Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Various Tools
Publisher: Mekiwi Oy
Developer: Mekiwi Oy
Release Date: Dec. 17, 2019


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PS VR Review - 'ArtPulse'

by Cody Medellin on April 13, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

ArtPulse is a digital mix of painting and music creation in which players spawn shapes or paint free-handedly and hear how it all comes together into a song.

There are a number of games on PSVR that act like creation tools. The presence of a more freeform control scheme and the ability to see things in a more immersive environment is enough to make some mundane things cool again, and it also opens up another avenue for creative minds to express themselves in a different way. The lower barrier of entry is also essential, as it may lead to some people wanting to make the bigger leap into VR creation if the experience is a good starting platform. ArtPulse is the latest of these creation tools, but what you create is more limited than expected.

For the most part, you're given a blank canvas to work with and a host of creation tools. That's the premise, since only a few are actually creation tools, including things like triangles, squares, and a line tool. Everything else is fixed, like stars, spinning tops, and black holes; some of those things have set actions. You can control the color, placement and size of some of those things, while others have minds of their own, so you can fling them somewhere and see what happens.

The experience comes in three different flavors. The first is a simple blank canvas where you can choose the background and music you work with. Interestingly, your choice of music also gives life to the objects you place in the world, as they bump out tempos according to object type and color. The second experience type limits you to three minutes where you see everything in your inventory populate the world before the time expires and everything disappears. The final experience is a more cinematic one, where the game populates the world with a random assortment of objects from the toolbox. This is perhaps the most limiting of the experiences, since you can only use the line tool with an ever-changing array of colors.

What you have here is less of a creation tool and more of an experience. You can mess around in a virtual space and chuck everything around, and you move around with a control scheme that acts like you're driving an awkward car. Strangely, the movement works well, since there aren't too many things that your eyes need to focus on, so there's very little chance of you getting nausea from the experience. It is one of those things that is impressive for someone trying out VR for the first time, but its novelty wears out quickly, since there's not much else to do here from a sonic or visual standpoint.

Aside from not having a real objective, ArtPulse has one fatal flaw: the unknown limit of objects that can exist in one space at any time. You never realize that such a limit is in place until you look back at the objects you had previously placed and notice that they all disappear the minute you add one more object. It is an odd limitation, but it ensures that things run smoothly enough.

There's nothing wrong with ArtPulse being more of a toy than anything substantial. Sometimes it's fun to just goof off. There's not enough here to make the title realize its potential. The creation tools are woefully limited, and the game's ability to instantly delete things stifles one's creativity even more than the limited toolset does. The inability to share your creations or save them also hurts, but anyone hunting for some easy high-level trophies will be happy. For everyone else, ArtPulse would've been a perfect demo disc experience, but it shouldn't be something that you purchase for real money.

Score: 3.0/10

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