When PlayStation VR first released, it came with a collection of free mini-games called Playroom VR. In this collection, the PlayStation world first experienced a third-person action game called Robot Rescue. People started clamoring for a full experience like this, and until now, we haven’t had one.
Enter Mervils: A VR Adventure. This colorful and robust action adventure game for PlayStation VR promises not only a fully realized experience, but the third-person action we’ve all been asking for. Now that it’s here, should we all rejoice and vote with our wallets, or does this fall short of expectations? Let’s take a look!
A Lone Hero Sets Out to Save The World
Mervils has the kind of story you would expect from a Mario/Zelda type of game. The game opens with the legend of a book that has protected the Mervil people for centuries. Their arch-nemesis, Balazar the Evil, is plotting to steal the book for himself and use its power for his own devices.
To save the five Mervil worlds, you must collect the scattered pages of this lost book and return its power so you can use it to defeat him and save the Mervil worlds. It’s a classic and whimsical setup that had me thinking back to my days of Zelda on the Nintendo 64.
As the story progresses, you’ll interact with countless Mervil people through each of the game’s major worlds. Some of them will share their story, others will offer advice, and plenty of them will give you side quests in exchange for those all-important pages.
Mervils isn’t going for a deep and life-changing story, so the development is there, but it takes a backseat to the overall gameplay. It’s a cool story that does a great job of setting your objective in place and explains the gameplay loop.
My only complaint with it, is the voice acting. It’s fine for the most part, but there are definitely times when it can be on the cheesy side. It’s a shame too, because the dialogue is pretty well-written, but some of the actors don’t sound like their heart’s in it.
It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it does break the immersion slightly when the quality of the voice acting dips below what you would expect from a game like this. That being said, I do love the sounds the main character makes.
He (or she), never speaks, but they do make a funny hopping sound when you jump. There’s also a hilarious half-scream that happens when you fall off the side of the world to certain doom.
So, the story does its part, and while the voice acting can stray into lower levels of quality, the overall tale here is what you would expect, with a few nice touches and some well-written dialogue.
Third-Person VR, Thy Name is Mervils
Now to the part you’re all waiting for. Does Mervils provide that same amazing third-person experience that we first glimpsed in Robot Rescue? The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. For starters, the game does have some comfort settings in place.
In terms of the camera, you can opt for a fixed perspective or a traditional third-person view. You can also opt for a staggered camera movement, or a smooth camera with a wide range of sensitivity options.
I knew I wanted the full experience, so I turned on the smooth camera, set the sensitivity to 12, and immediately did away with the fixed perspective in favor of a traditional third-person camera.
With these settings in place, Mervils plays exactly how you would expect a game like this to play. There were moments throughout my experience where the camera would clip into a tree or into the environment and make me feel like I was about to get backhanded by a mountain, but for the most part it was a solid camera.
For the purposes of the review, I tried the other end of the spectrum and enabled all the comfort settings. It’s just not the same when you do this. After prolonged time with the comfort settings off, I did get some bouts of motion sickness, but Mervils needs to be played like a traditional third-person action game.
With fixed perspective or a staggered camera, it’s just not the same. I appreciate the developers trying to cater to all types of VR players, but the difference between the experiences is night and day.
I’m not knocking Mervils by saying this, far from it. What I am saying, is that if you’re going to buy this game, you probably want Zelda or Mario in VR. To get that, you need to switch the camera to smooth and enable it to follow you. In my opinion, that’s the only way to truly play and enjoy this title.
VR settings aside, Mervils is a game about collecting those sweet, sweet pages. You’ll find them spread out through large levels within each of the game’s worlds. Some of them are easy to get, while others require you to pick up and complete side quests.
When you first create your character, you’ll have basic weapons and armor, but as you collect pages, you can return to the hub world and access this creation screen again. With additional pages, you can purchase weapon and armor upgrades that add a really solid sense of progression to the game.
Additional hearts, attack power, and other RPG elements play into your upgrades. The side quests themselves are also widely varied. Some of them are fetch quests, but others involve puzzles or escorting NPCs while enemies attack.
The controls are tight and simple, with a jump and attack button being your primary options. Enemy variety is there, and boss fights incorporate some interesting mechanics. Some are better than others, but the variety is most certainly there, which keeps the experience from becoming repetitive.
If you like collectibles, and you’re a completionist, then Mervils will keep you busy for a very long time. Even players who casually collect pages and make their way through the levels will spend a solid 8-hours on Mervils: A VR Adventure.
So yes, this is 100% a complete VR title that is absolutely worth the $19.99 price point. I highly recommend that you enable traditional third-person camera settings for the best possible visuals and gameplay experience, but other than that, it’s a no-brainer in terms of value.
Colorful and Varied Presentation
The graphics in Mervils may have some VR players turning away, but to do that would be denying yourself the experience you’ve been asking for since launch. Yes, the graphics in Mervils look simplistic from a 2D perspective, but in VR they have a remarkable level of fidelity.
Despite simple textures, the game’s wonderful color palette comes to life in 3D all around you. Combine this with varied and appropriately thematic music, and you can’t deny the nostalgia that rises up within you. It’s like playing your first 3D game all over again, but this time in VR.
The only downsides to Mervils: A VR Adventure are some inconsistent voice acting, and a wild difference between the game experience depending on the comfort settings you choose. Other than that, this is the first complete third-person action adventure we’ve seen on PlayStation VR.
If this is the cornerstone for the genre in VR, then I’d say Mervils: A VR Adventure provides a solid foundation for the future.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Mervils: A VR Adventure was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 2/21/17