As an avid sports fan and player, I’ve never had the opportunity to play cricket before. Luckily, ProYuga Advanced Technologies LTD‘s IB Cricket is here to both teach you how to play and give you a hell of a time while figuring it all out. Several titles have attempted to simulate sports experiences to varying levels of success, but rarely do they capture the whole experience. IB Cricket shows up with the most accurate portrayal of cricket yet, with some ambitious ideas and lofty goals that pretty much hit the mark most of the time.
Right off the bat (wow what a pun, go me), we’re given the option to go through the tutorial. For me, it was very much needed as I was completely dumbfounded as to how this game was played. It turns out, it’s fairly straightforward and just wild to see in practice really. You’re taught where to hit the ball on the bat, how to directionally hit the ball and how to identify the myriad of different pitches that are going to come your way. The bowling portion of cricket is sadly left alone here as you’ll be strictly playing as a batter during your time with the game. I’ll be honest, seeing the velocity the ball comes flying at you made me a bit disappointed that the bowling portion of cricket was not included, though IB Cricket is still an Early Access title so it’s very possible that portion of the game is in the works. As it stands though, you’re going to experience what might be the most accurate simulation of a sport in VR yet.
What it feels like to play
It feels like what I imagine Cricket feels like to play. It’s incredibly challenging to get into the box and make contact off the bat. They say the hardest thing to do in sports is hitting a baseball, well, I imagine this is even harder. The ball moves with such velocity that it not only feels like you’re playing Cricket but that you’re actually training for it as well. I know that Cricket balls travel 100 mph plus most of the time, and here that speed is accurately felt when you’re in the box and the variety of different bowlers going against you makes sure you can never have the exact same approach. The challenge is superb though and it was something I could see many players getting hooked on.
What will keep you playing
If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that although you’re doing the same thing over and over, the fun in it all is getting better and better and learning different ways to get better and the same can be said here in IB Cricket. The modes available are numerous and there are challenges to complete, ways to tweak the game to make it tougher on you as well as the option of which type of pitches you want to face. Mix this in with the tournaments, the ability to build up a team with different batters of different strengths, and unlockable real-life stadiums to play in and you have yourself an incredibly impressive amount of content that, while still being called an Early access title, puts most fully released VR titles to shame.
Cricket from the batter’s perspective doesn’t involve a ton of movement. However, you will be swinging for the fences a lot of the time here and that can easily lead to you falling off balance and possibly crashing into things, so it’s very important you have a decent amount of space in your play area as this will help avoid injury.
I recorded my 30-minute workout using a Fitbit and an Oculus Quest 2.
Calories burned: 212
Calories burned per minute: 5
Average Heart Rate: 112
Max Heart Rate: 150
Active Minutes: 23
Although you won’t be sweating and moving around a ton during your gameplay, IB Cricket produces a different type of intensity. To paint the picture, imagine seeing something come at you at 100 mph. I’m not talking about a movie, I’m not talking about being at a game safely in the stands, I’m talking about being in the batter box and having that ball hurled at you over and over at that speed. Yeah, it’s a damn intense experience, but once you get past the overwhelming nature of it, you lock in and jack your intensity level up to match the game and it’s one of the more satisfying VR experiences out there when you put two and two together.
It’s all about your arms here as that is what is going to be holding the bat during gameplay. I found it difficult and awkward feeling to be swinging with just one hand, so as a lifelong baseball and softball player, I added my other hand to create a feeling of normalcy. You actually have to swing pretty hard here if you want to hit a home run, so just flailing about will do little to nothing. Your arms will tire after a while as you’re trying to hit all these difficult pitches, but it’s never too much and as long as you don’t swing too hard, you should get a pretty balanced arm workout here after a while of playing.
Take a look at any player in Baseball or Cricket. Do you see them standing straight-legged in the box ever? I sure don’t, and here there should no difference. Swinging flat foot footed and straight-legged feels awkward and somewhat painful to do, so you absolutely must bend your legs and treat this like you would a real at-bat. Stepping into swings and cultivating your own batting stance too is part of the fun as well. You won’t have any direct leg workout required of the game, but trust me, there’s a reason that players in Cricket don’t take one at-bat after another after another, it gets tiring awfully quick.
