Update, 12 October 2019: It is sometimes amazing how certain game ideas suddenly appear out of nowhere, sometimes even from big studios like Sony Pictures. One such example is "Ground Hog Day: Like Father Like Son", what we have already reported on. From the US comedy "Groundhog Day" now follows 15 years later a funny puzzle adventure for virtual reality. But why actually? We were guests of Sony and the developers at Gamescom in August. In the meantime, we were able to test the game in detail.
Caught in the time loop
The plot of the virtual cult film sequel is quickly told. In "Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son" you slip into the role of Phil Connors Jr, the son of weatherman Phil Connors from the cult comedy "Groundhog Day". He returns to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to get caught in a time loop just like his father once did. The players have to solve puzzles and explore the world shown in the film in order to break out of this loop.
"We're not currently making a new 'Gound Hog Day' movie," Jake Zim, senior vice president of Sony Pictures VR Group, tells VR ROOM. He says it's also about reintroducing classic IPs to a new target audience. "It's our way of expanding the storyline into a new format," Zim said.
Action shooting vs. patience tasks
When we first played the game, the narrative part of the adventure seemed to us to be more of a sideshow, because the focus was strongly on dialogue puzzles and mini-games. At Gamescom, for example, I was confronted with a task in which I had to shoot coffee beans out of the sky with a kind of "space cannon". The task was to get them from the ether as quickly as possible in several successive salvos. But you have to manoeuvre a bit so that nothing misses. Boards that you turn over with the PS Move controller become jumps and transport aids, so that you can continue shooting at will. As often as you like until you get it right. There are no special point deductions for several failed attempts. It's obviously more about the fun of trial and error until the task is completed. So I have as many new attempts as I want. Besides, the coffee space spectacle wants to encourage people to continue with effective explosions.
However, there are actually not only mini-games to solve in the game. Just like in the film, you are caught in a time loop. "I Got You Babe": The catchy tune by Sonny and Cher also resounds from the radio alarm clock again. The next issue is to go downstairs and meet the family for breakfast. There are various scenes that you have to do something about. For example, you have to use a gallant throwing technique to scare away the cat from the bookshelf, which would otherwise tamper with the goldfish from the aquarium. The stubborn niece who listens to loud music and is not in a good mood that day could, if you do nothing, crash your father's car into the garage. She only seems to calm down when you've made the good lady a delicious vegan smoothie. Moreover, if you don't open the window, a snowball from playing children could shatter the pane. A bit exhausting: the scene repeats itself until you have found out how the morning breakfast procedure has a happy ending. But there are also constant new dialogues with new clues. Just like in a film. You are caught in a time loop and have to do something about it.
Proven concepts that work
Some of the mini-games are a bit exhausting because of the tracking. Apparently, this was not only the case when I first played the game at Gamescom. Another puzzle involved repairing a coffee machine from the inside. The dying piping system can no longer transport the water properly. Regardless of the occupational hazard of not being trained as a plumber, you are immediately given the task of switching various pipe parts and inserting sections in the oversized coffee machine so that the gruel flows properly again. This reminded me strongly of the nineties cult game "Pipe Mania" and made some nostalgic feelings bubble up in me. Nevertheless, the studio has also come up with a few ideas. For a change, you can fill a few large animal shapes with spray paint along the contours and have to be careful not to spill it.
At Gamescom, there was talk of "several hours" of puzzle fun. Raúl Rubio, the CEO of the Tequila Works development team, predicted that players and fans can also look forward to at least eight hours of narrative VR content. The script with the dialogue was even almost 600 pages thick. But the game was not simply born out of thin air, according to Rubio. Development began a good two years ago.
Raúl Rubio from Tequila Works also assures us that the game will also become more difficult over time and that certain puzzles will repeat themselves with new environmental effects: a bit like in the film, in which Phil Connors is confronted with similar everyday problems every day.
At Gamescom, we met Raúl Rubio, the CEO and Creative Director at Tequila Works (far left in the picture). I was already allowed to test the game.
- Funny, entertaining dialogue and characters
- Rich detail with many interactive objects
- Good story script, good game idea
- Mini-games that should better not exist
- Poor tracking of the two Move controllers
- Repetitive scenes can become boring after the fifth time.