Red Matter 2
Red Matter 2 from Vertical Robots is a visual VR tour de force on PSVR 2. And all the other platforms it is on – PC and Meta – too. Vertical Robot takes the technical prowess baton from Red Matter and fully utilizes the capabilities of the PSVR 2 headset, and delivers a stunningly smooth VR experience.
Vertical Robots had big shoes to fill in their follow-up to the 2019 Red Matter. That title also set a bar for technical polish and received much praise from VR gamers on all platforms. It ranks as the one of the best looking PSVR 1 titles.
Red Matter 2 can easily make that same claim, albeit very early in the PSVR 2 life cycle. The only actual competition graphically is Sony’s first party title – Call To The Mountain. We should note that COTM is rendering much more dense and detailed outdoor environments. Red Matter 2 is about space vistas, caves, space stations and spaceships.
However, Red Matter 2 runs at a native 120 FPS versus the 60 FPS reprojected to 120 FPS at which COTM runs. Running natively at 120 FPS imparts the image with a crystal clarity that is staggering to behold. This is a game that runs butter smooth and takes advantage of the PSVR 2’s foveated rendering to further enhance the 4K remastered textures being used.
Cold War Dystopian Setting
The visuals are so strong, I’m tempted to present a review of the game with just images. However, some of you may have never heard of Red Matter or Red Matter 2 because you are new to VR. Both games take place in a dystopian future where a Cold War has broken out between the Soviet Union and the Atlantic Republic.
In the first game you play as Agent Epsilon of the Atlantic Union, sent to one of Saturn’s moons, Rhea. You are to investigate the mysterious activity at a research facility. In Red Matter 2, you play another agent, Sasha, who sent from a lunar base to moons from Saturn and Neptune to rescue your shipmate.
Both experiences are first person POV puzzle adventure games, but Red Matter 2 expands the gameplay mechanics in several ways. Movement is much quicker in the second game. Not only can you walk, but your suit has thrusters of limited range that adds an element of verticality. Make no mistake, this game still uses a measured pace made apparent by the lack of being able to run.
No doubt limiting the speed at which the player can move allows the game to display huge jaw-dropping environments. You will be space walking around an asteroid base with Saturn and its rings as a backdrop. There are other equally gorgeous space and planet landscapes to travel through. And because it is virtual reality, all done to scale. You truly feel tiny against the immensity of the external environments.
Not to be outdone, once you move inside, there are huge interior sections, such as a rail station at the base of an enormous dome that you must navigate vertically via elevators and your suit thrusters. As someone not OK with heights, I’ve gotten immune to VR heights, but the scale of this game has me clenching my controllers very, very tightly.
Further to the scale of things, the realism of the world comes to life by not only the rich detail but the lighting, too. In concert with the superb shadow and bloom effects, everything feels so real. While the look is not photo-realistic, everything has a solidity to it rarely seen in VR games. One of the best examples of lighting and shadows is when your environment suit rises from the ground in a storage tube. The reflections on the glass panels and the shadow movement around the suit as the tube rotates are fantastic.
Red Matter 2 is rife with puzzles. The grippers return but this time with haptic feedback. Vertical Robot has reworked your two hand held multi-tools so that the button placements match those of the PSVR 2 Sense Controllers. This is a great boon and something that should be standard. Your left-hand tool has a gripper, scanner, flashlight, and flares. The right-hand tool has a gripper, suit thruster controls, and a gun.
The controller haptics go beyond the grippers. You can feel the tension when you resistance of the trigger of the energy weapon, for example. Headset haptics come into play too. You will feel it when you get shot or on a train on Titan as you pass support pylons. There are more instances of haptic feedback and the game uses them to heighten immersion.
Hacking And Shooting Too
You also have a hacking tool to login to terminals to gain access to vital data. You can also find information by using your scanner to read notes and identify items and their uses. New to Red Matter games is the inclusion of gun combat. You will fight automated turrets and security drones.
However, the core of the game remains puzzle and logic problems. You will be flip switches, find fuses, solve logic problems such as electrical wiring, to name a few. The puzzles are intuitive and it should be rare for anyone to get totally stumped. Most often, careful exploration and scanning will provide the solution. Including the suit thrusters adds platforming aspects to the puzzle repertoire.
There is a great mystery involving Red Matter. The scope and scale of its impact becomes larger and larger the further you get into the story. To add emotional context and prevent you from feeling isolated, you have a partner; she goes by the name of Beta. She provides guidance, data analysis, and emotional support.
Your investment in the mission is not purely professional. You are following a trail left by your friend, Stas. As you see holographic replays of him, your concern for his safety grows. It’s an effective combination of two characters that makes the storyline more personal.
Red Matter 2 = Technically Terrific
This is a glorious VR game. It will take you about 5 to 6 hours to finish, but you can easily lose time just taking in everything you see. The only niggle with the game is a lack of replayability. There is nothing extra to entice one to play again. However, the journey and spectacle of a single run is totally worth it. If you are looking for a premium VR experience that fills you with a sense of awe and wonder, Red Matter 2 is the ticket. Developer, Vertical Robot is one to keep an eye on.
*** PS5 code provided by the publisher ***
- Gorgeous visuals
- Stunning environments & sense of scale
- Excellent integration of PSVR 2 Controllers
- Lack of Replayability
- Mandatory vignetting when too close to objects