Red matter 2 came to Quest 2 and stands out as an immersive single-player adventure set against Quest’s arcade-focused library. But does the gameplay of this sci-fi puzzler match its outstanding graphics? Read our full review at Red matter 2 discover.
Red matter 2 Details:
Available on: Quest 2, SteamVR
Release date: August 18, 2022
Developer: vertical robot
Revised on: Quest 2
Red Matter 2 is a linear sci-fi puzzle game with a backdrop story to drive the action forward. While there is a taste of projectile combat in the game, the real showcase is the game’s wealth of immersive interactions and its consistently strong technical and artistic presentation that is best in class on Quest 2, while remaining impressive on PC VR for the likes of a small team VR game.
Red Matter 2 is a direct continuation of the first game and has substantially similar gameplay. If you haven’t played the first one, you’ll be left out of the story a bit, even though the game tries hard to remind players what happened.
In short, you travel through a largely lifeless space station, following the path of a comrade determined to thwart the villains who use the mysterious and dangerous “red matter” as a weapon.
Along the way, you’ll find some truly unique and imposing Brutalist architecture, beautiful small- and large-scale visual details, and tons of interactivity with objects in the world.
The puzzles in the game are quite varied. While you’ll definitely be doing a lot of levers, button presses, and power redirection, there are also more creative and interesting puzzles like figuring out how to operate certain machines, using environmental objects to hold doors open, and even use a remote-controlled maintenance airship to accomplish important tasks. Although some tasks are quite routine (opening the door with the button broken), I didn’t feel like a single mechanic was overstayed.
Along with the puzzles that you’ll mostly complete with your hands, as a player you also have a jetpack which is used for the occasional platforming section (unlike the first game, players have complete manual control over the movement of their jet pack). While I like the idea in theory, I found the jetpack motion too slow to be engaging, and in some cases frustrating when you literally come within two inches of the planform you wanted to achieve (while n not having the ability to use your hands to shoot yourself).
Beyond the standard simple puzzles in Red Matter 2 are a few creative ones, offering that “ah-ha!” always satisfying. moment, but these were also balanced by a handful of puzzles that seemed obtuse or had other issues like prominent objects that weren’t apparent enough. Some of the puzzles relied on the game Alex-like a force-pulling mechanism, but it was used so little that on several occasions I forgot I even had this power which temporarily blocked me.
For most of these obtuse puzzles, a single bit of dialogue or text hint could have saved the frustration. Even just reading ‘current objective’ would have been helpful in reminding players of what they’re trying to accomplish (especially useful if you have to take the headset off in the middle of a puzzle, then come back and forget exactly where you are find in the puzzle process).
Perhaps the most useful tool in the game is the scanner, which scans objects to provide clues and translate the game’s uniquely Russian script. For better or worse, you’ll make heavy use of the device and you’ll be able to scan almost any object in the environment, whether it’s a useless prop or a computer screen with important information to solve the puzzle at hand.
Another necessary tool you will acquire during the game is an energy gun, which is the only weapon you will find in the game. It is used for a handful of fights against security drones. While I appreciate the desire to break up all the puzzles with combat at a different pace, I ultimately found combat to be more of a chore than a pleasure, largely due to the enemies feeling extremely hard to hit.
Especially the humanoid robots you’re fighting – which need to be hit in specific weak spots to be destroyed – which are constantly moving around to dodge your shots. And it doesn’t help that the gun’s projectile speed and accuracy doesn’t feel up to the task. With only one offensive option, the fight focused on the same corner the entire fight until landing enough hits in the right spot to kill the bots.
I ended up lowering the combat difficulty from Normal to Easy (the only two options), which made it more tolerable. I like challenging games, and especially shooters, but even so, I’d recommend going to Easy right off the bat to make Red Matter 2 more tolerable combat sections.
Although it picks up where the previous game left off, the story of Red matter 2 feels like little more than a set-dressing. It’s presented in a way that’s now almost a certainty in VR games: a “radio game” that comes in the form of voices in your headphones. With almost no direct character interaction – and no character development – I found it easy to overlook the names of key characters and story-relevant locations. Sure, the story did its job as a backdrop for fun puzzles, beautiful sights, and trippy supernatural moments, but sadly, it didn’t feel like it stood on its own.
