VR gamers spend countless hours casting fireballs, swinging swords, and unloading all manor firepower in all forms of combat. From zombies to rogue robots, and even other players, there’s no shortage of adversaries to put down. But, sometimes we just need to unwind and bask in a little serenity. What better way to achieve a state of bliss than throwing some paper planes in Paper Valley?
No timer counting down, no hidden enemies, no real way to fail. The entire game is built around giving you a place to unwind and toss some paper planes at targets. Hit the targets if you can, but don’t worry about running out of tries, because you won’t. Sounds like easy going. That said, let’s jump in and see how Paper Valley stacks up.
The Roots of a Dead World
The concept of Paper Valley is as simple as they come. At your own pace, you throw things at targets in order to progress. In this game, the things your throwing just happen to be paper airplanes, and the targets guide you through the world Vitei Backroom has created.
That world is void of color and pretty depressing, but hitting the targets changes all that. Each time you hit a new target, the surrounding area comes to life with vibrant color that leads you to your next target. Your job is to just keep tossing planes until all the targets are hit. Like I said, very simple.
Despite the simple concept, Paper Valley’s gameplay manages to hold some real value behind it. For instance, you have subtle control over your planes once they have left your hand. Between that and having various types of planes to at your disposal, you do get a sense of control over the action beyond just tossing paper. The target’s get progressively more challenging as you move through the levels, and you do get some subtle hints at ways you can further challenge yourself as you go.
You never actually run out of planes in the game. Once you run through your inventory, the game spawns one plane at a time so you don’t get stuck. However, when you complete a level of the game, planes in your inventory that you have collected through hitting special targets, leave your inventory and circle a giant tree in the level selection area.
That little thing gives you a bit more drive to do better, almost like points without any perceived negative vibes attached to them. It is a strange concept, but one that people who suck at throwing airplanes, and pros alike, might appreciate.
The controller setup in Paper Valley is both amazing, and incredibly frustrating. The act of throwing a paper plane in as natural as can be. This game does a fantastic job at capturing that in VR. The various types of planes will require different approaches to how you throw them, and this too is beautifully represented in VR.
Once the plane leaves your hand you have an overly sensitive, and oddly setup, method of controlling the plane to deal with. You can slightly control the path of the plane by twisting and tilting your controller. Unfortunately, this input is very sensitive and is automatically active after the plane leaves your hands. That means that when you are tossing at a target that is at an upward angle, your plane is going to react when you naturally lower your hands after the toss.
The end result is usually a nose dive. The sensitivity issue is not limited to just skyward targets. Some planes have special attributes that allow you to have greater control over them. The sensitivity of that control is so high that using planes like these feel more like a pain in the ass, than a special treat.
A World Brought to Life
Graphically, this game is very well polished. It has a cartoon feel mixed with a dreamlike state to it. When the world springs back to life, you see trees pop up and water begin to flow. The only way that this world would feel more alive, is if creatures began appearing in it. Overall, the game does a great job at making you feel like you are having an impact on the world around you.
The sound is equally well done. The music has a hypnotic theme that just eases you into a trance. Even the sound effects do a great job at keeping you in the zone. At no point did I encounter anything that broke the serenity of the game. At least when it comes to art and sound.
In for a Landing
Paper Valley is one of those games that has a great amount of quality to it but is held back by just a few issues. The main one has to be the controller setup. Not having control over the sensitivity, or having it correctly set up for the player, results in some aggravating encounters. The exact opposite of what this game sets out to do. Not having a way for the player to activate and deactivate flight control, just piles more dirt on this issue.
Both of these simple issues have a big impact when your game is as simple as Paper Valley. While they definitely do not break the game, they do break the vibe that this game has set out to create. Hopefully, this will be addressed because I really enjoy getting lost in this world. Hitting that far off target is very rewarding and the game gives you plenty of opportunity to challenge yourself, without forcing the fact.
For now, Paper Valley is an Oculus exclusive with no word yet as to if it will be headed to Steam anytime soon. You can pick up Paper Valley on the Oculus store for $16.99, but if I would recommend waiting to see if the developers are going to address the controller issues. If they do, it should make for a great addition to your library.