Have You Played… TheBlu?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’m obviously wearyingly used to being right, and the complete flop of major player VR games in 2016 makes me the rightest ever. But if there’s one thing VR is really good for, it’s experiences. Not games, places. And TheBlu nails this.

It’s just a bit of being under the sea. But gosh, it’s spectacular. And with Vive’s room-wide tech, you get to potter about inside without being incessantly reminded of your tiny playing area. You just poke around a small space, look under things, peer through holes, and punch fish right in their stupid faces.

Each of the episodes is like being stood inside a short film, about ten minutes long, which plays out around you no matter what you do. But you can twiddle within, interact with what’s happening in a minimal way, and generally gasp in wonder at the schools of waterbeasts swimming by. My favourite is the jellyfish, during which I tormented a single jellyfish by not letting it swim on with the rest of his gang, constantly bopping him so he was stuck on the spot. Nothing broke, he just had to stay nearby while the rest of the events played out.

It does a completely marvellous job of surrounding you inside something, in a way that’s only possible with VR (unless you can hold your breath for ten minutes, I suppose). Not worth spending £800 to play, but certainly worth it if you won a Vive in a raffle or something.


  1. Cerzi says:

    And so the gradual shift towards reality begins.

    • 18pd says:

      Strapping a box to your head is a terrible way to experience things, how could we possibly have seen that coming?

      • Cerzi says:

        It’s only a terrible way if there’s an alternative. For VR experiences, there’s currently not. Just like if you want to experience being in space you have to wear a space suit, if you want to experience VR you have to wear a headset.

        • GHudston says:

          Why don’t you just go under the sea in real life where you don’t have to wear a pair of goggles! Wait…

  2. milligna says:

    Congratulating yourself already for the slow growth of consumer VR going as expected? A shame RPS doesn’t hire a writer to cover VR with a passion for it, it certainly makes for more interesting articles. Something informed and educated like “Cardboard Children” was for the facebox set would be nice… the coverage this year has been lacking tremendously.

    • yusefsmith says:

      RPS always allows its writers’ idiosyncratic style and opinions shine through in their articles.

      Literally hundreds of sites have cheerleaders for VR, if you’re looking for mindless boosterism, you’re not hurting for choice.

      Frankly I disagree with the author here but the new perspective is refreshing.

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        particlese says:

        What I’d love to read is more interested VR coverage retaining RPS-caliber critique. RPS’s writers seem interested in seeing it become a properly enjoyable medium and applaud it when it works, but coverage seems to always come with an explicit reminder that it’s just an expensive toy right now. Should already be obvious to most and so instead implied by the article, no? To be fair, I haven’t tried to write a whole article on any sort of videogame, so that could very well be harder than I think.

        But yeah…”cheerleaders” is a great word for most of the other VR coverage I’ve seen out there, and I’m at least happy RPS doesn’t stray into that territory.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      I have to agree – although I find your words a bit blunt. There’s a lot of potential in VR, but of course it’ll flop, it’s new, costly, representing a niche market. But unlike previous attempts of renewal of the interaction between man-machine, like Wii or kinect, VR seems to fit better with traditional games, being more of an evolution than an resolution.

    • yusefsmith says:

      Literally the next story in the queue:

      “Alice VR looks like a stunning example of how virtual reality can enhance gameplay. “

      • Cerzi says:

        Ironically a game that VR enthusiasts seem to have a generally negative opinion of.

    • kaiser says:

      I finally registered here because I want to mirror what this user is saying. I would love it if there was someone on this site that was a little more optimistic about the future of VR. Why not give it a chance? Why can’t we embrace something thats different, instead of sticking with the same way we have been consuming video games these last 40 or so years.

  3. Kefren says:

    My friends have done this at the local VR experience shop. It’s a good introduction – no time pressures, relaxing, a chance to get your VR legs. We hadn’t even realised it was reactive the first time – then someone tried to touch anemonies and they retreated, and the person stroked a big jellyfish. Even then I just assumed you couldn’t actually stop them. Even more impressed now. (I’ve only done other VR things, but might try this myself next time).

  4. JimThePea says:

    One of the best VR experiences I’ve seen so far is Sketchfab, not their app which only has a few 3D models, but going to their website on a WebVR-enabled browser and being able to see their entire repository of models in VR.

