Umurangi Generation Feels More Poignant in VR
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Umurangi Generation Feels More Poignant in VR

When we get a traditional game being prepared for a VR adaptation, I always wonder if it is the right decision. Would it work in VR? Does it need to make that leap? Umurangi Generation is a captivating experience about gradually getting involved in a country and its situation, which means Umurangi Generation VR on the Meta Quest headsets feels like a greater opportunity to witness life in this version of Tauranga Aotearoa. 

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You’re a photographer for Tauranga Express. Rather than delivering packages, you take pictures of certain situations for the company. New Zealand, and the world, is going through some things while you do. As a result, your assignments and purpose gradually change. While initial stages might feel like you’re gathering photos for perhaps promotional materials or to accompany more lighthearted scenes, you’ll gradually reach a point where who you are and what you are doing may feel like it carries a greater weight.

This means that Umurangi Generation VR handled storytelling and exploration in a very immersive way. You aren’t talking with certain figures to learn about tasks. Nobody is holding your hands on your assignments. You happen to live in a world that is gradually going to hell, and your role in chronicling that changes the longer you play. It’s a brilliant way of handling things. You’re left to your own conclusions and devices. As a result, I felt like I was able to judge what was going on, have my own feelings about them, and really live through the experience.

Of course, the way Umurangi Generation VR plays is also part of the reason why this photography sim feels so at home on the Meta Quest line of headsets. I appreciated how many of the actual actions in the game are tied to the same motions you’d make in real life. Lifting the camera to your face, for example. Checking things on lists. Spray painting to leave your mark on the world. There are some very common sense motions here, with help with the immersion.

I was also a little concerned when I came to the VR adaptation, since some light platforming is required to reach certain objectives in the original Umurangi Generation. While there were some bounties in certain stages that felt more challenging in the VR version, with that starting in Stage 5, it generally works pretty well. I was especially impressed that I never felt motion sick while going through areas as well.

While Umurangi Generation VR is good about handling the VR experience, there is some awkwardness involved. I found it impossible to take screenshots on a Meta Quest 3, which is sad considering it is a photography game. Some of the controls aren’t as intuitive as you may expect. Taking a photo is incredibly easy. Others really require you to learn how to play, and the tutorial should really be mandatory instead of optional. 

There were a handful of odd situations in which Umurangi Generation VR didn’t register I’d gotten the shot correctly. This required me to repeatedly rearrange and attempt to get the image for the quest. It happened in one stage involving feathers. In another it wouldn’t recognize the word “mix” on a tape. Given some stages only have one instance of a particular request occurring, it was a little frustrating. Especially since I didn’t encounter those sorts of issues in the original release.

Umurangi Generation is a game that was never subtle about its message and always conveyed information via the experience well, but playing it in VR on a Meta Quest 3 makes everything more effective. Firsthand exploring the world and encountering both its beauty and horrors is incredible. Especially since the transition from the original game to VR worked so well and came without downsides like motion sickness. I loved the approach and feel like it’s a necessary Meta Quest experience.

Umurangi Generation VR is available on the Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro and PlayStation VR 2 headsets

Umurangi Generation VR

Umurangi Generation is a creative sandbox photography simulator set in Tauranga Aotearoa, where you are an avid photographer working as a courier for the Tauranga Express. Document the world, its bleak state, and its residents through the lenses of your camera. Meta Quest 3 version reviewed. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes.

Umurangi Generation was never subtle about its message and conveyed information well, but playing it in VR on a Meta Quest 3 makes it more effective.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.