A month after the release of PS VR2, I finally got around to checking out What the Bat?, one of the launch titles for PlayStation’s shiny new VR system. What took me so long? Well, for a time I was unable to play the game, due to the fact that at launch, What the Bat? required room-scale VR, which I was not prepared for. The two sofas that line the sides of my living room immediately disqualified me from playing; the game wouldn’t even boot up before rejecting me.
I’m not mad at the game; developers Triband recognized the issue and got to work on a patch for PS VR2 players like me, who are trapped in the middle of a smaller room. When I did sit down to play What the Bat?, I was able to get through the entire thing comfortably seated; it seems that the patch was very successful indeed.
What the Bat? is a small but mighty VR title that strips VR gaming right down to its core. Don’t come to What the Bat? expecting a baseball game. This is far weirder than that. Players enter the game as a small child with baseball bats for hands, and then progress through a series of over 100 short levels, which more or less walk the player through the highlights of living an entire life with wooden clubs instead of fingers.
When I say “short levels”, I mean short. Some of the levels in What the Bat? took me less than five seconds; the longest took me probably a minute and a half. What the Bat? piles minigame on top of minigame in rapid succession, running the player through a series of small puzzles and scenarios so quickly that you feel like you blink and you’re on to the next one.
The games’ loop is simple: the scene comes into focus, the player realizes what the game expects them to do, and then does it. Once the task is complete, a buzzer goes off, confetti flies all over the place, and the room goes dark. Off to the next challenge. The fun in the game is figuring out what the hook of each puzzle is, and then laughing at the ridiculous creativity on display.
The game starts simply, with the player performing little tasks that a baby might enjoy. As the character ages, things get a little more complex, but never so much that you get stuck for more than a few seconds. The player is accompanied in each scene by an elephant, who is always lurking nearby, watching the goings on from behind a tree, or through a window. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the vibe What the Bat? is putting down. I rather enjoyed the way the elephant grew along with the bat-hands character; I particularly enjoyed their shared teen rebellion years.
What the Bat? makes good use of the PS VR2’s haptic systems, buzzing you appropriately whenever you hit something with your bat-hands. It’s funny that it’s so good, because that’s about all the game does with PS VR 2’s advanced systems. You don’t use any of the buttons on the controllers, you don’t use the analog sticks for anything except turning (which you really don’t need to do very much), and the 3D audio is only used to deliver some fairly righteous jams to your ears. This isn’t a game that ignores the advanced tech of PS VR2; this is a game that simply didn’t need it. All you need to do is hold the controller in your hands and you are good.
Longtime VR fans and people that are looking for deep, detailed experiences might want to look elsewhere; this isn’t exactly the tech demo that will show off your new system and push the envelope. What the Bat? is a simple, fun game that would be great for VR noobs and those looking to giggle at some videogame goofiness. Think of Job Simulator, and then simplify the mechanics exponentially. That said, I’ve spent hours on end in VR, and I still had a pretty good time with What the Bat?. What it lacks in high-end graphics and mechanics, it makes up for with an endless barrage of creative ideas and good humor.
There’s no getting around that What the Bat? is a silly game; you’ve got bats for hands, for goodness sakes. But it was clearly made with a solid mix of cleverness and love, and those that are willing to just be a kid and goof around with it will likely have a blast.
What the Bat? isn’t going to set the VR world on fire with it’s ground-breaking use of VR tech, but it is going to make VR fans looking for a simple, fun game smile and laugh for a few hours. With a barrage of minigames and weirdo mechanics, this game radiates creativity and fun. Just, uh, don’t expect any baseball.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile