The original Green Hell, an open-world multiplayer survival sim set in the Amazon jungle, came out on PC and consoles back in 2019 to generally favorable reviews. Survival sims are a dime a dozen, but this one provides a hardcore experience whilst delivering an engaging narrative. Thanks to the game’s initial success, the developers have created two virtual reality versions of it, one for PC VR, and the other for the Meta Quest. It’s not clearly stated, but there are actually staggering differences between these 2 VR ports. The PC VR version is far more complex and advanced compared to the Quest one, which is scaled down considerably due to hardware limitations.
When I heard of the PSVR2 version of the game being announced, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for what the developers could achieve on extremely powerful hardware. Unfortunately, Green Hell VR on the PSVR2 is a complete letdown. It’s a disappointing port of the Meta Quest version of the game. Aside from the visuals being a tad bit crisper and more detailed, there is nothing different between playing it on the powerful PlayStation 5 versus playing it on an old Oculus device. For starters, this version of Green Hell is not open world at all, and instead employs an illusion of being open-world with the endless jungle in the horizon. There is no true exploration as the game just blocks off areas that it doesn’t want you to go in.
Alright, let’s talk a bit about the actual game itself. You take on the role of a famous anthropologist named Jake Higgins, who finds himself lost in a literal green hell as he tries to navigate his surroundings to find his lost wife. Things go wrong; you get attacked, fall down a waterfall, and wake up with a mild case of amnesia. The game features both a story mode and a survival mode, with the latter just testing how long you can survive before you die or run out of resources. It’s nice to see the game offer 4 different difficulty levels, ranging from “Tourist of the Jungle” to “King of the Jungle”, so those who prefer a less punishing experience can still enjoy the game.
Gameplay works how you would expect it to in any survival sim. You only have one goal: survive! Easier said than done, because this game does not hold your hand. It is tough… Be sure to constantly monitor your watch for your health and fatigue levels. Your next objective is always listed in your trusty journal, along with any active food effects you have on you. It’s time to start scavenging and collecting everything you can. Beware, because every luscious biodiversity in the jungle can kill you or at least cause you serious harm. Don’t worry too much, though, because every death you face will be a lesson well learned. You wanted to pick up that cute colorful frog? Well bright color equals poison and you, my friend, are about to die. On the other hand, combat is quite enjoyable, especially after you snagged yourself a machete, bow, and spear, so that you can hunt for food easier and engage in fights with the natives.
Green Hell does an excellent job of making you feel the desperation and vulnerability of being lost in the jungle. You’ll have to find food, water, and shelter while also managing your health and mental well-being. You won’t even have a map of the area until you’ve found one. Got a cut? Make a bandage. Feel cold? Start a fire. There is no one out there to help you but yourself.
The crafting system, though a bit challenging to master at first in VR, becomes intuitive with practice and the game does guide you through the easy parts to craft. The addition of VR-specific mechanics, such as physically reaching out to interact with objects or using the motion controllers to start fires and craft items, enhances the overall experience. However, some might find the controls a bit finicky at times, especially when trying to manipulate small objects. This is exacerbated with the eye tracking as it isn’t implemented super well and sometimes doesn’t work even if you’re staring straight at an item.
There are many disappointing differences between the PSVR2 Port and the PC VR version. While the PC VR version features one large open-world map, the PSVR2 port contains smaller zones that try to act as an illusion to a bigger world, with the illusion being broken by unnecessary loading screens. The Quest/PSVR version’s crafting system requires more physical participation than the PC VR counterpart. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and depends on what you’re looking for in a VR game. That being said, the PC VR version definitely comes closest to the original non virtual reality version of Green Hell. There’s just no satisfaction of true exploration in this version. Additionally, the PSVR2 version sadly does not launch with cooperative play, although the developers have promised it later down the line. For $29.99, you’re far better off purchasing another version of the game for a much cheaper price. It’s even more evident how lame of a port this is considering the pre-rendered flatscreen cutscenes that are played rather than reconstructed cutscenes specifically for VR.
What are the saving graces of this re-release of Green Hell on the PSVR2? Well, there is haptic feedback when using the Sense controllers of the PSVR2, which is a definite plus. The graphics are definitely better too. The lush, dense Amazonian environment is beautifully recreated in VR, and the level of immersion is truly remarkable. The towering trees, the vibrant flora, and the wildlife all contribute to making you feel like you’re truly in the heart of the jungle. It’s an impressive feat that showcases the capabilities of VR technology. The developers also took into account the different degrees of motion sickness a player could get when playing in VR, as there are tons of options to tweak how the camera moves and the sensitivity of controls. Aside from the main campaign and included survival mode, the game also offers additional challenges to complete and even an online leaderboard if you want to get competitive.
Green Hell VR
Green Hell VR on the PlayStation VR2 is a competent and immersive survival simulator set in the gorgeous but deadly Amazon forest. It’s a downright shame that this version is just a copy-pasted port of the Meta Quest version, and doesn’t include many of the complex features that the PC VR version contains. Nonetheless, the game is a worthwhile hardcore experience for those who have never played any version of Green Hell before. For anyone who has, it’s a tough sell. All I can say is, what a missed opportunity to take this game to new heights.