Vacation Simulator PSVR review

Steam up your goggles with Owlchemy’s sizzling summer sim, Vacation Simulator. Here’s our review…


Given the effort it takes to pull on a plastic headset and wire yourself in to enjoy virtual reality, it’s appreciated that Owlchemy Labs opted to simulate a vacation for… well, Vacation Simulator. A follow-up to the runaway success story of Job Simulator, a slice of absurd mundanity centred on office-based tasks, the studio’s last game was polished YouTube bait – but after completing the limited set of objectives, it did start to feel quite hollow.

This time around, Owlchemy offers a more versatile virtual destination. You can recline in three charming low-poly holiday biomes – a forest, a snowy mountain, and a grill-tastic beach resort – each populated by floating CRT monitors with both sharp corners and tongues. The freedom to teleport around locations has been grafted in, which is liberating compared to its static predecessor.

Of course, Owlchemy couldn’t settle for recreating the modern vacation experience without the addition of selfies, which use the in-game camera. These arrive in tandem with a character customiser; a fine addition, given one of the zones is a hotel room where you can brush your virtual fangs and gear up for another day of paradise. The dev team also proves itself adept in the comedy department too, with the game providing some big belly laughs. One poster I caught while riding the elevator down from my suite read ‘Vacation Island – It sure is a place’, which earned a good chuckle.

There are some surprisingly brilliant adventure game mechanics in Vacation Simulator. Items from one location are often best used in others, and you can collect them in your backpack for ease of access. Even outside of puzzles, I loved packing my bag with snacks for a day out in the forest. Owlchemy truly understands the strange joy of boring tasks – Vacation Simulator is a tour de force of endearing banality.

So many headset-bound titles feel like theme park rides that want to drag you from location to location doling out short, often violent vignettes that have been done to death. You can take your time to chill in Vacation Simulator, and the game won’t put the pressure on – a wholly underrated feature in VR. From volleyball to rock climbing and plenty of grillside maintenance, the activities are varied, interesting, and consistently toy with your expectations.

Unfortunately, the bane of PlayStation VR rears its head as soon as you strap on your Move controllers: the hardware’s practically neolithic compared to its competition. Tracking problems soon mount up, and drag you kicking and screaming from the chilled ambience, while a painting minigame with Bob Ross vibes is derailed by ruinous glitches. It’s definitely worth it if you don’t have any other headset, but Vacation Simulator using PSVR is the least intuitive version of a fantastic sandbox.


Vacation Simulator introduces ‘Memories’ – short tasks you must complete for the bots who inhabit the island to unlock more areas and activities to enjoy during your stay. It’s a clever, relaxed progression system with tons of varied objectives, like snapping pictures or delivering food.


Vacation Simulator is a delightfully silly summer fling hampered by some ancient peripherals.


Genre: Virtual reality
Format: PSVR (tested) / Other VR platforms
Developer: Owlchemy Labs
Publisher: Owlchemy Labs
Price: £26.99
Release: Out now

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