The first time I experienced PlayStation VR will always be a special moment in my gaming career. Those first days, weeks, and months were a sensory overload. As time went on, though, it became harder for me to find experiences that really took me back to that moment when I first put the headset on. TO THE TOP is one of those experiences.
In this VR platformer, you must navigate sprawling levels that run the gambit from abstract landscapes to more identifiable obstacles. With excellent controls and a wonderful sense of movement, does TO THE TOP soar its way to the pinnacle of VR gaming? Let’s find out.
A Training Program Unlike Any Other
The story in TO THE TOP is a very intriguing concept, but unfortunately, the game doesn’t really run with it. Instead, the premise is used to explain the purpose of the 30 levels you’ll climb, slide, and soar your way through, but does little else to develop the game’s world or backstory.
You are part of an academy training program designed to hone your skills so you can pilot a futuristic robot in the real world. This creatively explains the abstract nature of the levels and the “virtual” nature of the world.
By completing your training here, it’s suggested that you will then pilot a similar suit in the real world as a modern day superhero of sorts. I would absolutely love to see a sequel where you can experience this side of the story, but as it stands, TO THE TOP focuses entirely on the training aspect of the narrative.
Thankfully, this doesn’t feel like training at all. Where words like tutorial and training may make some gamer’s eyes roll, TO THE TOP is a thrill ride from start to finish, so no need to worry. Using two PlayStation Move controllers, you can rotate in place using the Move button and gestures with your arms to grab and turn the screen.
Holographic versions of your hands appear on blue surfaces, indicating you can grab on with the trigger. The game pulls you over and shows your actual robotic hand on the surface at this point. When you have both hands on a surface, you can let go at once to leap in any given direction before grabbing on to the next obstacle.
This simple control scheme works incredibly well. If you’re feeling confident, you can leap and soar through these levels like the robotic superhero you are. The tracking is absolutely perfect, and the controls are both tight and responsive, as they should be for this type of game.
There are some comfort settings on by default, but I removed these to really engage in the sense of movement TO THE TOP offers. Through a combination of sprawling level design, excellent depth, and some motion blurring, I really felt like I was flying through the air. Falling to my death was even a thrilling descent.
The use of color-coded items in the levels and the addition of new traversal methods and mechanics keep the experience feeling fresh, while multiple medals and collectibles in each level give you a reason to come back for a higher score.
With all of this going for it, TO THE TOP offers a lot of exciting gameplay and a solid amount of replay value. Fans of VR platforming, or the sense of movement it offers, will find a lot to love here.
A Simple and Defined Presentation
TO THE TOP uses a relatively simple art style that focuses on color coding to help the player understand what they can and cannot grab onto, slide across, or otherwise engage with. The sense of scale and depth in the levels is one of the game’s best qualities. It’s an amazing feeling to climb your way through a gauntlet, only to stand at the top, turn around, and see all that you have conquered.
The graphics looked very crisp on a PS4 Pro. The only thing that struck me as odd, was the low-resolution image that appeared whenever I used an orb to “enter” the next level. Once the level loads in everything looks fine, but that blurry image you get while it’s loading was jarring from a visual standpoint.
The soundtrack is also an eclectic collection of licensed tracks that offer upbeat and catchy vocals. It’s an interesting choice to include music like this in a game where the focus is key, but it actually works really well here, thanks to smart choices in the game’s tracks.
There’s very little I didn’t like about TO THE TOP. As a VR platformer, it stands tall among the best options on the platform. The game’s premise was really interesting, and while I wish they had explored that concept more, I’ve got my fingers crossed for a sequel.
In the meantime, I suggest you let TO THE TOP climb its way to the peak of your wishlist.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A copy of TO THE TOP was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
/Insert date - 8/15/18