Seasons greetings one and all and welcome to this year’s exciting instalment of the Ian’s VR Corner Top Ten PSVR list where I will be going over my top ten favourite PSVR games of 2021. As per usual, the following list is completely my opinion and it only features games that I myself have played, but please do share the love for your favourite PSVR games of 2021 in the comments below!
You can check out the video version of this list just below these words, where you can see footage of each game featured. If reading is more your thing though, you’ll find my entire top ten list just under that.
10 – Neko Atsume VR: Kitty Collector
Neko Atsume VR: Kitty Collector may not be the most in-depth PSVR game ever released and technically it’s been out in Japan since 2018, but here in the West, it arrived at just the right time, delivering us some much needed, ultra cute escapism.
As Neko Atsume VR is a stationary experience, this adorable cat-collecting phenomenon is the perfect introduction to PSVR for cat-loving newcomers of all ages, and you won’t even need to fork out for Move Controllers as the DualShock 4 is used to navigate the game’s simple menus and interact with the legions of cute cats on offer. While Neko Atsume VR: Kitty Collector can also be enjoyed in flat mode by any Playstation owners who don’t have access to a PSVR the best way to play the game is of course in VR, because here, you can use a collection of cat toys to play with your kitties and quite honestly that’s the best bit.
Neko Atsume VR isn’t a game that’ll keep you busy for long periods of time but that’s because it’s not designed to be played that way. Just check in once in a while to see what new cats have visited your yard, then sit back and chill out while you feed them treats, take photos of them and buy them toys. It’s hardly very deep, but it is absolutely delightful, it’s a great way to destress and it’s easily the most adorable VR game ever created.
9 – Alvo
There’s been a couple of competitive multiplayer PSVR games released this year, but the one I enjoyed playing the most, by far, has to have been Alvo. It’s a simple arena shooter at heart, but the speed of the action keeps the adrenaline flowing unlike many other games of its type. Honestly, if you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to actually be INSIDE a Call of Duty deathmatch, this game will give you the answer.
What really makes this game for me though is the ability to play it with the Aim controller. Being able to hold what feels like an actual gun, up to your face and aim down the sights as you sweep through the levels is absolutely thrilling and super immersive. Taking down an enemy feels awesome this way and you can really live out your action hero fantasies by head shotting enemies, ducking behind cover to reload and then popping out again to go on another rampage.
It’s fast, furious and a lot of fun, which is why it’s sad to see that the lobbies are already pretty empty. The game will populate low player count matches with very simple bots, which means you can still play the game when no one else is about, but it just doesn’t feel as exciting as when you’re in a skin of your teeth battle against human opponents. If Alvo’s lobbies were still as full as they were when this game launched, it would have made it much higher up this list, so if you have an Aim controller and a hankering to use it, pick up this game and let’s try to bring it back to life.
8 – Arashi: Castles of Sin
Arashi: Castles of Sin is as close to a VR version of Tenchu: Stealth Assassins as you can get. Set in feudal Japan, you play as a shinobi assassin named Kenshiro, but the true star of the show here is your faithful hound, Haru. Haru accompanies you on your missions and she’ll distract enemies for you at your command, making it easier to dispatch them without an alarm being raised. But if you don’t want to do that, you can just chill with her at your dojo and give her scritches, something that often triggers some super cute animations.
During the actual missions though, there are plenty of other, more traditional weapons shinobi at your disposal, from a katana and a dagger, through to a bow and shuriken stars. Not only this but you also have a grappling hook hanging from your tool belt too which you can use to reach hidden routes around each map. Will you climb to the rooftops and snipe away with your bow or will you stride in through the main gates and set your dog on one of the guards before engaging another in a face-to-face duel? The way you approach your missions is completely up to you and that’s what makes this game feel so exciting to play.
Arashi may not have been the most polished of PSVR titles on launch but its developers listened to all the criticism and have since released various updates which have significantly improved its melee combat, AI and weapon balancing, making it way more satisfying, and challenging, to play. It may not be the best VR stealth-em-up to feature on this year’s list, but sneaking your way through the levels with Haru at your side is well worth the price of admission!
7 – Doom 3 VR Edition
Doom 3 definitely split opinions with a rusty chainsaw when it came out back in the day but as far as I’m concerned, the VR remake of this action-packed monster-closet survival horror is a perfect fit for PSVR.
Although the old-school, sci-fi visuals look pretty smudged at first, you soon get used to Doom 3 VR Edition’s low res look and after half an hour or so in the headset, these retro aesthetics soon start to feel right. I love the chunkiness of the visuals and blasting demon after demon with the game’s amped up weaponry never gets dull, especially if you’re playing using the aim controller. One major complaint I do have with the game though is the bizarre scale of the characters, especially those of the humans, whose squat builds and tiny heads looked very silly indeed and robbed the game of some of its immersion.
