Thursday, May 24, 2018

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

I admit I did not watch Rick and Morty when it first came on in 2013, however I did watch it for the first time following an infamous April Fool’s Day prank on [adult swim] (I was one of those who actually wanted the next Samurai Jack episode) and liked it, then later got into it through reruns, which ended up adding some levity to a family trip. Though Rick and Morty has its share of tie-in merch, among them a mobile game (Pocket Mortys), a browser game (Rick and Morty’s Rushed Licensed Adventure) and an ongoing comic book from Oni Press (including a comic based on Pocket Mortys), not to mention a toy replica of Rick’s portal gun, they’ve recently entered the world of VR with Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, originally released for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with a more recent port for PlayStation VR (the version covered here).

Rick creates a Morty clone to help him do the laundry. This menial task quickly blows out of proportion as the Morty clone is dragged into a typical Rick and Morty adventure. Though simple, the plot is executed in true Rick and Morty fashion, essentially playing out like a two-hour episode that works for the VR platform.

The gameplay is similar to that of Job Simulator, also developed by Owlchemy Labs, with some Rick and Morty twists thrown in. Since the game is not simulating various jobs, the levels are connected by a single narrative (though a free-play option becomes available upon completion), most of which takes place within Rick’s garage. The garage is laid out such that the Morty clone can teleport between three spaces that provide different needs, though done such that it works within a compact space; at certain points you can also use Rick’s portal gun to teleport to new locations, designed to work within a small yet very immersive space, helped by the graphics being a very faithful translation of the series art style in three dimensions. As the play area is limited even within the garage, a modified Mr. Meeseeks from the show is provided to assist in reaching objects in spaces you can’t easily reach within the garage. There’s also some funny easter eggs in some areas, related to the first three seasons of the show, that fans will enjoy.

The art style is translated faithfully into VR.
(Pictured: Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland))

Returning characters from the show retain their original voice actors, lending to some authenticity, however Justin Roiland steals the show just as he does in the main series. As he voices both Rick and Morty, the banter between them is often hilarious and you can tell that some amount of dialogue may have been improvised much like in the show. Though not as prominent, Spencer Grammer as Summer shows her talent and ability to keep up with Justin Roiland’s improvisational style thanks to her three seasons of experience with her character.

While the game is overall enjoyable, there were a few issues I experienced while playing. At times I felt as though I needed to recalibrate my position just to avoid some frustrating connectivity issues, though this may have had more to do with my setup than anything. Somewhat related is the playability of the aforementioned Mr. Meeseeks (here called Mr. Youseeks), which involves throwing it to get it to land in the right spot; this requires lots of precision with player instinct being the only aiming tool, so it may take a few tries to get the Mr. Youseeks in the right spot (though thankfully you can get rid of a badly-placed one by pulling off its VR goggles). A more legitimate issue I had was with a shooting section, where there was some brief lag after every few successful hits, something I did not experience in any other section of the game, though this was more minor in the long run.

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is an enjoyable VR game that fans of Rick and Morty should not miss. Non-fans may get some enjoyment out of it, particularly if they are also fans of Job Simulator, however having knowledge of Rick and Morty’s first three seasons helps greatly in getting all the easter eggs and in-jokes (including some meta humor) within the game. The amount of effort put into recreating the show’s style and humor shows, making this an offering that, alongside the Oni Press comic, may help tide series fans over until [adult swim]’s 70-episode order starts getting filled.

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