Virtual Reality is pure power fantasy. It can bring you closer to the action than any other game system, making every shooter feel more visceral, every city builder more tactile, and every puzzle all the more engrossing. It can even turn you into a giant suction-cupped kaiju just trying to find work in his small coastal town. With huge wobbly tentacles, it was time to see if Tentacular was spectacular!
The funny thing about being funny is that games labeled as comedy are rare. Oh, they try, but that’s the worst tragedy of all – trying so hard and falling short. Well, Tentacular isn’t one of those games. Tentacular is charming, effortless, and really laughs out loud and funny on more than one occasion. From the opening moments, when that tiny human the size of a single one of your suckers reveals…and sorry for the spoilers here…you’re adopted. I know it’s a slap but it’s true. Worse, the mayor wants to speak to you right away. That’s never a good sign.
Upon arrival at City Hall, head to your meeting with the City Council. Or more specifically, you lift the entire ceiling of the building with your bony arms and suction cups and open it up to the surprise of those below. You unfortunately deliver the worst news you could get while still reeling from the shocking news of your adoption – you need to get a job. Can this day get any worse? Well after the AMT (the locals who sort of decide job roles) decided that the best role you could possibly have is that of a garbage collector. Oh, scream it out loud…what do you mean I’m adopted?!
The fun part…well, there really isn’t a shortage of that, but one of the funniest parts of Tentacular is that there’s no shortage of it. Yes, you can follow instructions and do as you are told. You can stop touching the person who doesn’t want to be patted on the head. You can stack the containers as you like. You can also throw them out to sea. Yes, the containers and the people. In fact, there’s very little you can’t throw into the ocean, and somehow nobody judges you for it. Everyone’s brought their floaties and no one bats an eyelid — I guess that’s what you do when you have a completely unadopted octopus kid next door who tends to throw things for fun. There are challenges, but the game is in no rush to make you complete them. Well, that’s not entirely true.
Each area has a clock mark time that tells you how long you spent on a task. Whether you choose to do this or not is really up to you, but it’s still there. Tick. Mark the passage of time. Inevitable… inexorable… immutable time. Propagation to infinity… ticking. Anyway, you have tasks that you need to complete in order to get to the next area, some more complex than others but all self-contained. For example, one job asks you to simply stack some containers floating in the water in a T-shape and then take a picture. Simply. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t been overly excited about my handiwork and blown it to the wind with a flick of my noodley appendage. Embarrassed (can unadopted octopuses blush?), I casually reassembled my simple structure and took a picture, being careful not to put my tentacles in front of the lens. Job complete, a man flying a hot air balloon floated down with the switch that said ‘next’. I grabbed the switch, flipped it down, and got on with my next job.
Speaking of switches, one of the best examples of the whimsical font in Tentacular is Mr. Reseto. I’m not sure if he’s related to Mr. Resetti in Animal Crossing, but Mr. Reseto lives in a small house on a stick. When you break into his house, you’ll find a reset button that you can use to reset the level to try again. It’s his only job and he’s doing it exceptionally well. He’s worth getting to know, though, so make sure you visit him and have a chat or two.
Tentacular takes place in the island town of La Kalma, and with you around, that name hardly fits. Every job asks you to do increasingly complex and minute tasks, and the fact of the matter is that your arms are absolutely massive and often unfit for the work at hand. Lifting heavy crates, moving shipping containers, salvaging small items, and manipulating machinery can mean unlimited mayhem and damage no matter what your intent. Just like other physics-based games, that’s half the fun.
The PlayStation VR2 really shines in Tentacular. The fact is, Tentacular is already available on Steam and Meta Quest 2, but neither of those platforms has the feel of Sony’s new HMD. Every time you stack a box, crank a machine, pull a shipping container, or otherwise engage with the world, you’ll feel it. Grabbing with the tip of your tentacle is often a shaky proposition – you’ll want to use the meatier part of your grippy noodles, but you’ll feel the struggle if you don’t. It’s all very subtle, but it’s the sort of thing meant to flaunt advanced haptics.
As you help the citizens of La Kalma (and their shockingly advanced science and extraterrestrial research department—seriously, how much of their local government budget goes to this?!), you’ll learn new concepts. One moment you’re throwing containers, the next you’re using the power lines to launch them like a slingshot. Next, you’ll use magnets, test rockets, and help with alien research. Now it’s time to redecorate the mayor’s office. Tentacular is everywhere, and that’s half the fun.
Although you’re not adopted yet, there are a few issues with Tentacular. I’ve had a handful of issues where the scene freezes. This kind of harrowing freeze isn’t good for nausea. The fact that the game only supports smooth movement can also be rough for some, but thankfully that wasn’t the case for me. I also had a series of tracking hiccups, with my noodly arms flailing around as the game struggled to position them, beating up the scene. During Tentacular’s more precise moments, it can also mean a rep or two. The game is about as casual as it gets, so it hardly feels like a penalty.
While Tentacular is made up of bite-sized missions, the game is surprisingly long — around 7 hours, in fact. I don’t recommend beating the entire game in a single session. One of the only nitpicks I have with Tentacular, aside from the occasional tracking hiccup, is exposure. Each mission is punctuated by many explanations from your fellow La Kalma citizens. While you can tap the speakers on the head to speed them up (with a satisfying feedback), or you can press the O button, you still have to wait a long time before you can get going while the clock ticks in the background.
Tentacular is a fun little sandbox game that’s as fun as it is hilarious. Filled to the brim with moments, it’s great for VR newbies or those who just want a break from all the super serious shooters and world-saving simulations.
PROS Adorable audio and visuals Really funny writing Wonderful array of nonsensical jobs Absurd bull-in-a-china-shop moments Some of the 6 hour story beats are downright bizarre CONS Some overly long exposure moments Occasional controller tracking issues A handful of nauseating moments that can add up
Ron Burke is the Editor-in-Chief of Gaming Trend. Currently residing in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth-degree black belt with a Master rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his quest to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor Laura Burke for 21 years. They have three dogs – Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie and Pitbull mixes).
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