Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

Kayak VR: Mirage Soca Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

A unique virtual reality experience on both PlayStation VR2 and PC VR, Kayak VR: Mirage gets its first DLC, Soca Valley.

I love virtual reality. But spending hours playing a triple-A VR game only to emerge boss-eyed and with a headache is not my favourite use of the technology. Rather than re-jigged regular games, I prefer dedicated VR experiences that immerse me in ways a flat game just can’t.

Kayak VR: Mirage fits the bill.

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

Not only is it one of the more pleasant VR titles available, Kayak VR: Mirage is also one of the prettiest and most realistic. It’s just you in a kayak paddling around meticulously detailed environments from Australia to the Antarctic. It’s an immersive photoreal VR experience available for both PlayStation VR2 and PCVR via Steam.

The idea is simple, which makes it a great showcase for your VR kit. You are sitting in a kayak on the water. Using your controls, each one a hand holding your oar, you paddle as you would in real life to move your little boat. The water and environment are physically modelled. This means that you can dunk your paddle for sharp turns as well as push off using rocks.

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

The game starts with a tutorial in a pool before allowing players to select a destination from Australia, Costa Rico, Norway and Antarctica. You can also select day or night, and in the case of Norway, stormy weather as well.  Players can explore the environments in free roam, enter races or just take an automated tour around the scenic landscapes (perfect for showing off VR to relatives who may have difficulty with the controllers).

As amazing as the game is, fans have been clamouring for DLC. Whilst, annually, the developer ironically dresses up the Australian environment like a winter wonderland, complete with Santa flying across the sky and Christmas trees, many of us have felt that they have missed a trick.

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

Kayak VR may be the game that you can use to show off virtual reality to your grandma as she takes a leisurely guided cruise of the Costa Rican waterways in tour mode, but what about something a bit more dynamic? Sure, the stormy Norwegian fiord offers a bit of danger and proves that the water simulation is first class, but what about a bit of white water?

 

With the Soca Valley DLC, as well as a beautiful new Slovakian environment to explore, VR kayakers can now try their hands at negotiating a bit of fast-moving white water. Devilish currents and protruding rocks can easily wrestle control of your tiny vessel. Add in multiple waterfalls and even a cave, and you are in for quite the adventure. The river splits up allowing you to take different routes with different hazards.

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

It wasn’t long before I found myself being carried away backward towards sudden drops before ending up beached on a rock in the middle of the fast-moving river. It isn’t a log flume, so don’t expect a theme park ride. It’s a realistic white-water experience rather than a deadly stretch of water that no one in their right mind would paddle in. This may disappoint thrill-seekers but is in keeping with the grounded experience of the main game.

 

As well as the excitement of paddling in fast-moving water, you can opt to start at the town, near the impressive arched bridge with cheering onlookers that signifies the end of the rapids upstream. This is a more leisurely experience, that also serves to highlight just how large this new area is.

Just as I thought I was reaching the end, a tiny crevice opened into another canyon. Eventually, the river widened to showcase a breathtaking mountainous vista. A close encounter with the local wildlife had me paddling away into another enclosed gorge before finally reaching a tunnel that lead into a dark cavern and the end of my journey.

As with the other locations, you can also experience Soca Valley in the dark. I found this a bit too dark, to be honest. On the PSVR 2, it also highlights the device display’s awful blotchy Mura effect which I didn’t get playing on the Meta Quest 3 via Steam Link (this game is not available natively for Meta Quest).

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

 

If you are after a bit of challenge, the race mode is made a little bit more exciting with the addition of a raging current. The Slalom course through the more vicious sections of white water will have you paddling in a frenzy trying to get through the gates and ahead of the competition.

This new Soca Valley DLC is a notable addition to the main Kayak VR: Mirage game, and completes it, to be honest. The meat of the game is still in the variety of environments that the whole package offers players, rather than in this extra area, alone.

Kayak VR: Mirage So?a Valley DLC PlayStation VR2/PC VR review

If you have a compatible VR set-up and have not picked up Kayak VR: Mirage now’s the time to do so, with the Soca Valley DLC, and enjoy one of the most immersive VR experiences available today.

Rating: Great

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