And while the puzzles were generally entertaining, the game lacked a “mechanical climax” where everything the player has learned fits together synergistically, a hallmark of the best puzzle games.
Red matter 2 took me almost exactly seven hours to complete my first game. And while there wasn’t much replayability to be had, it was a generally fun experience and solid value at the $30 price tag – not to mention it was technically sound with great performance, crisp visuals and no major crashes or bugs.
However Red matter 2 the puzzle gameplay doesn’t quite come together in this joyfully synergistic way, the experience is greatly enhanced by an excellent sense of immersion. Red matter 2 is easily one of the most immersive games available on Quest 2, and to that end it resembles the great immersive games enjoyed by PC VR gamers like lonely echo and Half-Life: Alyx.
Developer Vertical Robot has continued to rely on its ingenious “grabbing” tools, which it pioneered in the original Red matter—as the basis for interaction in the game. Simply put, in the game you are holding a multi-tool which looks much like the controller that’s in your hands in real life. The tool can switch between typing, scanning, hacking and a flashlight. It’s surprising to say, but having “grabbers” that look like your controllers feels much more immersive than using virtual “hands” to interact with game elements.
The reason for the extra immersion is two-fold: first, because there’s a tool between you and the object, you don’t expect to feel the kind of haptics you would feel if you grabbed the object with your real fingers (and therefore realism is retained). And second, since you cannot dexterously manipulate and precisely target virtual objects with your real fingers, grippers represent the coarse input limitations of your VR motion controllers much more accurately. Frankly, it’s amazing that so many more VR games don’t use this approach.
With your multi-tool in hand, almost anything that looks like it could interact with it can indeed be picked up and played with. And that’s a big plus because, quite simply, the basic gameplay of red matter 2 is indeed interact. And aside, Red Matter 2 might have the best paper physics I’ve ever seen in a VR game – little details like that really add up!
Beyond the game’s rich interactions, Red Matter 2 is a consistently beautiful game with strong art, lighting, and environmental direction. There are enough interesting visual details scattered throughout the game that looking at to stuff is often an engaging experience. Even the Quest 2 game version is graphically on par with the average PC VR game; next to the native Quest 2 games, it’s best in class.
With a game world that feels more interactive than not, and environments and details worth looking into, the world of Red matter 2 feels “solid” in a way that few VR games reach.
A moment while playing really reinforced for me how immersive the game can be.
At one point, I needed to press a button to open a door while looking the other way (i.e. I grabbed the button without looking at it). As I blindly reached for the button, I was confused when my arm felt like it was “going through” the wall – surely if I had missed the button, the wall would have stopped my hand. But of course there is no real wall there, although my brain expects there to be one.
This level of virtual embodiment is rarer than you might think in VR, especially in the Quest library, and Red matter 2 is one of the few games that offers it.
Red matter 2 uses a typical walking stick with a bit of slow jetpacking sprinkled throughout. For the most part I found the game comfortable, but for long sessions I could experience a creeping sensation of motion discomfort. Thankfully the game supports a teleport option which felt very comfortable and is reasonably “explained” as the player using their jetpack to move around (although this trivializes some of the platforming sections). There are a few select parts of the game where you to have to use the stick movements, even if you opted for teleportation, but they are relatively brief.
Although the movement of the jetpack without teleporting can be a problem for those who are very sensitive, I found it largely comfortable thanks to its slow and steady speed. As an option, you can choose to quickly lose altitude by holding down the stick, but if you are very sensitive you might prefer the default slow descent.
Game comfort options cover almost everything on our comfort checklist, so special thanks to the developer of this font.
Red Matter Comfort Settings 2′ – August 18, 2022
|Based on controller||✔|
|Interchangeable movement hand||✔|
|Two hands required||✔|
|True crouch required||✖|
|Adjustable player height||✖|