Archives by Day

December 2023


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Firepunchd
Release Date: March 24, 2022


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'Tentacular'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 7, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Tentacular plunges you into the ocean-dwelling hulk of a gigantic, kind-hearted tentacled beast trying to figure out its place in the world.

Most VR games that aren't about performing real-life activities in a virtual world usually cast players in the role of a hero or other kind of combatant with a first-person perspective of doing something violent but awesome. Few of those games transform you from a regular human to a larger-than-life creature, like a giant gorilla in Rampage VR or an actual giant, like Good Goliath. Only one game, Ghost Giant, takes the concept of being a monster and makes it about anything else other than combat. That game now has company: Tentacular.

In Tentacular, you take on the role of a large but peaceful tentacled kaiju that's been raised by humans. On your 16th birthday, your human sister drops two pieces of big news on you. First, you're adopted. Second, per the laws of La Kalma island, you need to do your part for the community by finding a job. After passing a computer-created quiz, you go to your job, where you are exposed to the powers of a crystal in a buried spaceship. This leads to questions about yourself and why more crystals are appearing around the island, all while you try to maintain a job and help out the island inhabitants.

The narrative is pretty positive. The fact that you're a kaiju doesn't seem to freak out people, and there are no nefarious characters trying to end your existence or put you in a lab. There are no monsters to fight, and no one's mind needs to be changed about who you. There any no moments where you revert to a feral state. The title feels appropriate for kids or those who don't like bouts of conflict; this title exchanges excitement for a more calming experience.

As far as gameplay goes, Tentacular is a simple puzzle game that's played from a first-person perspective. You're tasked with a myriad of things, such as rescuing shipping containers and saving people from the ocean. You might be asked to place things in certain patterns, complete basic steps for placing a ship in an analyzer and operating the switches yourself. Later, you'll combine magnets with stuff in the environment to complete your tasks. Except for a few situations, each quest-giver provides specific steps to complete the task, and you can always ask them to repeat the steps.

Of course, the gimmick is that you're a giant cephalopod, and that is emphasized by the fact that you're controlling two giant tentacles and by the physics involved. Light things can easily be grabbed with one tentacle, but go after heavier objects, and you'll have to consider using two tentacles. Think about using the parts closer to your body for some added strength. Your appendages are naturally floppy, and even though you have tons of suckers to grab with, don't expect to have a ton of fine control.

That lack of fine motor control can make this seem like a simulator game where wacky physics are par for the course, but the game doesn't lean into that. There are times when the tentacles can make it difficult to place objects in certain ways, but things never inexplicably fly out of your grasp with a faint touch. It's all manageable, but if things get out of control, you have access to a reset house that can place every object where it should be without penalty. You're never placed in an impossible situation, whether you're cleaning up debris or using makeshift slingshots to knock things down.

While the campaign mostly consists of puzzles, there are plenty of side-quests. You can help a chef rebuild a restaurant or help the mayor fix up their house. There are various random tasks that you can help with, and all of them are engaging due to your unusual limbs. If you don't want to do any of that, you can go around each stage to find and pet the dogs. You could partake in just observing the island life as cars drive around while pedestrians go about their day. It's mesmerizing to observe all of this happen in a place that's quite small but teeming with more life than most open-world games.

There aren't too many issues with the gameplay. As mentioned before, the finicky physics system isn't as bad as expected from a faux simulator game, but it can be frustrating when some things are off, and the lack of automatic fine-tuning hinders you from completing tasks quickly. Residents are chatty, and while you can speed them up by tapping their heads, it also means having to hear the dialogue again if you want to move the quest-giver out of the way.

The campaign lasts about six hours, which is a good amount of time to be immersed in a VR experience. For those craving more, there is the playground where you'll be able to do whatever you want, which includes spawning in any items you're looking for to build and play around with. The mode is available very early in the game, but you can't play with everything until you finish the campaign. As a destruction sandbox, it works well enough and is something you might return to often since there aren't many VR games that offer something similar.

As far as accessibility goes, Tentacular does well in catering for every situation. The game lets you move around the play area by physically walking, and you can reach for objects above you instead of only paying attention to what's in front of you. You can be stationary in either a standing or sitting position, and you can move around with your analog sticks instead. Quick turns are available, as are blinders if you aren't accustomed to smooth movements yet. Just about every base is covered, with very little that can make the experience uncomfortable.

The presentation works out rather nicely. Everything from your tentacles to the islands has a low-polygon look that's mixed with some voxel details. It gives everything a cartoon-like look while ensuring that things run smoothly. The bright colors for the buildings and the world give off the feeling that you're at an Italian seaside village; the minimal movements used by every pedestrian and dog look adorable. There are no real voices in the game, and the music amplifies the sense of a calming journey.

Tentacular shows how well VR can be done once you stop limiting it to exercise, combat, and rhythm-based genres. The puzzles are simple to understand, and the presence of a timer doesn't make it frantic. Your floppy tentacles and the finicky physics can lead to some frustration, but all of your tasks are still possible. The presence of room scaling and analog stick movement makes the title accessible for many setups. It's all done with an adorable aesthetic and a runtime that feels meaty — even before you include the playground. Tentacular is a fun experience for VR fans who are looking for something calming, different and fun.

Score: 8.5/10

More articles about Tentacular
blog comments powered by Disqus