Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Perfect, developed and published by nDreams and tested on PSVR.
Perfect is not a game. I say this not because I question whether narrative experiences, minimalist art-house titles and so-called “walking simulators” are actual games, but because Perfect has more in common with a screensaver than the types of titles we usually cover here at GameCritics. However, I must emphasize that I don’t mean this in a disparaging way. Even minimally-interactive things can be powerful in VR by representing the format’s most innate (and obvious) specialty — tricking the player’s brain into thinking it’s somewhere else entirely.
Perfect tries its level best to capitalize on this by transporting players to one of three picturesque locations. The idea is to allow players to unwind from the hustle of non-virtual life by allowing them peaceful times at a mountain cabin, a beachside villa, or a forested campsite. Changes in the time of day can provide different moods, but the general vibe of Perfect aims for serenity and blissful solitude. As such, it’s not really a thing to play.
The lack of mechanics might make Perfect tough to classify, but its visuals are rendered in full 3D, with expansive views and carefully calibrated, natural-looking lighting and textures. The need to accommodate 3D rendering in VR leaves the polygon count below the level of, say, a triple-A non-VR shooter, but it’s clear to see that care was taken to make the views as appealing as possible. If only there were more to do in these places!
In fairness, the marketing wasn’t deceptive. nDreams have explicitly positioned Perfect as a relaxation experience, so most potential buyers shouldn’t be confused as to what they’re getting. Further, the goal is admirable — gaming as a whole is light on genuinely contemplative experiences, and these early days of VR present an opportunity to make that type of content more compelling than ever before.
Unfortunately, Perfect doesn’t quite live up to its name. The environments look good, but they can’t avoid some aliasing and blur in the textures, making it seem like one’s forgotten their glasses before going on their trip. Also, the areas seem expansive, but only offer a handful of viewing points rather than enabling a true, free-roaming experience. Some interactions are available by allowing players to pick up nearby objects, but there’s little to do with the objects beyond holding or tossing them around.
Beyond relaxing in its virtual spaces, there’s not much to do within Perfect. Music can be played, either from the game’s soundtrack or via the PS4’s Spotify app, but no internal functionality exists to stream video or have other players present, putting Perfect behind other VR-based projects like Virtual Desktop or the various art-creation programs available. For players who’ve grown past the honeymoon stage of VR where simply being in a virtual space is no longer enough, Perfect lacks compelling content.
On the other hand, Perfect delivers what it says it will, and is both reasonably handsome and inexpensive. nDreams have said that more environments are on the way, and they may yet infuse these relaxation spaces with more vigorous interactive possibilities. At the moment, though, a more appropriate title for Perfect might be “Potential”.