Many times in gaming, pushing a ball through an obstacle ridden course has been done over countless times. Marble Madness on the original NES possibly started the trend with its tough, but immensely addicting gameplay. Super Monkey Ball came much later, but further rejuvenated the genre and a few other marble-rolling titles in VR have certainly been a sign that this type of gameplay experience isn’t dying off soon. The newest entry in this genre from developer Rebellion, Arca’s Path, is clearly inspired by this gameplay, hoping to translate it over successfully into VR.
Arca’s Path does not require the use of a controller and instead relies on the headset’s tracking to move a cursor around the screen in the direction you want your ball to roll. It works perfectly, but in a VR title I would like to be able to look around and enjoy my surroundings. Unfortunately, instead you have to keep your head steady and focus on where you’re going, meaning outside of pausing the game to use free look it’s not something you’re able to do.
Along the way you’ll hit switches and push blocks, but the ultimate goal remains the same: get to the end of the level. Collecting all the crystals in a level unlocks a time challenge mode which is the exact same level, but with a timer counting down the seconds. One major gripe I had was that by the end of the first few levels, you’ve basically seen everything the game has in store for you. The environments don’t change much, the difficulty barely increases, and the bare bones story told through static images was inconsequential to my experience.
I’d be fine with the repetitive nature of your tasks if Arca’s Path was fun to play, but unfortunately it just isn’t. It lacks the excitement of Monkey Ball, and the addictiveness plus challenge of Marble Madness. The music and sound effects didn’t help the cause either, with them becoming grating mainly from the constant humming of outside noises in the environment. Like any platformer, the stage themes did change a little bit over the course of the campaign, but never really looked too different from one another with the biggest difference being the color palette used.
From a technical standpoint, Arca’s Path is a solid title with no bugs or design issues. It also controls exactly as intended, but with the empty worlds, overly easy difficulty, and stagnant gameplay, it’s a game that forgets to be fun, exciting, or challenging. Every level almost felt exactly the same so I never had the drive to push forward other than to finish this game for review. There’s not much done wrong in Arca’s Path, it just comes down to being too predictable and boring.
Overall, Arca’s Path is a casual ball-rolling puzzle title that is best played by casual VR gamers. As a game in which the entire control scheme revolves around moving an object in the direction you’re looking, Arca’s Path just doesn’t do enough to innovate in the VR medium. As such, this could be a nice and relaxing VR title for some, but I fear many will find it boring and lacking. I did find some of the downhill sections and jump portions fun, and at times challenging, but unfortunately those moments were few and far between and simply not enough to hold my interest beyond a handful of levels.