How We Soar is a wonderfully well-crafted virtual reality game that follows the journey of an author, through his struggles of trying to write his first novel. Although he has many ideas, he cannot decide on one over another, and so all of them are compiled together to form the environments of each level in the game.
Although the story is simple, it creates the perfect backdrop for this game to take place in: a pop-up book. You are let loose on a paper bird to glide around and explore the author's different ideas in the form of pop-up books that open into paper model environments – it's all very marvellous in virtual reality.
The entire game is level-based with a total of eleven books to get through; each lasts about twenty minutes and uses a different one of the author's ideas to craft a world to explore. To complete each level, you're required to soar through rings which will then unfold more pages of the book, presenting more of the environment and story to you. Once all of the rings have been flown through, coloured orbs will appear in various locations for you to collect; often they will be in difficult places to fly: under a chair, in among a tree's branches, or on the back of a fish who is swimming around. After every orb of the same colour is collected, a bird of the identical colour is released for you to chase down and catch. This can take quite a bit of time but is rather enjoyable as the birds use the environment and some evasive manoeuvres to try to avoid you. Once caught, this bird will unlock the final piece to the story you are currently in, and also unlock the next book for you to progress.
How We Soar doesn't have the option for move controllers to be used, but this isn't an issue as it's completely playable with the DualShock 4. Your bird is steered using the analogue sticks and sped up or slowed down using the triggers, while you are free to look in any direction with the VR headset to either admire your surroundings or help navigate your way past obstacles. The controls all feel very smooth and responsive, and we were soaring our way gracefully through those rings within a matter of minutes.
The music completes the package here, with its calm and soothing tones that suit your gliding and soaring motions perfectly. It's subtle and gentle but nicely noticeable as a background track to this charming VR experience.
For the majority of the game we didn't feel motion sick or in any discomfort at all, however in a few of the levels we did experience some disorientation, particularly in the ocean and space levels. In the ocean level there is a shipwreck tilted to one side and so when you fly through it, everything is facing the entire wrong direction to what your brain expects it to. The space level is another area where we felt particularly disoriented as there are a lot of spinning meteors and planets orbiting each other, and you can easily get turned around and lose your sense of direction.
Some minor iffy moments aside, How We Soar is a beautifully relaxing game, with tight presentation and some sound controls. A lovely concept that's really well executed, this is another wonderful example of why virtual reality gaming represents the way forward, and you should certainly check it out if you haven't done so already.