Paper Beast is a VR adventure puzzle game and introduces us to a world quite unlike any we’ve ever seen before. A malfunctioning computer program sends you into a vast digital world. Origami like creatures roam the land, their consciousness formed from streams of data and the world is quite unpredictable. Paper Beast is free until 22 April with the Play at Home 2021 program and is one of the weirdest PlayStation VR games out there.
The creatures are sentient and the story is kind of nonexistent. Most of Paper Beast is very much an art piece so you take from it what you want. For me it was sometimes a little too obscure though it was very clear the developers wanted to say something. Thankfully it’s not all about the weird and obscure vibes as there’s actually some really unique puzzle-based gameplay here.
Paper Beast is a collection of 23 levels each with a different puzzle to solve. Puzzles are given and solved organically with each level you enter you need to determine what’s wrong and how to fix it. Solutions can be as simple as coaxing the wildlife towards a goal. But you might also be sitting staring into space with zero ideas for quite a while. In later levels you can shift the literal tides of the world with certain items.
The move controllers function as telekinetic wands with the ability to grab most of the creatures and operate the plant life, move them, fling them or do whatever it takes to progress. The visual style here is something of a mixed bag as initially the vast wide-open environment seems artistic and refreshing but being forced to click around them as a formless entity is a pretty good way to kill the immersion fast. Sand globs will help to build up walkable surfaces and a Tetris looking cube will defy the physics of water to allow safe passage for your Paper Beast.
It’s tricky to describe what you actually do here without spoiling the game. The solutions aren’t always obvious and will require a good deal of logic and a whole lot of thinking. Each puzzle builds on the last as well so if you’re taught something in one level you better keep it in the back of your mind for a conundrum a full hour later. I didn’t and so some levels became a huge chore. There’s also no tutorials or hints which is the developer’s style and it’s a concept that works at times.
I’m pretty sure I accidentally glitched my way through a couple of levels just by clicking around until it let me teleport. It was either a glitch or just a really poorly designed solution. At least when you’re lost and confused in this lovely world you’re trapped in it looks pretty cool from the moonlit caverns to the blazing sand dunes I constantly found myself stopping and staring in awe at the abstract creations. Add to that the game’s incredible display of sound design with unnatural and surprising noises constantly surrounding you.
The deeper you go and the longer you play the games glossy exterior starts to show its cracks. Vast areas seemingly full of gameplay potential would just lead you to numerous dead ends. There are also quite a few cramped and empty corridors that you’ll have to mindlessly track through to get to the next stage plus being VR you’ll be teleporting through the map so a large portion of Paper Beast is just a flurry of clicks and flashing frames.
It can sometimes feel clunky and unfinished. There are traces of a great game here but so many corners seem to have been cut. Once you finish with the story, you’ll unlock your very own biome to play with in sandbox mode. You can control terrain through molding the sand or adding a splash of water. Drop in all manner of flora and fauna from across the campaign and watch as everything interacts in your very own ecosystem.
Playing this mode is fun for a few minutes but it doesn’t provide much additional challenge or any real reason to stick around and with the main campaign clocking in at only around 3 hours, Paper Beast ends up feeling rather short though it may be just the right length.
The organic puzzle solving is super rewarding but can get really tedious when the solution ends up being poorly designed. The story provides a wonderful and experimental world but often gets too wrapped up in its own fanciness for its own good. If you are looking for a weird and quick game to play you should definitely give this game a try
Available to download and play for free until 22 April 2021
Paper Beast is a weird and wonderful PSVR experience that has some fantastic puzzles but falls short on some other puzzles and is a very short game in general.