Play it on: Windows (VR required)
Current goal: Don’t punch my damn window again
Buy it from: Steam
I love how VR can make video games physical in ways they’ve never been before. Consider Climbey. Here’s a game all about scaling large structures, and you get to do so with your hands, arms, and (if you have body trackers) feet. You can also leap like a Brooklyn plumber, but not with a button. Instead you use both hands to grip the air in front of you and then violently fling it downward, hurling yourself upward with a velocity congruent with the gesture. This satisfying, intuitive action is both tactile and rife with subtleties, offering a very high ceiling for not just mastery, but accidental comedy.
Like many of my favorite games, Climbey makes movement fun. In fact, the movement is the fun. Even its arm-swinging walking method is unusual. In addition, Climbey’s lack of regard for conventional realism sets it apart from more sedate, boxed-in VR climbing experiences. More akin to a 3D platformer, this is as artificial a game world as has ever existed, with abstract obstacle arrangements limited only by creators’ whims. You’ll clear the 15 built-in levels in short order, but over 1,000 player-built courses await on Steam Workshop.
The multiplayer’s good, too. Offer a friend a helping hand upward, or just cling to their back as they traverse a tricky spot. I’ve enjoyed two Climbey sessions with a pal so far, and it’s proven a great venue to just hang out and shoot the shit as we engage with the endless procession of hand-over-hand climbs, controlled falls, and all-or-nothing leaps. VR needs more open-ended, creative, highly physical games like this. If you’ve got someone to play with Climbey’s well worth the eight bucks, and it may also be if you don’t. — Alexandra Hall