I have a crippling fear of heights.
I reviewed The Climb, a VR game focused on climbing mountains and cliff sides high above the earth below.
And I absolutely loved it.
When you begin The Climb, you are taken through a tutorial to familiarize yourself with the controls. In this tutorial, you begin with your feet planted on firm ground. As you climb, you learn techniques and the rules of stamina for the game. The mechanics are fairly simple and easy to comprehend. Though I’ll say I had trouble with jumps through the entirety of my playthrough.
As you proceed through the climb paths, you gain experience and levels. There are challenges you unlock through leveling, and some that you unlock through challenges. The unlocks reward you with different aesthetic items such as gloves and bracelets, none of which improve your stamina or ability to climb. I’ve never been an achievement hunter, so this part didn’t appeal to me very much.
Completing basic levels grants you access to higher difficulty courses. Paths become more complex as standard grips can sometimes crumble or be covered with rocks and need to be cleared before being gripped. You’ll quickly need to employ more terrifying gap-crossing jumps to get to the next challenge. You’ll climb wires across ravines, posts that jut out and break, plunging you to your death. Luckily you can respawn at your last check point, marked by a carabiner clip. Falling to your death is quite disorienting the first time it happens, but like any VR game with a falling mechanic, your brain adjusts and doesn’t react after the first few times.
If you’re out of shape like me, even the basic courses can get strenuous toward their ends. There are three “breaks” in a course. These platforms you arrive at allow you to stand free of grips, shake your arms out, and recoup before your next path. Your arms will get tired. Your deltoids will hurt, even if you were fairly sure they didn’t exist. But is all that worth it, you ask?
Hell yes, it is.
When you reach the apex of each climb, you stand atop a platform and survey the kingdoms you’ve conquered. This game makes the strain of a climb all worth it. The Climb is built in the Crytek engine, and it really luxuriates in the engine’s abilities.
There are 4 different geographic regions where your climbs take place: North – an arctic landscape, Bay – an tropical island adventure, Alps – a jungle escape, and Canyon – a trek on the walls and plateaus of an area reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. Each region has a different atmosphere that makes for so much more of an experience. The pinnacle of the North, as does the rest, has a distant volcano erupting far into the distance. You can watch this go on for as long as you’d like, from what I could tell, there were no loops in these animations. They were all rendered in real time. In addition to the volcano, you can watch puffins fly about, glaciers crack and fall apart, whales breaching, a submarine surfacing, and planes buzzing below you. They truly make reaching the top worth the expense.
I couldn’t find many of them, but the levels are also littered with trinkets and (what I presume to be) Easter eggs. I found a lawn gnome and a tiny UFO, among other things.
I started this review talking about my fear of heights. I didn’t really mention it again. Somehow, that’s the amount of impact it had on my enjoyment of this game. Oh, and final word: Don’t play this game with low ceilings unless you like scraped knuckles.
An Oculus code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.