming over its surroundings while roaring from a rocky outcrop. Sure, it was complex to sketch, but the striking pose was a delight to try to recreate.

I also loved the app’s ability to let me easily swap between 2D and 3D drawing modes. It was a delight to experiment with 3D drawing, and once I got the hang of swapping between modes I had so much fun.

It was also one of the best apps to use with the HTC Vive XR Elite’s mixed reality passthrough. Rather than a virtual canvas, I could sketch the virtual subject onto real paper using a real pencil without needing to take my headset off and on again.

Unfortunately, for all of its successes, Gesture VR has a few too many faults that make it my least favorite of the VR art apps I’ve tried – trailing behind Vermillion and Painting VR, which I’ve written about in the past.

For one, I hated the lack of haptics and the clunky pencil controls in general. I never knew how hard I was pressing against the canvas, leading to many occasions where I would draw much thicker or thinner lines than I intended. Some kind of feedback would have made it easier to judge what my movements would create.

I also kept hitting the randomize model button during my sessions, changing my virtual muse to something completely different just as I was getting into my drawing. Admittedly, this is my fault but I made the error more than a few times, making me wish it was a little harder to conjure up a new model or at least easier to return to the one I was just sketching.

Gesture VR looks to be still in development, however – it’s part of Meta’s experimental App Labs program – so some of my gripes could be resolved. If they are, I could definitely see this being one of the best VR art apps out there. Unfortunately, it’s in a pretty crowded space, and the issues I had hold it back in my eyes.

If you want to try it out, it’s available on HTC’s Viveport platform, as well as on Steam and in the Quest Store through App Lab.

Not liking the look of anything on this list? Check out the VR games and apps I played in March 2023 or the VR games and apps I played in May 2023.

Hamish Hector
Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.