While it’s definitely an old school shooter at heart, and as such will probably appeal more to older gamers, the huge campaign and its accompanying DLCs which are all included in the package, will give you many hours of game to enjoy. What really impressed me though was just how scary it all was. I’m pretty brave when it comes to horror games, but this one had me yelping like I was on a haunted rollercoaster and as such hardly a dull minute was had.
I loved Doom 3 when I played it on the OG Xbox and revisiting it this year in VR was an absolute treat for me. It may not sit as high in other peoples PSVR games of the year lists, but I appreciated the effort to port an old favourite and hope this move will signal more remakes of classic games in the future.
6 – Sniper Elite VR
Sniper Elite VR is a strange one for me because, while I really enjoyed my time with the game, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by the way it was structured. The traditional, flat Sniper Elite games feature huge, open-world maps but Sniper Elite VR goes against the grain by offering a collection of bite-sized missions that, especially in the early hours of the campaign, can be easily completed in 10 minutes or less.
While this format works great if you’re new to VR and need regular breaks, being constantly pulled in and out of the action does have a massive impact on the immersion and seasoned VR enthusiasts may find this stop-start nature quite aggravating. Thankfully in later levels you do start to feel a lot more freedom and in these moments Sniper Elite VR really begins to capture the atmosphere of the traditional games.
As you’d hope, the weapon handling here is top notch and the swapping, firing and reloading of the guns is pretty much stress free. The stars of the show though are undoubtedly the sniper rifles, which benefit massively from having fully virtual scopes to peer through. The way these scopes are modelled in Sniper Elite VR is pretty much perfect. The magnification works really well, there’s a curve to the lenses which bends the edge of the image slightly and you can see the blurred innards of the scope when you’re not holding it directly up to your eye. It really is a masterclass in how to do scoped weapons in VR so, if you’re looking for somewhere to go to fire a selection of accurately modelled WW2 sniper rifles, look no further.
5 – After the Fall
Just like Left 4 Dead, the game that has so obviously inspired it, After the Fall has been designed with 4 player co-op in mind and it’s this focus on multiplayer that really makes the game shine. It plays great in solo with A.I. too, if you don’t have any IRL friends who own a VR headset and were worried about that, but it’s also super easy to gather together a team of fellow humans in the game’s brilliant 80s arcade inspired lobby thanks to the friction free cross-play that runs between every platform the game is available on.
If you’ve played a Left 4 Dead style game before, you’ll know exactly what to expect here in terms of gameplay, but thankfully the added immersion offered by the PSVR means that every encounter feels way more dangerous and surprising than they would do in flat. Shooting the White Walker-esq ‘Snowbreed’ feels great, especially when dual wielding pistols, but there are plenty of other guns to choose from and each can be customised in a variety of ways. With 5 campaign missions and a PvP mode available at launch, there’s a decent amount of game on offer, and even though some of the levels do feel rather short, there’s plenty of incentive to replay them in order to earn extra weapon upgrades.
Overall, the core gameplay grind in After the Fall isn’t exactly groundbreaking and it definitely feels like a case of ‘been there, done that but in flat’, but the impressive social aspects and the added immersion offered by VR elevates the whole experience so you snow it’ll make a great addition to your library.
4 – I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar
I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar may not be the longest VR game out there but this fiendishly fun VR escape room game is still a sight for sore spies.
If you’ve played the first game in the series, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. It’s another highly polished, espionage-based escape room game that delivers just as many jokes as it does unique and intricate puzzles. I Expect You To Die 2 is a seated experience so it’s perfectly suited for VR beginners, but its imaginative mysteries will provide plenty of standout moments for experienced users too. Each mission plonks you down in front of a set of interactive objects and you’ll need to work out what does what and what goes where in order to stop yourself from expiring at the hands of an evil mastermind. Successfully solving these missions can often boil down to trial and error as much as it does brain power but when the pressure is on and you’re in full puzzle-solving flow it feels genuinely thrilling to play.
There’s so much ingenuity and originality to each puzzle and I Expect You To Die 2 never uses the same trick twice. This means you’ll be constantly surprised by the results of your fiddling, even though most of the time those results will culminate in some form of accidental and unexpected death. Thankfully, just like the original, it seems to be more a case of quality over quantity here so while your spy career may be brief, you definitely won’t feel like you’ve wasted your money(penny).
3 – Song in the Smoke
Song in the Smoke is the hardcore prehistoric survival simulator you never knew you wanted. Or at least I never knew I wanted it, but then I played it and now I can’t get enough of it.
You start Song in the Smoke with nothing but you soon learn that everything you need to survive can be found on the ground and, once scavenged, can be used to craft the usual things like bows, arrows and clubs. But what’s super cool about this is that you need to physically craft everything yourself, so once you’ve worked out how to make a knife, you can use its blade to whittle small sticks into arrows, or carve large ones into the handles for clubs and so on and so forth. Even building fires is done physically, by placing sticks down into a circle of rocks and then striking stones together to create sparks and all of this comes together to make an incredibly believable experience.
