We've checked out both the PCVR and the Meta Quest 2 editions of Incuvo's survival adventure game.
Ever wondered how you'd fare by yourself inside the mighty Amazon jungle? When I saw Green Hell was coming to VR on Meta Quest, that's exactly what I was asking myself. I'm relatively new to VR gaming and I haven't played the original game, so surviving inside the green hell of the Amazon jungle seemed like a perfect opportunity for a novel VR experience. As it turns out, Green Hell VR does a good job at letting you experience the struggles of jungle survival, at the cost of, at least initially, a good dose of actual nausea.
The original Green Hell came out in 2019 and the Meta Quest version is very similar. Both feature a story mode and survival mode. The game's storyline is simple but effective: you play as Jake Higgins, a famous anthropologist, who's visiting the Amazon rainforest together with his partner Mia. Mia sets out alone to contact one of the indigenous tribes, but after a few days of radio contact things go wrong. You set out to help, but get attacked. After you fall down a waterfall, you end up alone in the jungle with a big chunk of your memories missing. From then on, you play to find out what happened to Mia, while trying to survive the hardships of the jungle.
The first thing I noticed when playing Green Hell VR on Meta Quest, is the fact that the game looks really good. Considering the game is running on a mobile chip inside the Quest 2, this is clearly one of the VR games that makes the most out of the headset's capabilities. I've compared the game with the PCVR version that was also released recently, and for me the most noticeable differences are that the PCVR jungle has wind effects in the foliage and better lighting effects. Overall, the Meta Quest version doesn't scale the graphics down too much, and offers plenty of visual immersion.
While playing the story mode, you're gradually introduced to the basics of survival. There's sticks, stones, liana ropes and leaves to craft weapons and shelter, in addition to herbs and other plants to cure jungle fevers. Depending on the difficulty level you choose, you'll also need to consider food, disease and outside dangers. I picked a higher difficulty level, meaning I needed to constantly collect food such as bananas, coconuts, mushrooms and hunt wild animals to stay alive. Clean water is another vital resource. On any difficulty level, there are three things you're using a lot: firstly, your wrist watch where you monitor your health and fatigue levels. Secondly, you have a notebook displaying objectives, craftable objects, effects of edibles and the game map. Lastly, you're carrying a backpack that you use to store bananas, coconuts, herbs and construction materials. The nice thing is that with VR, this time these aren't keyboard or controller buttons, but you'll actually look at your arm and grab the backpack from your back.
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The story guides you on how to construct things like a fireplace, using your tools to cut down trees to make sticks. I was feeling a bit clumsy when I was making my first stone axe, but I got used to crafting quite easily. I also had to look up some things online, because I was unable to find out how to craft some of the weapons. Cutting down trees, harvesting resources and hunting animals is all really good fun with the VR controls. It even makes you sweat at times, just like in reality. After finding the first village where Mia disappeared, I spent a good half-hour chopping down trees, picking up twigs, tying rope around sticks and looking for leaves to construct my first shelter. All this walking, crafting and constructing can be quite tiring. Initially, I couldn't even play more than about twenty minutes, because I became nauseous from the many movements. Luckily, this became better with each time I played. Walking on the spot when I was walking in-game seemed to help a lot.
On the plus side, when you're busy crafting, hunting and scavenging time just flies by really fast. There's a lot of things coming up even beside the storyline. Any scavenging trip can lead to things like getting poisoned by a snake or vomiting from eating the wrong mushroom. There's a challenging array of quests and chores as found in many survival games. The storyline adds additional gameplay variety, including a psychedelic trip and incentives to push you towards risk and exploration. The initial playthrough of the game is therefore a lot of fun. In survival mode, the sense of purpose from the storyline is missing though, but it still adds replayability where you can just do whatever you want.
Unfortunately, the Meta Quest game's survival mode is more limited than its PCVR counterpart. That's because the more complex building materials and structures from the PCVR version are missing in the Quest version. There's no mud for making bricks, and with that, no possibility to build mud houses on Quest. In my experience playing survival games, such as ARK: Survival Evolved, you can spend hours building your own primitive shack in the jungle. On Quest you're limited to building stick and leaf huts, somewhat lessening the replayability in survival mode. On the other hand, keeping things simpler means the game is more accessible to all sorts of (casual) players, probably fitting the average Quest player well. However, it's a thing to consider if you're facing the choice between the Meta Quest 2 or PCVR versions.
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Are there things about the game I didn't like that much? Besides the initial nausea, one thing which annoys me a little is that the native people in the game all look very similar. I've seen them mostly during the game's cutscenes and occasionally encountered them while playing, and there appeared to be only a limited set of characters in the game. Watching a bunch of clones around a fireplace was the only thing that actually made me feel disappointed. I therefore feel the game falls short in this regard, but it could be because of the limitations of running the game on a VR headset.
Coming back to more positive things, I'd like to mention that the game's weapon handling and combat are something where Green Hell VR vastly improves on a regular game experience. The spears, axes, and bows and arrows you craft can be used for a variety of ways to hunt and fight hostile natives. Especially when stumbling upon natives, the VR fights had my heart rate going up a lot, dodging their attacks while hitting them with my machete. Especially because you're putting so much effort in surviving all of the other hardships, you want to make sure you'll also survive a combat encounter. Much more so than in a regular shooter game, for example.
Concluding, it's a good thing Green Hell VR has come to Meta Quest, as it offers an immersive jungle survival experience with impressive graphics for the platform. You're sure to get many hours of gameplay just from completing the main storyline and a nice balance between surviving, crafting, exploring and occasionally fighting if you wish. The game's survival mode is the only part where you're arguably missing out on more complex gameplay compared to the PCVR version of the game. That's because you cannot craft more complex structures such as mud houses, but it's probably not that big of an issue for the average Meta Quest player. If you're looking for a novel VR experience with an entertaining storyline on Meta Quest, don't skip Green Hell VR.
7 / 10
Impressive visuals for Meta Quest 2. Authentic VR survival experience. Many hours of gameplay.
Lacks some features from PCVR version. Playing can be tiring and lead to nausea.