There is just something that translates so well when you have Virtual Reality and hand-drawn art. Something just makes it pop when you mix the two. Something that just makes you want to stay, enjoy and appreciate what actually all went in to make the world so special. And I am happy to say that Pop-Up Pilgrims from Dakko Dakko for the PlayStation VR gives us just that.
If Pop-Up Pilgrims seem familiar, that’s because it is. You may remember Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims HD for the PlayStation Vita. In Pop-Up Pilgrims, you play as a Cloud God where your worshiping and devoted pilgrims will follow you because they are pilgrims and they have seen the light of the Cloud God. It is your job to help safely guide the pilgrims to the exit of each of the Japanese inspired stages and help destroy the six powerful demons who each hold one of Floating Cloud God’s sacred scrolls.
What I really like is the this is a 2D platformer, but adding VR to the mix and you have it turn into this 3D area that’s almost wrapped in a way like it was tailored just for you. You will be using the Dualshock 4 and the PSVR headset as a curser if you will and using the Right stick to move to the pilgrim you want to control. As they move around on the levels, you will use the Left stick to move the cloud back and forth depending on where the pilgrims are on what platform at any given time, L2 to roll-jump to have your pilgrim jump to the next platform and doing all of this while trying to collect these golden octopuses before leading the pilgrims to the exit so you can move to the next stage and hold down to R2 to place cloud commands. Using X to cancel a Cloud Command and Triangle to speed things up. I will say at first it seems like the controls can be frustrating, but don’t give up. Once you understand what to do, it really starts to flow.
Sounds simple right? Well, for the most part, it can be simple. I mean you have these beautifully drawn stages and these pilgrims trying to not anger any gods all while collecting the golden octopuses. So when I first started, I decided to name the pilgrims, but not so much as normal names, I decided to name them in the form of wrestlers. I had Rey Mysterio, the Glorious Bobby Roode, I had Woken Matt Hardy, Braun, Brother Nero, AJ Styles, Shane-O-Mac and of course I needed someone that would make me say YES! YES! YES!…so I had Daniel Bryan. So there we were minding our own business when it hit me, I accidentally killed everyone except AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. Just remember to study the levels to help you succeed.
Yes, it was I who allowed my pilgrims, the ones that I was supposed to help protect and just allow them to get to the exit so that all of them would be safe and so that all of them would be allowed to move on together. But no, I failed. I failed and I felt bad about it. The only thing missing was The Undertaker saying R.I.P. But AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan with his Yes! Yes! Yes! made me push on. Then the next stage was upon us and expecting the rest of the guys to join us, I was hit with the harsh reality, that that was it. My errors cause death and thus they could not join us. There was just AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan left, but we had to move. Thank you, Daniel Bryan, for your positivity through this struggle in all our lives.
With new enemies being introduced and the ability to change into different classes such as an Archer or Warrior, it surely adds freshness to the mix. At the end of each world is a boss battle that is unique and just fit nicely in this world. I will say that sometimes the boss battles are a little tedious, but don’t give up, do it for the pilgrims. At the end of each level is where you get to see where you ranked and hopefully you get at least the bronze so that you can unlock the next part.
If you have a 2nd Dualshock 4 and a friend, they can join in the fun. Controlling a pig, yes a pig, to either help or hinder the outcome by collecting the golden octopuses or knocking the pilgrims off the edge. Is this mode needed? No, but depending on who you have there with you, they will either continue being a friend or you throw them out. Remember pilgrim lives do matter and we should all care.
Some may not like the music that was selected, but it works in this world and doesn’t need to be this pounding electric sound. It has this certain sound to it. Hearing the almost at times of whistling, flutes, and strumming of the stings, I actually took off the PSVR headset, put on the headphones and listened to the music as I was writing this review. Immersion wise, I did feel like this world was created for me, but I loved how I was surrounded by the clouds and the hills with this old Japanese feel to it like it was a tale told and passed on by generations. It just shows the different levels along with the foreground that makes me appreciate VR even more.
Pop-Up Pilgrims does what it set out to do, create a 2D adventure in VR. The colors pop and things can get chaotic at times, which is good as it keeps busy and not just having to focus on one particular thing. I just wish there were some leaderboards added to the mix to see how each of us rank globally. But I do appreciate that once I had the controls figured out, things became more simple even though I still lost my pilgrims.
Pop-Up Pilgrims is out now on PlayStation VR. A review copy was provided.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to show these demons that you do not mess with my pilgrims.