Just like any survival game you’ve also got to manage your hunger, so it’s lucky that there are plenty of animals out there to hunt. Unfortunately though, you’re not the only predator out there and this can make things pretty scary, especially if you’re stumbling around at night without a torch. If I had to give it one minor nitpick, it would be the fact that you have to use teleportation jumps instead of physical climbing to scale walls. This means navigating the environment isn’t as immersive as it could be, but aside from that small detail, the rest of Song in the Smoke is an utterly absorbing adventure.
Although there is a goal to the game – find 3 magic stones on each of the seven huge maps to spawn a boss fight and then move onto the next area – once song in the Smoke sinks its teeth into you, chances are you’ll be having so much fun with the survival aspects, you’ll forget there’s actually any point to the game, other than just being there, enjoying the moment and being one with the world.
2 – Fracked
Fracked is a dream come true for PSVR owners and its non-stop action and breath-taking set pieces will have you fully immersed in the game world from the word go. It perfectly utilises the PSVR’s motion controls in a way that makes every little interaction feel incredibly cool and best of all, it trusts you as a player enough to give you the freedom to choose how you fight your own battles. By all accounts this should be my VR game of the year, which is why I think I took it so badly when I found out that Fracked’s run-time is a little under 3 hours.
Fracked’s combat is fine-tuned to perfection and it makes every shootout feel thrilling. From the way you can hold onto the scenery to push and pull yourself in and out of cover, to the simplified reload mechanics that favours arcadey action over fiddly simulation, this is a game that will instantly make you feel like a bad-ass. You can jump on zip lines and fire as you slide down. You can use the game’s multi-floored arenas to confuse and flank enemies and you can turn them into fleshy-fireworks with a well timed red barrel explosion. Pretty much every little action you perform in this game is “whoop!” worthy.
Even with its brief run time, at a £20 price point, Fracked is a must-buy for the PSVR and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Be warned though, even with the many comfort options, it may be a little too intense for newcomers and you will need two Move controllers to be able to play it as no other control schemes are offered.
1 – Hitman VR
Hitman VR is easily one of the most immersive PSVR games I’ve played to date and even though it came out at the beginning of the year, hardly any games have come close to toppling it from the top spot on this list.
Its fabulously detailed environments look gorgeous in VR and during my playthrough, I often spent just as much time sightseeing as I did seeing targets through the sights of my guns. There’s just so much game on offer here, and that’s before you factor in the ability to be able to play through the entirety of Hitman’s 1, 2 and all the DLC levels in VR as well – if you have them in your library of course. But, even if you do only own Hitman 3, this is still one of the meatiest games available for the headset and every minute spent exploring its devious sandbox levels is an absolute joy. These playgrounds are meticulously crafted virtual worlds that feel both alive and lived in and to have achieved all this, even with the graphical limitations of the PSVR, is quite the accomplishment.
It’s not all VR sunshine and roses though. Instead of plumping for motion controls with twin move controllers, or a relatively simple Dual Shock 4 control scheme like that of Resident Evil 7, Hitman in VR opts for a hybrid of both. It’s an odd choice and it definitely has its ups and downs, but basically put, you control the majority of 47 with normal controller movements but his murderous right arm is motion controlled using the light bar on the DualShock. That means moving around the levels with the thumbstick is pretty easy, but the below par tracking of the PSVR can often ruin even the best laid plans, especially if those plans involve trying to choke someone out from behind.
Even taking this criticism into account though, Hitman VR is still a top notch virtual reality experience. Sure it’s scrappy and clumsy at times but its wonderfully replayable levels provide countless opportunities for experimentation and this freedom only accentuates the immersive nature of the gameplay. In my opinion, you won’t find a better PSVR game to play this year, and to be honest, it’d do pretty well against the games featured in my previous top ten lists too. Get it on your face!
And that, my PSVR loving friends, is that! I hope you enjoyed this look back at my favourite PSVR games of 2021 but if I did miss out on any of your to picks, do remember to tell us about them in the comments below! While this year’s list absolutely proves that the PSVR is still going strong in 2021, 2022 could be even better for Playstation owning VR lovers IF Sony decides to choose next year to release the PSVR 2. No one knows for sure if that’s going to happen yet, of course, but when I’m not locked away in my headset, I’ll be keeping both eyes peeled for info, so stick with me here in my VR Corner in 2022 and, fingers crossed, we can all find out together.
If this list is the first you’ve seen of my VR coverage by the way, Ian’s VR Corner happens every Sunday so do head on over to our YouTube channel and subscribe for more and click that bell icon for updates whenever they’re uploaded. Oh and of course, if you’re watching this video when it first comes out, do have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year!