I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for this game/experience. Richies Plank Experience was one of the first virtual reality games that I ever played. During my first VR experience, the virtual reality arcade associate recommended that I try out the game to get an understanding of how immersive it could be. Playing Richies Plank Experience as one of your first VR games is the equivalent of walking into six flags and going on the largest roller coaster as your first ride. The graphics are realistic enough to make you forget for a second that you are actually still standing in a room with a headset over your head.
Price and Bang for your buck
$15. Do you ultimately get a lot of game for that price? No. Is the experience unique enough to warrant the price? Definitely, as long as you are planning on having lots of friends and family check it out. The studio that created this game actually had posted on reddit to reiterate my point exactly.
Let me preface this review first: As you can probably assume from my comments above, I definitely recommend trying Richie’s Plank Experience. The actual experience itself is pretty short compared to a lot of other Virtual Reality titles. I would estimate the average person would probably get bored after 5-10 minutes. If you plan on only ever playing the game by yourself in your house, then maybe this isn’t the best choice. I view Richie’s as if I am looking at a party game. After spending the time and money to put together a virtual reality setup, you are going to need a couple titles to really wow your friends.
As far as the actual experience, it is terrifying. You load into the game as an individual standing in a non-distinct city. In front of you is a generic office building with an open elevator. You have the option to walk into the elevator (and i mean actually walk), so you probably want some room for this. Once you have walked into the elevator and looked around, you realize there are 4 buttons to your right. If you click the top one, labeled “plank”, you are escorted to the top floor of the building. The elevator then opens to a plank hanging a 100 feet above the city. When you get to the edge of the safety of the elevator you have to remind yourself that you are still in a game. It’s hard to really describe the thoughts that race through your head until you are actually walking on that plank. It wouldn’t be unusual to test out the floor to make sure that you are still on solid ground. Of course, the experience would not be complete unless you had the opportunity to jump off. Jumping off the plank feels weirdly real, like a roller coaster. It reminds me of a line out of the Matrix, where Morpheus tells Neo “Your mind makes it real”.
There are a couple of mini-games packed into this experience to add a bit of longevity and help sell the $15 price. You can race rockets, fight fires with a fire extinguisher and defend the city from missiles. Flying around like Iron Man is fun, but nowhere near as cool as the plank experience.
My only recommendation on improvements on the experience come in the form of photo realism. I wish that the visuals and sounds were a bit more real. The graphics are realistic, but to some extent objects still look a bit cartoonish. Having an option to maybe turn on and off extremely real ultra high graphic textures surrounding the plank would be great.