Covert VR from developer White Elk just dropped for your trusty PSVR and the Oculus Rift. If it looks or sounds familiar, then you may have played the Oculus Go or Gear VR version from a few years back.
The concept is a simple one: you play as an elite thief or his hacker buddy. What makes it unique is that both the thief and hacker are necessary, so only gamers with friends need apply. That’s right, it’s a rare two-player only game that requires one player to play with the headset while the second local player uses the free companion app on their phone or tablet. VR gaming can be isolating when you’re in the headset and this is a fun way to bring a friend or family member into the experience. Is Covert VR worth your time and money, or is the $19.99 price tag the real crime here? Keep reading to find out.
First things first, Covert VR was built for the Oculus Go and it still looks very similar. Despite that sounding like an insult, it really isn’t. It was a great looking game on the Go, and while very simple, the cartoony graphics look fine here. I haven’t played the Oculus Go or Gear VR version so I can’t speak to other similarities, but with the added 6DoF and movement it’s safe to say that the 2020 version is the definitive edition of the game.
The story is as follows: you and your partner get recruited by a mysterious client. But you’re a thief for hire, so that’s probably how it works, right? The player with the headset moves about the levels via smooth locomotion, while the mobile player uses the app to unlock doors, disable lasers, and generally give you a heads-up about potential dangers. You’ll find various degrees of click turning in the settings and smooth turning is an available option as well. For the PSVR, both the Move motion controllers and the Dual Shock are compatible. Sadly, I found rather large issues with both options. With the DS4 you’ll get the sticks for ease of movement but it makes everything else awkward. I just want two movable hands when I play VR, you know? With the Moves, moving is made difficult due to awkward controls. Did you know there aren’t analog sticks on the Move controllers? You did? Oh, okay.
The developer didn’t use the unofficial Skyrim controls and instead used the left trigger to move forward, and the left move button to go in reverse. That would be easy enough to adjust to, but using buttons to strafe and different buttons to turn while trying to avoid lasers or sneak past armed security isn’t ideal. And when you combine my least favorite VR locomotion technique of head tracking to the mix, it was destined to give me trouble. I’m convinced that pointing the Left Move controller in the direction that you want to move while holding down the move button would have been a better experience, but I digress. Despite my complaints, both options are viable ways to play a pretty fun and unique game.
I played the majority of the game with my wife, who isn’t a big gamer. I figured she would be bored and hold the whole experience against me. Thankfully, we both had a good time. She played the hacker via her Ipad and took great satisfaction in screaming at me to “TURN LEFT!”, or “I SAID GO NOW, WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT GO NOW?”. Our apparent trust issues aside, the hacker/thief relationship is what elevates Covert VR’s ideas above and beyond the sum of its parts. I’ve dodged spotlights, laser grids, and electrified floors a million times before, but never with the help of my wife. And by help, I mean screaming directions at me from the couch.
The game ran smoothly throughout, and I thought my handler Stacy was written and performed well. Her dad jokes are perfectly terrible and I actually learned a thing or two. The story isn’t groundbreaking, but it will keep you moving forward through the four to five-hour campaign.
It’s not all rosy, I’m afraid. As I mentioned, head tracking is used, meaning when I’m walking forward and turn my head to the left or right to see if someone is coming, my character turns in the direction my head faces. It’s natural in real life to drift slightly when you turn your head, but in this case, it means I can’t look in any direction except the direction I’m moving. What is this, a traditional flat game? My last real complaint is a small one and may not affect most players. I highly prefer smooth turning to go with my smooth locomotion, but I’m susceptible to a little bit of motion sickness if the smooth turning is too slow. Unfortunately, that is the case with Covert VR. The smooth turn is too slow for me so I settled for click turning. I suspect most players who prefer smooth turning will be just fine with the options offered here, but I wanted to make note of it.
If you have a friend or a loved one who is willing to drop 3 to 6 hours into some co-op VR with you, then this heist adventure is well worth your time. The mobile player isn’t going to experience as much action as the player in the headset, but the teamwork involved to complete each mission is rewarding enough to keep both players invested and eager to see what happens next.
Covert PSVR Review
- Overall - Very Good - 7/107/10
Covert VR is a fun, and sometimes hilarious, co-op adventure that rises above its flaws to give you and a friend a worthy experience. I wouldn't hate a patch to add a few control options and to tweak the comfort settings, but as stands now, Covert VR is an easy recommendation for players who like to bring in their buddies along for the ride. Assuming that buddy is sitting next to you on the couch.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PSVR on PS4.