  5. Bum Candy says:

    Or if you wanted a similar experience that you can actually play, you could buy Subnautica which supports VR and is a great little game to boot. Kind of tired of the “there’s no games” argument, considering my VR library now consists of games ranging from space shooters, to multiplayer FPS, to homeworld esque space RTS and some things you just can’t experience without VR like REC Room.

    There’s a hell of a lot of good stuff for the Vive now. Nothing like a Witcher or a GTA, but people are just getting to grips with a whole new way of thinking about games, to expect full on GTA style experiences when VR is in it’s equivalent of an 8 bit era is a bit stupid to be honest.

  6. AlianAnt says:

    Every time John Walker or Adam Smith (iirc, he’s the other guy that shits on VR every chance he gets but I could be mistaken) says something against VR, I roll my eyes. My VR experiences have been nothing short of absolutely remarkable (except Minecraft VR… That was awful) and that might be attributed to not being a hopeless cynic desperately trying to bring my own prophecies to reality.

    I get it: not everyone likes VR. One of my sisters thinks VR was ridiculously underwhelming. Everyone else I know that’s tried it, however, thinks it’s the coolest thing ever but they just can’t afford it yet.

    But whatever. What do I know? I’m just a pleb writing a comment to the actual article.

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      Adam Smith says:

      I don’t think that’s me. I’ve enjoyed a lot of what I’ve played though I don’t own a headset myself, and I’m fascinated to see how designers might find applications for the tech, even though I’m not entirely sure it’s something I’d use a great deal myself. I did this interview in recent times: link to rockpapershotgun.com

  7. rb207 says:

    I would agree that there don’t seem to be any vr games that have taken off. chronos is really good but there’s not much out there that makes me want to hand over any cash.

    I think the lack of games is a major problem. Fps fans and strategy gamers are not going to be won over at this stage.

    Vr really is amazing though, luckily for me I love sim games, flight and driving sims are truly amazing and if my headset were to break I would be getting another one straight away.

  8. saillc says:

    I think I’d probably love VR, but like most of the population, I’m not remotely willing to shell out that much money for technology where each headset has its own set of glaring flaws, and that’s if I even could afford it. The number one issue is the insane entry price to the hobby, not only do you need to headset, but you also need a rig to run it comfortably. While I finally have a rig capable of doing that, I just don’t have an extra 800 dollars sitting around for VR, and if I did id rather spend it on another monitor or cpu first. It’s just a ton of money for most people to spend on essentially unproven tech. I know a lot of people on here disagree with rps general outlook on VR, but owners of VR equipment right now are such a minority anyhow, and it’s such a niche market that I really do understand the cynical perspective just like I understand the optimistic one. Let’s wait and see where VR takes us before making any definite statements on it though, that’d be my suggestion.

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    particlese says:

    I was actually a bit underwhelmed by TheBlu once I got around to it a month or so ago. I definitely had a lot of fun poking the jellyfish and poking my head through tunnels in the abyss, but the whale which knocked the socks off so many people was just kinda blah to me. Probably because it’s far from the first thing I saw in VR, but that’s still my impression.

    Given the potential of the heightened impact of interaction in VR, it would be nice to see more devs consistently nailing that aspect throughout the duration of their “experiences” or whatever one ends up calling them.

  10. Elric666 says:

    I think there should be more stuff like theBlu, but longer and perhaps a bit more “gamey”. Easy going VR experiences that require some interaction from the player every once in a while.

  11. Herring says:

    Yeah, seen this all before. I remember when the 3DFX Voodoo came out and it provided basically no new experiences _at all_. The lack of full games taking advantage of it immediately is the reason why 3D acceleration died a death and we’re stuck with rubbish software-based rendering to this very day.


    As I recall, the “chicken-and-egg” situation (no one developed for the tech as not enough people owned it, not enough people owned it because of the lack of support) was solved by existing games unofficially supporting it until a critical mass was achieved. Go go GLQuake etc.

    My Vive has been worth it for Elite alone but even without that I enjoy Raw Data, HoloShield, HoloPoint, The Solus Project, Budget Cuts, Final Approach. Some are incomplete, some are smaller games but they’re all pretty fun. Budget Cuts, Vanishing Realms and Raw Data especially show what’s possible and it’s incredibly exciting.

    Now that the Rift is going to have similar capabilities I’m hoping the development will benefit from not having a split-platform (Occulus exclusives not withstanding) too.