Review: Grolem

An action-adventure gem that requires patience

Grolem took longer than expected to make its way to PlayStation VR, and I'm afraid the game is running out of luck, which feels like too little, too late. Virtual reality is a rapidly evolving field, after all. What worked in 2022 or even in 2022 is not necessarily so brilliant in 2022.

This is where my free space was when I was reviewing Grolem. I had heard of the game a few years ago, I knew the basic premise – you play as a housebound young “dreamer” who controls stormy golems in a cordoned off town – and just remembered its existence the week last when it launched on PS4.

In the end, I can't say I was blown away, but I'm impressed with what Highwire managed to achieve. For those of us still using our PSVR headsets, Grolem is a swordfighting adventure worth exploring.

Grolem (PlayStation VR (reviewed on a PS4 Pro))
Developer: Highwire Games
Editeur: Perp Games
Released: November 15, 2022
MSRP: $ 39,99

After a slow introduction in which we get to know the protagonist Twine, her teenage sister, and their stern but caring father, Grolem offers a bit of what awaits us over the next six to seven hours.

While you're technically playing as Twine, you'll spend most of your time watching - and fighting - through the eyes of a giant Stone Grolem capable of going where humans can't: a city ancient full of precious relics (and other golems). who are not so friendly). There's more background to uncover deeper into Grolem, both on a micro and macro level, but that's the gist. When you're not crawling around looking for the next shortcut to open or an artifact to steal, you're probably fighting.

There's a satisfying action-adventure here, especially for people who like pretty hidden collectibles that serve to tell stories, but the heart of Grolem is its face-to-face sword combat. You'll twist and rotate your arm and wrist at high speed to deflect swings and counterattack at the right time. The fight is exciting. it pumps my blood. Even with a stronger health item to back me up and a far-reaching halberd, I still feel tension when facing the lowest golems.

That's the idea. Death is supposed to be consecutive. When you bite the dust in Grolem, you lose your current gear and return to a central point in town. So it's best to play with caution and keep an eye out for hotkeys at all times. I never "missed" any essentials, but I did worry about them!

Warning: this will be one of those virtual reality games where everyone's results will vary depending on their setup and comfort level. For me, manual tracking worked like a charm – at least most of the time. I definitely lost a few skirmishes which seemed unfair to me, and which can be very bad when you have to walk for a long time. There's also the game's new movement system: to walk, you tilt your head forward while holding down the trigger on your PlayStation Move, as well as the principle of full play in the game. For increased immersion, the chamber of Twine is visible in your outskirts when you are a Golem.

With or without VR experience, that's a lot to take in. It took me a good hour and a half before I was really comfortable. But once everything clicked, I was walking smoothly and battling with just one PlayStation Move controller. (Alternatively, you can hold a DualShock 4 in your other hand, but that control scheme isn't ideal.) In the best-case scenario, your Grolem will feel like an extension of your body, and that's ultimately where I'm going. landed once I learned the quirks and how to work with them, not against them.

Beyond all those hectic duels, the quieter moments spent exploring the city are a pleasure in themselves thanks to a well-layered world design and a bright, serene soundtrack from Halo composer Martin O'Donnell. I don't really care about tracking down every last relic, but I've been doing everything I can to try and find all of the Collector Echoes - short audio messages from Twine's mother that help fill in the gaps in the story.

Golem's range is about right - no VR qualifier required. It feels like a full experience. A different type of enemy or two could have gone a long way (harpoon harpoons aren't enough), but I'm mostly happy.

I want to come back for a few more hours, and hopefully the spotting quirks will have been ironed out by then. Highwire is looking to add more control options, too. If you have any doubts about the current controls or possible discomfort, I would advise you to beware.

When it all comes together, Grolem delivers some of the best PlayStation VR combat I've been in and a story worth hearing. Frustration ensues when turned off, even a little. If you can tolerate the flashbacks and don't mind dealing with occasional quirks of VR technology, you'll have an unforgettable time.

(This review is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.)

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