Jamie Knight
Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:36

If the name rings a bell, then you probably remember a rather addictive physics-based flash game released back in 2008, where you had to construct barely functioning vehicles which could get from A to B using some pretty crude components (wood, steel beams, wheels and of course, motors). Seeing these sad excuses for cars flip and flop there way across the 2D map was both rewarding and depressing in equal measure.

Fast forward 9 years later, and the general principle remains exactly the same. Using the PSVR Move Controllers you must construct a vehicle or mechanism that can get a glowing pink orb from the starting area, to the goal area.

Construction is fairly intuitive, which may sound odd considering you pull most of the parts you need out of a cats arse. But similar to the original you simply pick the material you want and then drag it into existence. By dragging the ends together you can combine your materials in order to form a structure; and then you can dip into the more advanced tools such as adding wheels, motors and switching the joints between loose, which allows for some degree of flexibility and movement, or welded in place.

What surprised me the most when playing was that the extra dimension doesn't really add that much to the gameplay, getting something from A to B within a 3D space is usually results in the same solutions as it's 2D predecessor.

But the sense of scale you get when creating your contraptions in VR is incredible, I would often find myself constructing goliath vehicles requiring a fair amount of stretching and standing on tip-toes to get the finishing touches on.

I also found that whilst the Move controllers don't really offer any haptic feedback other than vibration, the sheer act of building using your hands meant I felt more of a bond with my creation, which only made me even more depressed when I would hit the 'Go' button only to see it pathetically limp itself off the map almost immediately, requiring me to go back to the drawing board.

The underlying physics engine is crude but functional, and as a builder, you are not restricted to just vehicles, and can construct pretty much anything you can think of that can operate in this virtual worlds simplistic physics system.

Whilst the various levels offer unique challenges, and PSVR users will also get a dozen new levels not found in last years Steam VR release. Towards the end of the game, I found it was easier to simply build crude catapults and then fine-tune it's shot via trial and error, rather than coming up with increasingly ingenious ways of getting a vehicle to make its way around whatever obstacles the level throws are you.

Graphically the game is simplistic, set place in a dreamlike world of low-polygon clouds, untextured gouraud shaded models, and farting cats. The upside of this is that you not only get the full 120fps refresh rate on the base PS4. But for Pro users, the game has heavy supersampling and offers some of the cleanest IQ found on the platform.

The underlying premises for Fantastic Contraption is as inventive and fun today as it was 9 years ago, and whilst I was originally cynical over it's move to VR; found that the sense of scale and accomplishment but this more hands-on interpretation of the formula makes this a high recommendation.

The game is available now, for £17.99.