Review: Island Time VR (PS4)

Island Time VR is a virtual reality, survival game in which you are stranded on an island with nothing but Carl the Crab – voiced by Greg Miller – to keep you company. Your aim is to survive as long as your depleting health will allow by consuming any food you can find, coconuts from trees, fish from the sea, or even a pesky seagull who keeps trying to steal your meals.

To begin you are given a log, a couple of rocks, and some bamboo which you must use to source yourself some food. From your position, which you won’t be able to move from for the entirety of the game, you can reach everything required to survive. The enjoyable part of Island Time is figuring out what to do with the resources you are provided, however once you’ve learned the basics of crafting a spear and lighting a fire there’s really not much more to the game in terms of progression.

The gameplay gets very repetitive very quickly as there isn’t much progression once you’ve worked out how to fish with a spear. This isn’t that enjoyable either due to the inaccuracy of the motion controls. You’re required to use two motion controllers throughout the game, one in each hand, however this can often be an issue especially when trying to thrust your spear in the direction of a leaping fish. Often the spear flickers or shakes and what looked and felt like a direct hit doesn’t get registered and the fish swims free. Frustratingly you have to keep attempting this as there isn’t really another good source of food, so you will have to continue stabbing in the direction of these fish in the hope of getting lucky; it really does feel very unfair and repetitive.

Your only company on the island is a crab called Carl that can of course talk and boy does it abuse its right to, with constant jibber-jabber and funny but irritating remarks on what’s going on. The voice acting for the crab is really well done and by far the highlight of the entire game, voiced by none other than Greg Miller from Kinda Funny, which is a perfect match up as the crab can be kind of funny at points.

Island Time unfortunately suffers from a lot of game-breaking bugs that make the whole experience frustrating and unenjoyable. For instance, we played several runs where items that we needed to survive would just disappear or fall out of reach because of the wonky physics. We even started a game and our starting log didn’t even appear so we had no way to light a fire.

Another major issue was the design of the game, as being fixed to the spot and the positions of some of the items meant you had to stretch as far as possible to reach them causing the motion controllers to leave the play area. Also, due to this stretching to reach items a lot of room is required to even be able to play the title as intended, so those people without a big space for their PlayStation VR can rule this one out. These issues resulted in many runs that resulted in us dying within a matter of just a couple of minutes sapping all the enjoyment out of the game.

Fortunately, the game’s presentation is lovely, with a visually charming, cartoony style not too dissimilar to Job Simulator, which suits virtual reality perfectly. Although there’s not much to look at, the simplicity definitely works with this title. The music, sound, and voicing of the crab is equally as charming and upbeat combining well with the visuals. It’s such a shame that the same can’t be said for the gameplay. 

Conclusion

Island Time VR’s best attributes – the visuals and the voice acting – are unfortunately overshadowed by some very major flaws in repetitive gameplay, a very short running-time, and game-breaking bugs. If you are looking for a new friend, Carl the Crab will certainly suffice, but if you’re looking for a top-notch VR survival title, we’d suggest you swimming the other way.

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