Virtual reality is still in its infancy. Whilst over the years the technology has developed and grown stronger, I think we are still some way away from experiencing a truly perfect VR experience.
Sony hope to change that with their new VR headset, the PSVR2. But even then, as I mentioned in my review of the PSVR2, it’s still far from perfect.
So once again, we start to see upgrades and PSVR2 ports of previous VR games, many of which have transitioned from the PSVR1 & Oculus Quest 1 and 2. An Indie company called 17-BIT first released Song in the Smoke in 2021, a survival exploration game with a very unique art style.
This latest edition of the game uses the power of PS5 to make the game run smoother and look better than before. Whilst this is true, it still holds many of its previous issues and is not perfect.
Focusing on exploration, combat and resource management, its simplistic nature allows the player to become immersed in a world that is both frightening and surreal; the first time I saw the crows looking down at me and then a head appear was truly unsettling, to say the least.
One thing that this game has in abundance from the very start is atmosphere. This is heightened by the amazing 3D sound stage, where I could hear the rustling of leaves, branches breaking and insects chirping. And then you hear the squawking of the crows overheard, which really had me constantly looking around. When night falls, you can hear the footsteps of something in the darkness following your every step but is nowhere to be seen.
I never really knew what was happening most of the time, and the game wants you to do your own thing. There are purple markers that will lead you in the correct direction, but the game doesn’t hold your hand.
Like most games of this type, you need to be careful how often you use something as at some point it will break or run out, such as swinging a club enough times or wasting arrows. Song in the Smoke: Rekindled provides you with plenty of crafting materials, though your inventory is not very big, so you need to choose carefully what you are carrying.
Your inventory opens up as a cloak and is very easily accessible, which makes it ideal to get to when you need to quickly make arrows or fix your bow in the middle of a fight.
The interface is kept to a minimum, letting you use your left wrist to see your levels of hunger and fatigue. In order to prevent starvation and exhaustion, you will need to set up camp, build a fire and keep it lit, as well as grab some in-game sleep.
The adventure itself is broken into stages, collecting a number of glowing stones and a set-piece at the end of each level. The majority of the time you will be doing mundane stuff, like cooking food, collecting resources in the wild to make weapons, all the while making sure that you survive what the night might bring if you let the fire go out.
When it comes to survival, hyenas, lions and other weird and magical animals will be wanting you dead. So, it’s always important to stay prepared. Using what looks like a slate with a map drawn on it, you can get your bearings but only as you explore and open new parts of the map up.
All that being said, when it comes to the actual upgrade to its PSVR1 predecessor and the “Rekindled” name, there really isn’t a great deal of difference between the two versions of the game. The haptics on the headset is a nice feature, as well as a new controller setting for moving around, but I still found myself becoming a little nauseated when moving. But there are definitley loads of different settings available to change this, which will help anyone who suffers from VR dizzy spells.
The power of the PS5 does give a boost to the graphical detail and fluidity of the game, compared to the PSVR1. The changes to this version are subtle, and unless you really want to see what has changed from the previous version, it’s difficult to recommend buying again.
Platform: PSVR 2
Release Date: 22nd February 2023