Vacation Simulator Is An Endlessly-Charming Trip Through A VR Paradise
Trade in your cubicle for a snorkel in this delightful follow-up to the 2016 smash hit. Available now.
When Owlchemy labs released its freshmen effort Job Simulator back in 2016, I don’t think the team was fully aware of the impact their deceitfully-simple game would have on the budding VR industry. Widely-regarded as one of the first true AAA VR gaming experiences released on Vive, the title tasked players with performing over-the-top approximations of real-world jobs to the delight of a sarcastic cast of retro-futuristic robots fascinated with the mundane work-lives of human beings.
Available now on SteamVR and Oculus Rift, Vacation Simulator doubles-down on everything that made Job Simulator so fantastic, while at the same time injecting a refreshing sense of exploration and creativity to the existing formula.
Set to the backdrop of a relaxing vacation getaway, players are given an extensive variety of relaxation-inducing activities set across three colorful locales in which to partake. You’ll begin your much-needed rest and relocation in your own futuristic bungalow, complete with a fully decked-out snack station, a personal computer with access to over four websites, luxurious sleeping amenities, an entertainment area complete with video game console–which you can find games for scattered throughout the world–and a spacious bathroom where you can change your hair, skin, and other physical features.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a vacation without spending some time in the good old outdoors. Luckily, Vacation Simulator features three wildly-different ‘Destinations’ to explore: Vacation Beach, Vacation Forest, and Vacation Mountain; each of which featuring their own set of activities to complete as well as Vacation bots to assist. For every successful activity completed, you gain a point, which is then stored on your interactive wristwatch. Each time you collect five points, you unlock a special portion of each locale, opening up even more charming activities.
For instance, there are plenty of beachside bots in need of help on Vacation Beach. After completing enough objectives, such as providing hungry beachgoers with tasty meals from the food shack, collecting special crab creatures scattered across the shore, building sand castles, and more, you unlock a set of scuba diving equipment, allowing you to actually enter the colorful depths of the Dive Site to photograph exotic marine life and discover sunken treasure.
In Vacation Forest, you’re presented with a busy campground filled with nature-themed goals to accomplish. You can help the camp art director with decorating the site with hand-drawn artwork, roast some smores and listen to ghost stories with an offbeat robot family, and photograph various wildlife; all in an effort to unlock the Hiking Trail, an area so large you can actually get yourself a little lost. Here you can go bird watching, explore various paths, enter a rock skipping contest, even become wildlife yourself.
Then there’s Vacation Mountain, a snow-themed locale complete with every mountainside amenity a vacationer could ask for. For cozy, inside shenanigans there’s The Lodge where you can find a host of fireside activities to complete, such as knitting mittens, completing puzzles of your in-game photographs and more. Outside, you’re free to engage in a helping of snow-based fun, including carving ice sculptures, throwing snowballs at innocent bystanders, even play some handball (hockey). Help enough bots and you unlock The Overlook, a massive mountain area where you can ski or go rock climbing. Of course, my favorite part is the lone bot continually smashing his face into the snow outside The Lodge. It’s the little things I guess.
While all of the locales feature their own unique objectives, there are several specific activities you can find among each location. One of these elements is your camera, which you’ll use throughout each location to capture beautiful scenery using a variety of lenses; snap photos of the majestic Vacation Forest salmon, or immortalize the beautiful of the battery-powered snails of Vacation Beach.
Once again, Owlchemy Labs has turned what would normally be considered a series of mundane activities into an engaging gaming experience that had me smiling ear-to-ear throughout. Much like Job Simulator, each activity can be accomplished in a series of ways, with each new objective exposing and connecting you to new characters and locations; this ensures that you experience everything each Destination has to offer.
For instance, Vacation Forest features a particular bot that will tell you a chilling ghost story. Unfortunately, halfway through the tale, his throat becomes parched and he says he’ll require a hot beverage in order to continue. This lead to me to the snack tent, where I proceeded to whip up some chocolate milk which I then heated up using the storytelling bots campfire back at his site, no thanks to the apathetic teenage bot too busy moping around to actually run the counter.
Vacation Simulator genuinely surprised me with the amount of depth it offers throughout its three extensive Destinations. While I found myself quickly tiring of Job Simulator after just a month, Vacation strikes me as the type of experience I could find myself returning to on a regular basis. Each activity, while simple, offers a sense of replayability, or at least enough charm to make me want more. Not only is this a VR experience sure to please even the most cynical VR enthusiast, but it also has the potential to serve as the perfect introduction for newcomers to the technology.