The Samsung Gear VR, the first available consumer-level virtual reality headset on the market (powered by your Samsung Android smartphone) already has a ton of games available for download. Ranging from free and simple game concepts to fully-developed multi-hour affairs, there is a staggering amount of variety for a platform that’s only been on the market for just a couple of months.
With that breadth and variety comes an important question: which games are the absolute best and which ones can I skip? Pretty much everything is worth trying – especially if it’s free – but not everything is worth paying for or keeping installed. It’s also worth pointing out that there are lots of videos, passive experiences, and other apps for the system that are not games. Many of those are amazing in their own right, but they’re excluded from this list, because, well… they’re not games!
So, what are the absolute best, must-play, Gear VR games available right now?
It’s a simple concept. You’re continuously moving down a single corridor. All you can do is look around the environment and tap the side of the Gear VR to shoot balls at crystals and other objects. That’s it. But what the game lacks in depth and diversity it makes up for in breadth and pure, visceral fun. Most games on VR platforms force you to wrestle with their controls until you really get a hang of what’s going on, but with Smash Hit, it’s immediately intuitive and immensely satisfying. Plus, it’s free! This is the first game I have anyone try after they’ve watched a few introductory videos.
That being said, if the person I’m dealing with isn’t a traditional gamer but they still want to experience something a bit more interactive than just a video, then I let them try out Ocean Rift. There aren’t any points to acquire or anything like that, it’s just a simple, relaxing, scuba-diving simulator. From the main menu you have a whole host of different aquatic creatures that you can interact with, including dolphins, sharks, turtles, and more. And oddly enough, one of the most noteworthy parts of this app is the sound design, as the sense of immersion is cranked up a notch when you hear the movement of the water around you and the bursting of bubbles. Regardless of a person’s comfort or skill level with VR or gaming, they can absolutely appreciate the wonder of Ocean Rift.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
The great thing about Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is that it requires absolutely no prior knowledge to be immediately fun. The game works by having one player wear the Gear VR headset while everyone else pulls up the bomb manual on their phone, tablet, or physically after printing it out. Everyone reading the manual has to guide the person wearing the headset as they describe what they see (no one else can see the bomb) and what results can often be described as nothing more than utter chaos. Frantic and fun, sure, but utter chaos nevertheless. This one is always a great time at parties and family gatherings.
Anshar Wars 2
When you think of VR, you think of something akin to a scifi movie most of the time. To that end, Anshar Wars 2 is great because it fits with the image you have in your mind of virtual reality being some type of futuristic technology, as this space-combat game is absolutely exhilarating. It’s one of the most intense games available right now on the Gear VR and feels the most like a “hardcore gamer” experience. You’re able to quickly spin around and target enemies while playing and the action is absolutely engaging. The wonderful visuals and crisp framerate don’t hurt either.
But not every game on the Gear VR marketplace is all about action. There’s a hefty dose of wonderful first-person puzzle adventures, and Esper 2 is one of the absolute best. No gamepad is required, but don’t let that fool you: Esper 2 isn’t an easy game. Some of the puzzles are pretty mind-boggling, but that just makes them all the more satisfying once you finally solve them. Esper 2 is one of the most polished and engaging games available on the Gear VR – everyone should give it a try.
If you enjoy puzzle games like Esper 2, then Dead Secret may be up your alley as well. While not exactly the same, it takes a similar approach towards providing a first-person adventure game presentation to puzzle-solving. However, in Dead Secret, you’ll spend your time uncovering mysteries and solving the murder of a certain individual. It takes the premise I’ve laid out and adds on hefty layers of creepy atmosphere to really lay the foundation for an unforgettable experience.
When VR first started making headlines a year or two ago, I always remember seeing the videos of people playing horror games in VR and I knew that was the genre that had the most potential for my tastes. Nothing is more frightening than when you are fully immersed in a great horror game and fall for that perfectly timed scare. With VR, it makes it all the more powerful and startling. I haven’t freaked out so much that I had to rip the helmet off in terror, but I’ve gotten close. Definitely play this one with the lights off.
Omega Agent, along with Smash Hit and Anshar Wars 2, is one of the most pure-fun games on this list. It’s a simple concept with simple and stylized visuals, but it’s so much fun that I didn’t even care about what it was lacking. You’re a secret agent flying around an island at break-neck speeds. The exhilaration from barreling towards a building and swerving or turning at the last second through a window and bursting across the other side is indescribably exciting. This one just has to be experienced to truly be appreciated.
Land’s End is one of the most unique games on this list. It comes from the creators of the popular Monument Valley, as you can immediately tell from the visual style, but offers a completely different experience. In Land’s End, you don’t even need to touch the Gear VR’s touchpad unless you want to navigate a menu. Everything is accomplished simply by looking around your environment making it one of the most intuitive and simple games, but also one of the most inventive and engaging. It’s an abstract puzzle game that doesn’t offer a whole lot of depth or length, but it’s a great showpiece for how immersive VR can be as a platform when done correctly.
This last game, DRIFT, is one of the most recent available on the Gear VR store. The visuals are immediately striking and appealing to the eye and they’ve done a wonderful job of melding the themes and contrasting colors together effortlessly. In DRIFT, you actually use your head to guide bullets through the air. That’s right – the bullets fired from guns are controlled by you and your movement. I wouldn’t recommend a beginner to jump into something like this, but if you’re comfortable in VR and can think quickly, then DRIFT is an awesome game.