Extinction level events are only a matter of time, and it seems in the year 2033, humanity is at risk of being wiped from the Earth by a prehistoric virus. Although you are the newest member of the research team, you are tasked with traveling to four distinct time periods to study ancient underwater dinosaurs. By observing how these creatures swim, hunt, and live in the oceanic depths, you may find clues on how to beat the infection in the present timeline. Interacting with dinosaurs in virtual reality seems like a dream come true, but Time Machine VR feels too educational and less intriguing than promised.
The virus, with the capacity to wipe out all of humanity has been trapped within the polar ice caps for millions of years, but as the ice recedes, it is released. After your crash course on how to properly travel back in time and study living organisms, you’re training is put on hold in order to save the lives of every human on Earth. This sets the reasoning behind your journey, but being able to get up close and personal with these creatures were my main draw to complete the game.
The levels aren’t overly lengthy, and you’ll be doing the same tasks in each one, except using different variations of scanners and trackers. You never step foot outside of your pod, which works well for the type of experience Minority Media is trying to convey, especially since it “grounds” the player and helps reduce or even remove any and all VR sickness. The pod is fairly maneuverable, although slow, using traditional first-person control mechanics with the DualShock 4 and your head for camera control. Your pod comes equipped with unique equipment that unlocks as you progress through the game. Exploration does allow you to take advantage of the awesome looking creatures and dinosaurs, but traveling back to the objective can be time-consuming, depending on how “out of the way” your journey took you.
The main attraction in Time Machine VR is seeing how close you can get to the dinosaurs, while not getting eaten at the same time. Although to get their attention, you do sometimes force smaller animals to swim to the incoming path of the larger ones, acting as bait. You can fill in the gap on what happens to them. While you have various gizmos to help you study the creatures, you also have the ability to slow down time to a crawl. This allows you to venture as close as you want to some of the most terrifying prehistoric creatures that ever lived. At one point, you need to enter the gaping mouth of one of these ginormous beings without becoming lunch, and without controlling time, it wouldn’t be possible. Just be careful, as your time control power can only be used for a set amount of time before it must recharge. You don’t want to be too close to a hungry Pliosaurus when it does.
As you complete the tasks set before you, you are guided by your artificial intelligent assistant. You never feel like you are meant to explore on your own, as your trips to the past are quite linear. Even if you "die" in the past, you simply are reset and allowed to continue your mission without any repercussions. After completing the story mode, you can learn additional facts and collect missing data for all of the creatures you see during exploration mode.
Time Machine VR is an enjoyable trip back in time, however, I didn't feel the need to complete any exploration after finishing the story. It's an intriguing way to teach people about these creatures without opening a textbook, but the "game" side of it needs to be more fleshed out.Note: Time Machine VR was reviewed on PlayStation VR. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.