There was a moment while I was playing through the opening Yupitergrad tutorial that I thought “is this it?” Boy was I wrong!
Yupitergrad is a Russian-themed VR action game that requires you to travel through a spaceship by swinging your arms and utilizing rocket thrusters to get yourself around. Unlike most VR swing games that are based on mindless arm movement, Yupitergrad is much deeper and more technical.
In this Yupitergrad review, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this gem of a VR game. The game was developed by Gamedust and it has just launched for the Oculus Quest after coming out for Steam VR headsets in October last year.
Movement in Yupitergrad is largely performed with handy devices on your hands called “kosmosticks”. Whe you fire them, they shoot suction cups attached to long cables. After they stick to the walls, you use your arms to swing your momentum in the direction you want to go.
Movement mechanics are fairly polished in the game. Occassionally you get stuck trying to climb over obstacles, but nothing major. If you’ve played other swinging games like Windlands, To the Top (a top SideQuest VR game), or STRIDE, you’ll have a better starting point. For non-VR games, Portal would be one of the closest comparisons.
You start off with a fairly lengthy tutorial that gets you used to swinging your arms. It’s a good chance to get used to the motion and see how well your “VR legs” are. The game then introduces a few special mechanics: thrusters that mostly help you move in water and walls that can’t be stuck to. Later on, you’ll have to deal with moving wall panels and more obstacles in your way.
When you are done, you are told your true purpose. You are an astronaut assigned to travel to a spaceship called Yupitergrad. After a fun launch sequence and docking to a spaceship on Jupiter, your real story begins.
Story: Russia, Space, and Arm Strength
The majority of the game takes place on your spaceship, which is an endless design of long, narrow corridors. When you arrive, the rest of the team is nowhere to be found. Your first task is to help fill up the ship’s gas tank with a space liquid called Pekol. You soon find out that things won’t be so straight forward when one of your pumps fail on startup.
If you think this will be the only thing that doesn’t work, you are in for trouble. The next few hours are a comedy of errors and parts that aren’t working. You have to travel back and forth through the station to find objects and fix things up.
Mixed into Yupitergrad’s swinging are a few underwater scenes. When submerged, you forget about your Kosmosticks in favor of using your rocket thrusters. It’s a decent mix to the gameplay that tries to keep things fresh.
Along your journey, beware of things that can slice, dice, mame, and destroy you. It took me one swing up to take a peak at a moving fan before I had to play over the previous 5 minutes again.
Gameplay moves linear in fashion. There are no side quests or hidden agendas in Yupitergrad. There are about 50 different objectives to complete in the game. Most can be done in two or three minutes each. Variances in roof height, usable panels to stick to, and moving objects in your path keep things fresh and exciting.
Overall, the story clocks in somewhere between 2 and 3 hours, depending on how charming you think your AI command center is. There is no multiplayer mode, and we don’t see much reason to replay it.
No Instructions.. Necessary?
Despite its linear fashion, the lack of clear instructions in the game can be maddening. Early in the game, you are told to find a motor in a large, multi-story area. It took me a few minutes of mindless swinging before I found what piece I was looking for.
In other cases, tasks can be straight-forward and oversimplified. Swing through an area and find object X that the captain just told you about. Striking a balance in objectives is hit-and-miss.
Finishing the game requires completing around 50 different missions. After I finished, I felt like I had experienced everything that Yupitergrad had to offer.
Graphics and Presentation
Graphic-wise, Yupitergrad takes advantage of the cel shading used to simplify other VR titles (most recently in Jurassic Park: Aftermath). The setting fits the graphics better than Jurassic Park, where cel shaded dinosaurs looked ultra-cheap. The graphics aren’t distracting, though some objects you have to find throughout the game can be hard to recognize.
Presentation is where the game really shines. For starters, you take instructions from a charming Russian space general who gives you instructions and clues mostly via TVs located in each area. The script has some humorous moments and is light-hearted.
The storyline overall gets a thumbs up from us.
Other than the lack of hints as you play, Yupitergrad is very enjoyable.
One of the things you might notice in the Oculus store listing is the Moderate comfort rating. According to Oculus, moderate experiences are “appropriate for many but certainly not everyone. These experiences might incorporate some camera movement, player motion, or occasionally disorienting content and effects.”
Constantly swinging your arms along pathways and rooms definitely falls into player motion. But for the most part, we did not get disoriented playing. Gamedust has worked to minimize motion sickness in the game and I would say they succeeded.
Arm swinging did get tedious after a long playing time in VR, so shorter sessions are recommended to start.
Overall, Yupitergrad is a charming and challenging game. The swinging mechanics are smooth and made well for VR. The storyline has a nice purpose. Despite its moderate comfort rating, we didn’t find the game too disorienting.
The game’s biggest drawback is also what makes it challenging. Instructions are sparse in the VR game which means a lot of mindless swinging and searching. Cel shaded graphics make some objects hard to pick out at first glance.
If you are up for the challenge and want something more intense than another song in Beat Saber, Yupitergrad VR is for you.
SCORE: 70 / 100
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Check out the Yupitergrad review video below for a gameplay preview and more information.