February 2023 has been a much better month for me in terms of the VR games and apps that I've downloaded and played compared with January.
Using my Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro I've had an absolute blast playing the VR hit The Last Clockwinder and also Barbaria, a recent addition to the Quest platform. Unfortunately, I can't say my experience working in VR using Meta's Horizon Workrooms app was as enjoyable (the software definitely needs some work still).
Read on for my thoughts on these titles. And make sure to check out our picks for the best VR games and the best Oculus Quest 2 games to get some more recommendations of the VR games and apps you need to download.
The Last Clockwinder
You’ve returned to an ancient clock tower built inside a giant tree you once called home to save it and find out what happened to your old friend and mentor: the eponymous Last Clockwinder. In your journey through the building's many chambers, you’ll need to use a pair of special gloves left for you by the missing Clockwinder in order to proceed.
These gloves enable you to create automatons that will expertly mimic the movements you record, repeating them in a loop. This allows you to create a small army of machines that will help you grow and juice the fruit that the tower uses as fuel. Once you’ve set up the automation, you can leave it running in the background; your efficient loop will continue to run while you move on to a different puzzle making your produce stockpile grow larger and larger.
I had an absolute blast playing this game. I adored its puzzles, which require a perfect blend of creative thinking and dexterity in order for you to complete them. If you find VR movement a little tricky, though, you won’t be penalized for relying on a few extra robot helpers to get the job done. The maximum amount you can spawn in each level is more than sufficient to find a non-optimized solution.
I’m not alone in loving this title, either. It’s won numerous awards, including Meta’s Best of Quest: Best Game of 2022 award.
My only gripe (and it's a minor one) is that there's a relatively sharp difficulty spike toward the end. The Last Clockwinder is a very casual puzzle experience, but the luftapples are a much trickier fruit to handle than anything that comes before. I couldn’t wait to be done with any chamber that forced me to grow them.
They didn’t spoil my experience, though, and having finished the game’s short but sweet story, I can say it’s an excellent VR experience that you should definitely play for yourself.
For the past week, I've been spending my working days in the metaverse, swapping my home office for the virtual space of Horizon Workrooms. You can check out an in-depth look at my experience of working in VR, but the TL;DR is: it's not great.
The idea of Horizon Workrooms is that you sync the app to your real-world PC so you can work and take meetings while in VR. The premise is interesting, but in practice working in VR has more problems than just using your PC without wearing a Meta Quest Pro.
For a start, despite the seemingly limitless potential of VR, Horizon Workrroms constrains my virtual setup to what my real world is capable of. So because I only have two monitors, my virtual office computer only has two – even though Horizon Workrooms can support up to three.
What's more, while there's a good variety of spaces to host virtual meetings in – you can visit the beach, tower high above a city, or take in the views over a beautiful lake – your office can only look out at the lake or have you sit in a blank void (with just a lamp, a tree and the aurora borealis to fill the space). I'd have loved the ability to customize the office room more to make it feel like my own and a few more options for virtual views to marvel at.
On top of this Horizon Workrooms isn't super stable; the app would crash or restart on its own multiple times a session. While these crashes weren't major or too disruptive on their own, their frequency meant I lost a lot of time waiting for the app to work.
Add in the fact that wearing a 722g headset for hours every day can become pretty uncomfortable, and the whole experience is not one I'm looking forward to repeating soon. At least, not until some big changes are made to the hardware and software.
Barbaria is the perfect VR game for tabletop RPG fans that love playing Barbarians and Fighters – characters where fists (and axes) can solve any problems that come your way.
This asynchronous arcade adventure has two facets. The first is the dungeon-crawling brawling, where you possess your chosen champion to punch, chop and smash your way through goblins, skeletons, and other enemies. The stages are short and sweet micro-adventures, and the combat is fun. Barbaria finds a good middle point between comical and realistic for its gameplay.
The flip side is the dungeon crafting. Many of the stages you fight through are player made, and as a player, you must also create and upgrade a dungeon that you hope will best your rival warriors.
As your progress, you’ll unlock powers that let you blend these aspects; one early upgrade will see you leave your fighter’s body to float above your rival’s realm. From this god-like position, you can spawn a swarm of meteors to blast your enemies away before returning to your champion to finish off those who remain alive.
Like many other VR sandboxes, there’s not much of a story to keep you engaged. Instead, Barbaria relies on gameplay and competitive aspects to keep you coming back. If you prefer titles to have an engaging plot, this won’t be the game for you.
Additionally, the game lacks the ability to use teleportation movement – and doesn’t have too many comfort features – so you may find the experience makes you queasy if you aren’t comfortable with control-stick-based VR movement.
However, if you can handle this style of movement, and are content to simply run around and bash skeletons with a massive hammer, you’ll definitely have a blast playing Barbaria.
Not liking the look of anything on this list? Check out the VR games and apps I played in January 2023.
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Hamish is a Senior 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.