Kayak VR: Mirage (PSVR2) Review: One of the Most Calming Games I’ve Ever Played
In my experience, Kayak VR: Mirage is perhaps the most authentic VR game I have ever played. The development team at Better Than Life chose to limit the game’s interactions to a very specific set of elements: a double-sided paddle, water, and the rocks and ice that surround your small boat. This restriction allowed them to focus their efforts on perfecting the game’s physics, resulting in an immersive and realistic experience that captures the essence of kayaking, minus the sensation of water spraying in your face. The water featured in this game is among the most remarkable I have ever witnessed, and keep in mind that it’s not possible to watch a video on YouTube to understand. This game must be experienced in VR.
I spent a few moments simply submerging my paddle and observing the resulting splashes, and each one appeared incredibly genuine. The water in Kayak VR behaves precisely as it would in reality, which amplifies the sensation that you are traversing authentic waterways. The fish that swim nearby your boat seem to move in harmony with the water’s rhythm and the surrounding rocks.
Although Kayak VR is ostensibly a racing game, I must admit that I have little interest in mastering the racing component. Credit is undoubtedly due to the individuals who dedicated countless hours to perfecting the game’s sophisticated racing features. I experimented with the game’s racing capabilities and confirmed that you can race against the ghosts of your friends and other players, striving to beat one another’s times asynchronously. However, the world within the game does not encourage my competitive drive, and I was stunned at how fast the game anticipated me to go, even during the simplest races.
I am considerably more thrilled about leisurely paddling around the stunning environments crafted by this development team, gradually gliding at a snail’s pace and relishing the nearly photo-realistic biomes at my own leisure. When I first loaded into Kayak VR’s Costa Rica level, I immediately ventured out to the open sea, simply to observe how far I could go (spoiler: pretty far, but not far enough to reach that far-off island).
Kayak VR has very intuitive controls, as each controller represents a hand holding a paddle. The rowing motion comes naturally to your body, and you instinctively know what to do without any delay. However, after some practice, I discovered that stabilizing my motion and focusing on creating deep, smooth strokes worked better than being over-energetic and flapping about.
Kayak VR: Mirage is a standout title in the PSVR 2 launch window, particularly in its free roam mode. While the competitive multiplayer aspect may not appeal to everyone, the game’s impressive physics and visually stunning presentation make it a worthwhile experience that will keep me engaged for a long time. In fact, it’s easily one of the most calming games I’ve ever played. Even though the game world is not expansive, the tranquil atmosphere of Kayak VR: Mirage will keep me coming back.