In Weird Barber, you play as a hairdresser who’s, conveniently, the final one left “after the apocalypse.”
Outfitted with only one pair of abnormally giant scissors, you end up in themed, underground subway stations the place aliens of various shapes, sizes and colours poke their heads out of carriage home windows as they go by on trains. And so, identical to that, you start your game-long journey to trim as many locks as attainable off the train-riding aliens’ heads.
So far as story goes, that’s about as a lot element as you’ll get from Weird Barber. Nevertheless, it’s a sport that’s so unusual and quirky in idea that it tends to not matter. Developed by Synesthetic Echo, the title is a grant winner from the 2018 Oculus Launchpad program.
The developer’s inspiration for the sport got here from their expertise immigrating to New York 5 years in the past, a spot that they discovered each thrilling and considerably overwhelming on the identical time. These emotions of isolation, pleasure and nervousness that come from relocating your self to a brand new atmosphere may be felt in Weird Barber’s DNA.
The top result’s a wacky arcade sport that doesn’t actually work together head-on with these themes in any respect, however you may nonetheless very a lot really feel the non-public connection. In a really unfastened method, you would take a look at Weird Barber as an inventive interpretation of what it’s wish to be someplace fully international and unknown, bending over backwards to slot in and calm down.
By way of precise gameplay, you play by means of equally structured, if considerably different, ranges set in themed subway stations. As trains transfer previous you, aliens with abnormally lengthy necks will stick their heads out. They arrive in a spread of weird designs with equally weird hair, and it’s as much as you to chop their locks off as they transfer previous you.
If it sounds easy, that’s as a result of it’s. The sport was designed to be equally as accessible to VR newcomers or veterans, and as such there’s no buttons to press in any respect all through your complete sport — not even within the menus. All the sport consists solely of transferring your controllers to simulate a big chopping movement.
As you progress, issues get extra difficult. The aliens begin to spin, get nearer collectively or transfer erratically. Obstacles are thrown within the combine, in addition to power-ups that change the way in which you utilize your scissors.
Your efficiency on the finish of every stage is graded out of three stars, primarily based on the rating you gathered. The extra hair you narrow, the upper your rating — however to chop extra hair, you’ll must threat reducing near the scalp and probably nicking an alien’s head. One too many nicks and also you’ll fail the extent. You can even achieve a better rating by means of combo chains, which you preserve by making certain you narrow by means of every strand of hair on each alien’s head.
Some ranges may even function a bonus alien on the very finish, with an enormous quantity of hair that you should utilize to spice up your rating up somewhat bit increased. These bonus aliens may even narrate an odd story to you as you narrow their locks, talking in a slam-poetry sort method. These little oddities sprinkled all through the sport, together with the creative model and stress-free soundtrack, lend the sport a really indie, art-house vibe that fits its quirky material nicely.
That being stated, the sport will not be with out its frustrations. A number of the aliens transfer very quick and erratically, which is meant to extend the problem. Nevertheless, which means the aliens will generally zip down right into a place you weren’t anticipating and sometimes transfer immediately into your scissor blades, counting as a nick or decapitation. Generally, you’ll fail the extent as a result of an alien out of the blue moved into your scissors, which feels fully out of your management and unfair. Whereas there’s a sample to every alien’s ‘erratic’ motion, you typically don’t have sufficient time to review the sample nicely sufficient to moderately keep away from them.
This frustration is compounded by Weird Barber’s lack of some essential person interface parts that may make for large high quality of life enhancements. In Beat Saber, while you miss blocks or make unsuitable cuts, a small bar beneath the observe will slowly lower. If it absolutely depletes, you fail the extent. You possibly can all the time test how shut you might be to failing at any given second. Throughout my playthrough, I by no means grasped an equal in Weird Barber, which turned irritating — for those who make a number of unintentional nicks, I couldn’t inform if another will lead to a fail.
Equally, upon failing the extent, the sport shows a message to be extra cautious and to not minimize or contact the aliens’ heads along with your scissors. Nevertheless, in sure conditions, I used to be receiving the message after I hadn’t made any such errors in any respect, leaving me fairly confused. I quickly realized the message was additionally being displayed if I missed aliens completely — that means there was solely a specific amount of aliens I might ignore or miss in every stage with out failing. The sport by no means defined this to me, and the inaccurate stage failed message didn’t assist both. It’s a small problem, however it’s consultant of another small areas the place the sport lacks a little bit of polish.
Weird Barber would vastly profit from the addition of modifiers, as seen in video games like Beat Saber or Pistol Whip. A ‘No Fail’ modifier is the plain one, however it may very well be enjoyable so as to add modifiers that completely improve your scissors with the power-ups you utilize throughout the degrees, for instance.
Whereas the degrees are difficult sufficient as-is (I wasn’t even in a position to obtain the proper three/three stars on any ranges in my playthrough), it looks like modifiers would add some additional replayability and depth past the problem of going for a excessive rating.
Weird Barber Evaluation Ultimate Verdict
Synesthetic Echo must be counseled on making a VR sport that’s so out-there and weird whereas remaining undeniably charming. Gamers who respect the creative facet to the expertise — its significant metaphors melded to an outlandish premise — may get extra out of it than these in search of gameplay that may preserve you coming again for hours on finish. Whereas it falls just under being absolutely polished, you’ll in all probability nonetheless have enjoyable enjoying by means of its brief 60-80 minute marketing campaign.
Whereas it may not have the finesse of a AAA title, it has the allure, uniqueness and private connection that solely indie video games can supply. In that method, Weird Barber feels extra prefer it belongs in an artwork gallery than on a high 25 listing, and that’s the perfect factor about it.
Ultimate Rating: three/5 Stars | Fairly Good
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Weird Barber is accessible for PC VR on Steam, Viveport and the Oculus Retailer for $11.99. This overview was carried out on an Oculus Quest utilizing Oculus Hyperlink.