Published on December 7th, 2018 | by Sean Warhurst
Squishies PSVR Review
Summary: Although flying under the radar somewhat in the wake of the release of Tetris Effect, the much touted “must play!” VR puzzle event of the year, this admirable little effort from Brainseed Factory definitely deserves your attention if you’re even slightly interested in the puzzle genre.
It Sucks! It Blows!
I’ll openly admit that I wasn’t anticipating having too great a time with Squishies, the new PSVR puzzle game from Brainseed Factory, especially coming hot on the heels of such a transformative experience for the medium in the form of the sublime Astro Bot (I really can’t stop namedropping that little guy whenever I get the chance, can I?).
It wasn’t that the game looked terrible in any real way but the initial concept seemed rather limited in scope, seeing you move the titular Squishies through diorama-like levels by manipulating these fish creatures that can either suck or blow the Squishies through the environment as necessary… It’s a admirably goofy idea for a game but the advertising materials before release had me picturing the game as being nothing more than a lacklustre amalgamation of Lemmings and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
So, colour me surprised when this unassuming little puzzler revealed itself to be one of the most engaging titles I’ve played in VR this year; controlling your fishes with the move controllers as well as manipulating the play area may seem cumbersome and unintuitive initially but after around fifteen minutes blasting through the tutorial and the first few levels, everything kind of falls into place and you’ll be collecting crystals and discovering hidden eggs like a pro without a second thought to the control scheme.
It’s fortunate that the controls cease to be an issue after a while, as the game really doesn’t pull its punches in the later stages; the general premise, as noted above, is to guide your Squishies through each level and collect crystals, but the challenges presented before you and the amount of physics based acrobatics you’ll be required to pull off to get to the end will put even the most hardened puzzle-platforming prodigy through their paces.
Of course, playing in virtual reality mitigates some issues that may have hampered the game had it been a traditional flatscreen release; being present within the world and being able to closely inspect each stage and ascertain the best route and methods to take to get to your goal in a fully immersive, three-dimensional environment is an experience unique to playing in VR and one that easily mitigates any camera issues by having the player themselves be the “camera” and zoom and move the level as desired.
Despite the construction of the stages becoming more elaborate and difficult to navigate, the game never feels overwhelming due to affording the player with infinite lives; some may complain that this removes from the challenge to a degree but this accessibility really helps offset the intricate latter stages and ensures that players don’t have their frustrations compounded by having to incessantly contend with a game over screen.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of the game is the level editor, which allows the community to craft their own devious death traps and then unleash them upon the public. Although the selection wasn’t the largest upon review, I’m sure that once a healthy community begins to grow around the game that we’re bound to see some truly ingenious designs, something which should help extend the lifespan of the game indefinitely after you’ve worked your way through the main campaign.
Graphics and Audio
Squishies has a simple but effective visual style that translates perfectly to the VR format; bright colourful worlds and charming creature and level designs go quite some way towards making up for the reduced graphical quality and fine detail inherent to the limitations of the technology.
The soundtrack is kind of just there, in that it’s serviceable but not really memorable at all, although this of course boils down to personal preference.
The quirky little yelps and the like that emanate from the Squishies and the squelchy sound of their movement was endearing and even strangely satisfying to listen to after a while.
Overall, a solid effort across all categories here.
Although flying under the radar somewhat in the wake of the release of Tetris Effect, the much touted “must play!” VR puzzle event of the year, this admirable little effort from Brainseed Factory definitely deserves your attention if you’re even slightly interested in the puzzle genre.
There are a wealth of stages to explore, plus community creations to sink your teeth into, and the game manages to maintain that fine balance between challenging and frustrating with aplomb.
Tracking remained solid throughout my time with Squishies, which is an absolute necessity when the game relies upon the Moves to such a degree, and overall it’s just a nicely designed, well-rounded puzzle game that I found myself sinking far more hours into than I initially expected.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (PSVR Required)
Game Genre – Puzzle
Rating – G
Game Developer – Brainseed Factory
Game Publisher – Brainseed Factory
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst