Solving puzzles in VR is the whole reason I love virtual reality in the first place. The tactile nature of it, picking up objects and manipulating them in virtual space, and then physically using them to interact with the environment makes for the best gameplay experience money can buy. You might have read my review of Red Matter on PlayStation VR 2 recently, so it’s no surprise that I was excited for the sequel to come to Sony’s platform. Well, now it has. Time to head back to Soviet space to solve more puzzles!
Vertical Robot put together a fantastic narrative-driven puzzler in the first game, as I said in my review, the only hitch being that it was over far too soon. The sequel takes everything the first game did well and adds a few fresh elements to create what is easily one of the best looking VR games on the market. Don’t take my word for it – here’s the first 18 minutes of the game in motion.
It’s immediately obvious that the team is aiming for the retro-futuristic look started by the first game and amping it up to the next level. Heavy on symbolism and chrome, the game presses as hard on Soviet symbolism as it is interactivity. So the story goes, one of the researchers on this station, a friend you believed to be deceased after the events of the first game, might have shown up suddenly in a space station orbiting Saturn, sending an SOS. You’ll once again play Agent Riss, along with a bit of help from fellow Agent Beta this time around as you work to unravel the mysterious reappearance of your friend.
Just like the first game, nearly every object you can see can be scanned. There are more direct story elements this time around, but a great deal of content lies in those scans. Taking a closer look at a photo might reveal a great deal about the people involved and their mission on Saturn. Just about every sign, shoulder patch, photo, and everything in between has a story to tell. To access those stories, you’ll use the gripper tools, just as in the first game. I did run into a few tracking hiccups where objects might get lodged in a table or fall behind a wall, but overall it was thankfully rare. When you do run into issues, the magnetic gripper tool can usually plasma-rope them over to you in a pinch.
The quality of the puzzles in Red Matter 2 feel a lot more even this time around. I ran into some late-stage puzzles that had me stumped thanks to some illogical leaps, but I didn’t face that this time around. Most importantly there’s a lot more of them – around 7 hours in fact, which is more than double that of its predecessor. It gives the storyline a bit more time to breathe, giving Vertical Robot more time to get us invested in the characters and scenarios they had to share.
One big change this time around is the addition of combat. Around the halfway mark, you’ll begin to encounter flying drones, turrets, and occasional human enemies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. These combat sequences are decidedly more brief than I expected, but they do shake up the formula a bit. Hopefully the team further explores this when we eventually do return for Red Matter 3.
The PlayStation VR 2 has a few improvements over the PCVR and Meta Quest release. The team went back and tightened up the controls (important as the combat was a bit fiddly on Meta), bumped up all of the textures to 4K, and smoothed everything out to a buttery-smooth 90 fps with zero reprojection. It also takes advantage of the PSVR2’s most unique feature – foveated rendering. The end result is a graphical showcase for Sony’s platform, and easily one of the best social screen games to watch if you aren’t wearing the headset yourself.
Ultimately, where Red Matter 2 shines is the same place as its predecessor – storytelling and interactivity. Sasha’s quest to find her friend immerses the player in a way few VR games ever capture, and every time you step outside and see the vastness of space, it reminds you of all the ways that VR is special.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
Red Matter 2
Red Matter 2 builds on the solid foundation established by its predecessor, giving us even better visuals, more interactivity, and all new devious puzzles to solve. It’s a true showcase of Sony’s PSVR2 platform, and a fantastic sequel to boot!