Core/ Balance- 9/10
Due to the nature of the sport, your core is going to be constantly involved because, in order to pull off an effective swing, you’re going to have to put your core muscles to work. A generous stretch is recommended before starting because you’re likely not used to using these muscles during VR gameplay. You’ll be violently twisting your hips to turn into pitches and often stretching out over the plate to reach for balls that you can’t quite get to otherwise. Your balance is key here because while holding an actual cricket bat would cause you to feel the weight while you’re swinging and therefore measuring the power of your swing, here, simulating that weight is nearly impossible, you have to estimate and that can cause you to swing yourself off balance quite a bit until you get used to it.
Time Perception- 9/10
As a lifelong Baseball fan, I was thrilled with IB Cricket and honestly absorbed into the atmosphere and world that IB Cricket has brought to life. The different stadiums, the presentation, it’s all wonderful and creates a nice visual aesthetic that does a lot to make you forget about the real world. While you’re playing, there are tons at play to make you think you’re in a real game and whether it’s the fantastic animations in the field or the distinct motions from each bowler, you’re getting the real deal here. This may be an indie game, but it bleeds triple-A goodness from every pore and all other VR sports developers should take note. This is how it’s done.
Fitness Scalability- 8/10
There are tons of options to customize your workout within IB Cricket. You’re able to change the type of pitches and difficulty of pitches you’re facing, which instantly tweaks the workout you’re getting. You can also change the zone of the bat where the ball will make contact off of, causing you to have a much more intense and focused performance which will naturally increase the need for mechanics to be sound and in the process, make your workout tougher. You have the option to change the difficulty from easy all the way up to the hardest modes that turn the realism up significantly and give you a highly accurate feeling of what it’s like the have to face these professional athletes in the sport.
Sports are designed to be played as much as possible in order to master him. That is exactly the case here and with the multiplayer components as well as the ability to face changing pitchers, there is a good amount of replayability to be had here and it’s still in Early Access, so there’s potential to reach even higher heights in the future.
Lack of Nausea- 9/10
As one of the sharpest graphics-wise games in the VR sports world, IB Cricket provides a pretty much perfect experience from the VR sickness perspective. No lag was had on my end and that was via streaming through Virtual Desktop. The only part that may feel overwhelming is having the ball pitched to you at 100 mph at times, though this is a feeling that can shake people in real life too, so there isn’t much difference here in VR.
Social Competition- 8/10
IB Cricket provides one of the better multiplayer experiences in VR sports right now. Not only do you get to see your scores compared to other players, but you also are able to play against others in tournament-style brackets that track your score against the other player’s in real-time. There is no direct 1v1 multiplayer available as of yet as you can’t control the bowler, but it’s possible that might be implemented in the future.
VR Fit Score- 8/10
Game Score- 8/10
IB Cricket is as close to a real Cricket experience that you can get. The presentation is outstanding and it does everything it can to enthrall you in this not talked about enough world. The experience drips authenticity and it’s already been promoted by several of the sports biggest stars as not only a great game, but a great training tool as well. The multiplayer is a great time too and there are constantly players available to play against, so you’re never searching for a game for too long. Tons of unlockable content is available as well too, so there’s plenty of incentives to play the single-player mode as well. The workout here isn’t too intense, but it will teach you discipline at the plate and immensely challenge your concentration. It’s also an Early Access title that has many features in the works, so the final product has yet to be fully realized.
Like other VR Cricket experiences, there seems to be a trend forming with not offering the ability to be a bowler. VR is made to throw things, so it’s a baffling choice to not see an effort here considering most VR baseball experiences have that as a primary feature. Cricket is a slow-paced game, so it’s possible the gameplay loop won’t hook you and if that happens, you will get little out of this experience. There is also no 1v1 multiplayer available yet and while that seems to be the next thing on the docket for this game to implement, I’ve seen it done in far less serious VR sports outings like Sports Scramble so I can’t imagine this isn’t a possible thing to implement in the future.
IB Cricket is available for $29.99 on Steam and playable on Oculus Quest 1 and 2 with Virtual Desktop, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets.