When I was a kid, I used to love to sit and build cool things with my Erector sets. The sets came with little motors that used two D-cell batteries and you could make things that would actually move. I remember some of my more developed ideas, using Rube Goldberg-like contraptions to create strange new things for my Transformers, GI Joes, and Star Wars figures to fight. I had a cool childhood. I bring this up, because the new game Fantastic Contraption, for the Playstation VR, has taken me back to those days of my youth, as now I sit in my living room as a full-grown adult building cool things in a virtual reality world, and the experience is incredibly enlightening.
Fantastic Contraption, developed by Northway Games & Radial games, tasks players with moving a little pink blob from one area of the play surface to a designated “home” area (which is also a pink, gelatinous zone), and the game gives me ample tools to get the job done. How it is done is completely up to me. A tiny little cat produces the various parts needed to build, including rods, wheels that move in various directions, dependent on how I set them up, and connectors, among other materials.
The freedom given to the player is astounding, and using the PSVR to create a fully realized 3D world in which to work in is crazy to me. I can completely walk around my building platform and see my creations in every dimension. I can use trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t. I can “eye-ball” trajectories before I launch my creations toward the goal. Pure freedom.
Using a single Move controller to grab parts and attach them, to move and distort, as needed, gives me full control to create. Two Move controllers gives me greater control in resizing the rods and parts. It can be played both ways. And finally getting that blob to its home is an absolute thrill. I have physically pumped my fists in the air with my successes. And as the next level appears, my heart thumps with the thrill of the greater challenge. And they do get incredibly challenging.
Players use the Move controller to put on an in-game helmet to save their best designs, and after a few levels, I forget that I’m playing a game, as I’m so focused on creating, solving the levels, and sliding on the helmet to save, that I’m truly living in this strange VR world.
There are 50 levels to conquer, each one getting more and more complicated, forcing the player to not only think outside the box, but to think in three dimensions. Constantly. At its heart, Fantastic Contraption is a puzzle game, but I’m way more into the building aspects than trying to solve and move on. And I’ve made some ridiculous looking, yet fully-functional contraptions. The PSVR rig works near perfectly to help me achieve my goals, as I can shut out the world completely and just work, tinkering like some mad scientist. I’ve not had this much fun with a PSVR game, and Fantastic Contraption truly excites me as to what this new technology can do for games, puzzle or otherwise.
When I’m in the VR world, I once again feel like that chubby kid with his Erector sets, tinkering, modifying, creating things that worked in real life. And Fantastic Contraption recaptures all of that for me. I cannot remember the last time a game of any kind has triggered those emotions, and for that very reason, I highly recommend Fantastic Contraption to anyone with a PSVR or HTC Vive unit. You too might be transported, mind, body, and spirit, back to your childhood, sitting there, using your imagination to create fantastic things that made all the sense in the world to you.
Fantastic Contraption is available now for the Playstation VR and HTC Vive. This review is based on a PSVR review code provided by the publisher.
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