Horizon Call of the Mountain (Sniper)
Format: PSVR2
Genre: Action
Developer: Firesprite
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

First, the elephant in the room: this game suffers from "Sweet Baby" syndrome, and has those insufferable female lesbian character designs with the butch haircuts and abrasive personalities. But plugging nose at the characters, the rest of the game is on the bleeding edge of pushing how good a VR game can look. It's somewhat low resolution and has a bit of the trademark VR "grainy" appearance, but the material quality, screen space reflections, and overall art direction-- the lush jungles and snowy mountain peaks we're familiar with in this series by now-- are absolutely immersive, as are the various enemy robots, which are a sight to behold with actual 3D depth perception. The artists did a good job of "fence posting" where the player can go, and onto which surfaces he can climb.

The usual Hollywood music which has cursed the "triple-A" game industry for the past couple of decades is present with a vengeance, and can only be enjoyed by "check your brain at the door" normies, who don't even realize the music is playing in the first place. There is no music theory or elaborate compositions here-- just the drab violin accompaniment from the other titles in the series. The voice acting is good, although-- as alluded to previously-- the female characters are very unlikeable, and speak to the player in an overtly obnoxious, sarcastic manner. At least the protagonist is well-voiced as he huffs and puffs his mountain climbing, and the game's sound effects are razor sharp as arrows plink off of metal armor plating.

The player's two controllers operate the in-game character's two hands. Much of the game is spent climbing, and various surfaces present themselves by being chalked white, or painted yellow. These surfaces can be "grabbed" with the "L2" and "R2" buttons. The player can reach over his shoulder and press those same buttons to draw his bow: after, an arrow can be "grabbed" with the same action from the opposite hand, then pulled back, and released. Other tools, acquired during gameplay, can be utilized via the "L3" and "R3" stick buttons. The well-designed and paced levels are almost totally narrow, linear paths, but that works well in a VR-exclusive game such as this one.

If "The Message" can be ignored, Call of the Mountain is in the same company as "Half-Life: Alyx" in terms of being a blockbuster, big-budget VR release with real production values behind it. After beating the game, it's fun to replay the levels via the hub area to find all of the missed collectibles and other items by following guides. The circle-strafe, dodge-oriented combat can be fussy, especially when trying to "line up" with the inevitable tables which hold healing items such as apples. It's also easy to bang the controllers off each other accidentally during these hectic scenes. Thankfully, the game can be played in a "Seated" mode for those without a lot of real-life space in which to play, and player damage can be multiplied in the "Accessibility" menu. All-in-all, this is a worthy pack-in title for the PSVR2, and really shows off what the unit can do.

Sniper's verdict: