Survival of the fittest. Living off the land. The rock is my pillow. These sayings have a lot in common today just as in our past. We have progressed since the time of our prehistoric world. But knowing what we know now, how well could we have survived back then with given just the basic tools for survival? It’s kind of interesting when you think about it. But does developer 17-Bit rekindle the love? Let’s find out with Song in the Smoke: Rekindled for the PlayStation VR2.
Song in the Smoke: Rekindled takes players on the role of a hunter-gatherer in a prehistoric world where they must use their skills to survive in the harsh environment, by crafting weapons and tools, building shelters, and foraging for food against a variety of animals to hunt, including deer, rabbits, and birds. So before trying to survive off the land, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, make sure you have your favorite place to sit or stand and make sure there is plenty of arm space to move around. You will be hunting and defending what’s out there and you want to make sure that you don’t hit anything. Second, make sure those Sense controllers are charged. You don’t want to become food because you forgot to charge them. Third, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone and I am only showing from the early parts of the game. This is about survival and trust me, you will want to be surprised by what’s out there. And finally, take your time and enjoy. With all that said, let’s continue…
Some may be thinking that since Song in the Smoke has already been released on other platforms including PlayStation VR, what is with the Rekindled version? Well, you do get all the same features that you may already know and love, but with upgraded graphics with enhanced environment visuals, 90fps, an optional free jump mode, the PlayStation VR2 haptics, and, of course, those fantastic Sense controllers with thumbsticks. So what we have here is basically the ultimate version of the game.
For those that have never played the game and may have been waiting for the PlayStation VR2 version to actually play, survival is in your hands. You will be entering a dangerous world, crafting weapons, making clothes, building fires, and brewing potions to defend yourself against vicious predators. Block, parry, and strike back with your club, attack from distance with your bow, or use your wits to sneak past the lethal creatures that call this land their home. You will need to use your senses to stalk prey in virtual reality: track their smell, follow footprints, and plan your strike. When you’re ready, show off your skill with intuitive and responsive VR controls that let you execute the perfect shot, feeling the tension when readying your bow and arrow with advanced haptic effects via the Sense controllers. Basically survive if you can, survive if the world lets you.
Starting out, I could see the very strong details of the graphics with the PlayStation VR2 headset and I haven’t even started actually playing yet. Things were bright and just taking a moment to hear what was going on around me added to the immersion. Before you can get into play, you have to select if you are going to play as a male or female. The choice is yours. You can then immediately start or go into Options where you can set how you want things such as the Brightness and Graphic Settings will be. If you prefer Quality over performance or vice versa, the choice is yours. You also have the options for Audio, Gameplay, and VR. In the VR option, this is where you can turn on Free Jump, and decide if your movement and turning are going to be smooth or if you prefer snapping. Again, the options are yours to select from.
Once you are ready, you need to choose your path. Gentle is for the casual player and survival could maybe be more successful. Normal is the original experience where you keep the elements in check and you need to be very afraid of the dark. Then you have Savage. Do you like the taste of blood? Do you want to fear everything? If so, then be that warrior. Again, the choice is yours to make. Once you made your choice, it’s off with the tutorial of sorts will you fill find out how to move, which I will say, just feels so good with the Sense controllers, learn how to eat, how to handle your inventory, craft weapons, and make campfires. Building campfires is essential as it’s the way of saving your progress. But I have to say, seeing the crow up close at the beginning and even seeing it sit with the sun behind it, really shows why the PlayStation VR2 version is the ultimate version.
Being that this is prehistoric times, you can only do so much and will need the help of elements such as creating fire to see for when it is dark or even use it as a weapon when you may have broken your other weapons in combat. Yes, fire is effective in combat as my club broke as they don’t make them like they used to. Wait.
Speaking of weapons, when you have your bow and you pull it back to fire your arrow, the tension that you feel with the Sense controllers just adds to the immersion. But you will find that using a combination of items allows you to make different weapons such as a knife, club, shield, and spear for example. There will be times when you could be poisoned, attacked, and even need more stamina. This is where you make tonics by crafting different ingredients found in the game.
There are different areas that you will need to reach and solve puzzles to progress. But as someone who has awoken in this world with no idea of your past, it’s the story that helps you start to understand why you are where you are. And since you are trying to figure out everything, I do really enjoy how the inhabitants of this world react to you. You go charging at an animal, it’s going to run. You start to wonder where you shouldn’t and you could easily be attacked. But it’s not all just about collecting items and the world, well, I mean it is, but you have more to worry about such as your health and body temperature levels so you don’t die. And you do this in a variety of environments from forests to mountains, that even though those dangerous times, do hold those resources that can be valuable for your survival.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. Graphically, the game looks fantastic with the enhanced visuals, the 90fps, and other features that the developer used thanks to PlayStation VR2. When you can stand underwater that is falling and actually feel it thanks to the headset haptics, it just shows those smaller details along with the art design, that may have not been thought about otherwise, really shows the importance of the details that have been used. Being able to free jump and still looking at everything just adds to what is an already great experience. With the sound, even before starting the game to the further I got, I paid attention to the sound. Not only was looking at how clear the water was on the ground, but it sounded clearer and more natural. Hearing the stone goes against the rock as your torch lights up to even gathering from your fallen prey, all had the right sounds. Maybe that had to do with the Pulse 3D Audio headset or maybe, again, the details that were added, along with the soundtrack, just completed the immersion.
It’s hard to say what I would like to see added here when it has everything that one could possibly be looking for when trying to survive in a prehistoric era with new features. I guess one thing would be more weather effects and just having more of nature’s elements come into play. Imagine walking when it’s dark, hearing something out there, and then a lightning bolt hits the ground or very high winds, and how that would add to the game. The only other thing I would love would be more of this world.
Song in the Smoke: Rekindled still has set the bar for the survival genre and took the added features from PlayStation VR2 and raised its own bar higher. It puts us on a journey of adventure into a world with nothing and tries to give us everything to be successful. In life, we are given the tools to succeed even when sometimes we may not have the guidance for direction. Sometimes we may fail, but it’s when we fail and get up to try again, that we can truly survive.
Song in the Smoke: Rekindled is out now digitally on the PlayStation Store. If you own the PlayStation VR version of the game, you can receive a free upgrade to the PlayStation VR2 version. The physical edition is also available thanks to the partnership with Perp Games at a retailer near you and at the Perp Games Store. A code was provided
Also, check out the Song in the Smoke: Rekindled video review:
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to try the Savage path.