Game review: Horizon Call of the Mountain (PSVR 2)
Guerrilla Games hit it out of the park when it released the first Horizon Zero Dawn video game in 2017 for the PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles. The open-world action-adventure game had a unique setting and also included one of the best video game storylines I have ever seen. The developer followed this up with a direct sequel called Horizon Forbidden West last year for the PS5.
While we may have to wait a long time for another direct sequel in the series, a spinoff game is available this year on PS5 called Horizon Call of the Mountain. The main thing you need to know about this game is the fact that it’s a PSVR 2 exclusive. If you don’t have the PSVR 2, you cannot play this game at all!
Unlike the other two Horizon video games, you do not control Aloy in Horizon Call of the Mountain. Instead, in this game, you assume the role of Ryas, who is a former Shadow Carja. One of his main goals in the game is to find his missing brother named Urid. This task is easier said than done because he lives in a world full of angry robotic animals.
At the start of the game, you get a better idea of the type of adversity that Ryas has to face up against. Ryas and a couple of his friends are on a kayak ride, and you are introduced to many of the robotic animals in the game. I have to say I was struck in awe the first time I set my eyes on a Tallneck and Thunderjaw in the game.
Graphically, Horizon Call of the Mountain is one of the best-looking PSVR 2 games I’ve played so far. It may not be as realistic-looking as Kayak VR: Mirage, but it still looks pretty decent, thanks to its natural environments. That being said, the level design is more linear, so you cannot explore a large open world like the other games in the series.
Since the game is linear, walking and running isn’t the thing you will do most in this game. The most repetitive activity that you will do in Horizon Call of the Mountain is rock climbing. Basically, you could call this game Horizon Rock Climbing Simulator because climbing is this game’s main method of travelling.
That’s not to say that the rock climbing physics are bad, though. You use the two PSVR 2 Sense controllers that act like your hands. You use the back triggers to grip onto a ledge, and you move your arms and hands to move. The game thankfully adds white paint to ledges to guide you on where you need to climb next.
Aside from rock climbing, Ryas has access to a range of different tools and weapons to help him fight and traverse the harsh environment in this game. The most prominent weapon that you will use in this entire game is Ryas’ trusty bow and arrow. Much like Aloy, Ryas has access to different types of arrow ammo that can exploit the weaknesses of certain enemies in the game.
Using the bow and arrow is pretty cool because you use one controller to hold the bow and the other to pull back the arrow. You can also use auto-aim in the accessibility menu to make things easier if you want to as well.
The physics of using the bow and arrow is quite accurate, and it feels satisfying when you finally kill an enemy.
Ryas also has some tools to help him navigate through the levels. One of my favourite tools in the game is a grappling hook that you can temporarily swing like Spider-Man. Another cool tool is a type of shuriken that you can throw to cut ropes to open bridges and doors.
Speaking of navigation, you can press triangle to highlight where Ryas needs to go next. Pressing triangle shows you footsteps and other white markers telling you where to climb or walk to next. I thought this was really helpful because sometimes I’d lose my bearings while I was shaking my head to look around where to go.
When it comes to boss fights, I initially hated fighting enemies in this game. The bosses felt like bullet sponges because you needed to shoot a TON of arrows at them before they died. There were also numerous boss fights where you had to face up to three enemies at the same time! Not to mention some players might get sick during boss fights as you have to quickly strafe and move your head to dodge their attacks!
Thankfully, the accessibility menu saved the day again because I found out you could increase the game sliders to make your attacks more powerful. I found the default setting to be too low, as my arrows were ineffective against enemies. By increasing the damage slider, boss fights felt fairer and more manageable.
That being said, there were still some issues and glitches that I encountered while playing this game. Sometimes Ryas would fail to grab onto objects, while other times, he would fall off ledges even though I used the grab button. I’m hoping these issues are patched out when the game is released for everyone later this month.
Outside of the main single-player campaign, there are two other game modes that you can access via the main menu. First, there’s the Challenge Hub which is an area where you can practice your combat skills. There’s a great little mini-game in this area where you have to strike targets with your bow and arrow in order to get the highest score.
The other game mode you can do is Robot Safari. This is where you ride on a kayak, and you can admire the scenery to look at the many machines that are included in the Horizon universe. This game mode is great for those that just want to see what VR is like without playing the main game itself.
Overall, Horizon Call of the Mountain is easily the best AAA-quality VR game I have played for the PSVR 2. The single-player campaign is lengthy, and it introduces some interesting and new game mechanics. The only issues are some minor bugs, and boss fights can also get annoying with multiple enemies onscreen.