There’s a good chance you’ve seen or heard about Vacation Simulator by now, as it’s one of the more popular Oculus Quest launch titles. The premise is simple: take control of four different vehicles and find ways to score points. It has an appealingly bright and ‘jam-packed’ art style (to use a VR term that I like) and is well polished in general.
But behind the lovely exterior lies a game in which you quickly lose interest.
So, Vacation Simulator is like little mini-games strung together by an overarching theme of ‘go play this fun thing’. You can ride around on an inflatable unicorn or duck (or fight with them – the choice is yours!), pilot a helicopter, paint robots, drive/pilot vehicles and more. That sounds great! A brilliant variety of different activities that never get boring. Nope, not at all. The problem with these activities is that they’re actually quite shallow when you get down to it…
Vacation Simulator’s biggest issue is figuring out what kind of game it wants to be. Each activity has its own scoring system and rules,
and sometimes you even need to complete tasks to unlock them. This makes sense for the helicopter and painting robot activities, but the others should be immediately playable instead of needing a certain number of points first. The biggest offender here is the inflatable unicorn part, where you’re supposed to pop as many balloons as possible within 60 seconds. It sounds fun on paper – and it was! Until I realized there’s no way to keep score or see what my current highest score is. After popping every balloon that comes into view, I was left with nothing else to do because I had no idea if any other areas could still give me points… so, I just quit and moved on to the next activity (which happened to be driving a boat).
The inflatable unicorn activity is also the only part that felt like it needed some kind of completion. The balloons are small targets, and you can’t drive very fast on inflatable wheels either. This makes it incredibly easy to get hit by one, lose speed and quickly fall behind in points. I had far more success with just cruising around slowly than actually trying to pop balloons.
The game’s biggest strength lies in its helicopter activity, which requires you to ascend by rotating your controller (you try to follow the green beacon).
I did feel a sense of achievement after having played for 10 minutes or so though – which brings me back to my first point: Vacation Simulator should be immediately playable instead of needing a certain number of points first! After struggling to get off the ground for a while, I was glad to have finally accomplished ‘something’.
The last activity is driving a boat. It’s… fine. There’s nothing special about it and you can barely even go uphill because the water physics are so easygoing. And if you do manage to get onto land somehow, you’ll be stuck there until you restart or opt-out of the activity via the menu. Even trying to climb over rocks with another vehicle didn’t work! The boat has way too much grip on any surface that isn’t water. This combined with how squishy your wheels can get after hitting something makes it hard to play this part without feeling frustrated at times (especially when I suddenly found myself underneath a rock once). Vacation Simulator is a game that impresses you in the beginning. It certainly has charm and does its best to make sure each activity feels unique and different with its own scoring system and goals (to some degree).
However, it’s quite hard to play for long periods of time without getting bored because there isn’t much variation or depth. The inflatable unicorn part especially falls flat when you realize it has nothing else to offer other than popping balloons… even if I were able to keep score somehow, what would be the point?
I know this review sounds rather critical – but my overall impression of Vacation Simulator is actually good! Despite its lack of content and flaws, the core idea is still fun: just go out and play something without having to worry about dying or a score.
I’m hoping the developer will add more activities and content in future updates because Vacation Simulator has a lot of potentials! I love how charming it is, the sense of wonder when trying something new for the first time and how relaxing it can be when you’re not being attacked by yet another shark as you traverse through the sea with your inflatable unicorn.
You’d think sharks would have enough to eat with everyone already swimming around so close together… but no! They also need to go after me now too -_-
If you want a truly relaxing experience, playing this on an easy mode where everything just gives you points instead of a standard scoring system might just do the trick. It may not be a full-fledged VR game, but it’s still worth checking out!
Thank you for reading this article.