The Climb 2 VR Game Review – Terrifyingly Awesome Cliffhanger From Crytek

There’s no doubt Oculus has high hopes for The Climb 2. One of only six titles to earn a hallowed spot on the retail box for the Quest 2 at launch, it was one of the big three announced as being exclusive to the Oculus Quest platform. I already reviewed the other two in recent months. Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge and Jurassic World: Aftermath were both competent games and enjoyable to play, but they were fairly short, and consequently felt a bit more like glorified tech demos rather than full-fledged games.

The Climb 2’s tardy arrival, coming some five months after the release of the Quest 2 headset itself means developer Crytek lose some points for punctuality. Thankfully the final product is more than worth the wait. The game is epic.

 Familiar Places

The original Climb was a very popular and successful title, and Crytek has sensibly decided not to mess too much with its underlying mechanics. If you’ve played the first game, you’ll be instantly at home here. That said there is a welcome improvement to chalking, you can now simply twist your wrist to add chalk to your hands rather than having to perform those sexually suggestive vigorous handshakes that felt awkward to carry out with other people in the room.

The previous world zones are back here too, with the game comprising three levels each within the Bay, Alps, Canyon, and North environments. Previously, the North world zone only featured on the PCVR version so it’s great to get to enjoy the cold, frozen Arctic wilderness on the Quest now as well.

The frozen North levels weren’t included in the Quest port of the original game, so having three new levels in this bleakest and moody of environments is a real boon for The Climb 2.

Like the original, The Climb 2 also features a plethora of unlockable content, your reward for successful climbs and achievements. Complete climbs and gain experience and you’ll be able to unlock new pairs of gloves, watches, and wristbands. This allows you to personalize your avatar to a degree and with your hands being the only part of your body that you can see in-game, you’ll be staring at them a lot.

Because of this familiarity, the game could end up feeling more like an expansion pack than a true sequel. Thankfully though, whilst the new game borrows heavily from its predecessor, it adds a whole lot of new content besides, ensuring this latest version is bigger, badder, and far bolder than before.

More Treacherous Worlds

You see, whilst the game utilizes the same world locations as previously, the all-new climbs themselves feel far more challenging. There are more crumbling handholds that collapse when you grab them, lengths of swaying ropes to climb, ladders that unfurl, swinging you towards the rock face, and zip wires which you speedily whizz down whilst gleefully shouting ‘Wahoo!’.

There’s also a lot more jumping from grip to grip than ever before. In this sequel, you are most definitely not Alex Honnold, with his cautious, methodical, precision-based style. No, you are Sly Stallone in Cliff Hanger, defying the laws of gravity and leaping vertically up sheer cliff walls in just a t-shirt and shorts, probably.

For me, the jumps are double-edged.  Leaping into the void, desperately grasping the rock face across from you, and barely making it with your fingertips is both exhilarating and enjoyable. But it’s exhilarating in the same way as emerging completely unscathed from a horrific car wreck would be. I mean sure, you feel great afterward, but you most definitely would not willingly choose to put yourself through it, and in The Climb 2, you will need to summon the will again, and again, and again.

If you’re an acrophobe like me, you will quickly discover that courage and nerves, much like willpower, have a finite supply. I was exhausted after thirty minutes and just found it mentally draining to keep going. Make no mistake, I absolutely loved the game, but I found it uncomfortable to complete more than a single climb at a time, making the required thirty minutes playtest a form of entertainment through torture. I feel I earned my money writing this review!

The City

As stated above as much as I loved revisiting the previous world zones, their similarity to the original game gives the feeling of an expansion pack rather than a true sequel. This is not a criticism, the previous environments are ideal locations for climbs, and every world feels distinctive and unique. But the undoubted highlight of the Climb 2 is the new City environment, where rock faces are replaced with vertical concrete walls, scaffolds, and girders abound, and where I really yearned for a hard hat and a harness.

 

Related: Best Oculus Quest 2 VR Fitness Games for Exercise & Workouts

 

Where the other worlds are beautiful but challenging, the City feels oppressively monolithic and terrifyingly dangerous. Just riding a construction elevator up several floors of a skyscraper had my knees buckling underneath me, I was as scared to look up as I was down. The team at Crytek has been really creative with this world. Having moving robotic window cleaners as grips is a fantastic idea, your bodyweight quickly causing them to slide off the panes of glass, sending you plummeting to a splattery death below. Then there are giant revolving advertising boards, with grips on only one side of the advertisements, forcing you to be quick. Worst of all, there are times you need to leap off the building you’re on and hope you can grasp hold of those metal girders across from you, whilst they swing precariously suspended by ropes. The first time I completed the City Easy level it took me fifteen minutes and felt like an eternity.

You can see my playthrough below!

Preparation

With our game overview out of the way, it’s time to get to the playtest. For this, I used my now ancient, but still reliable Fitbit Charge 2. For extra realism and immersion, I put on some gym training gloves and of course, I cleared my playspace. The Climb is an unusual game in that it doesn’t demand much floor space at all, you’re mostly standing in one spot, but you will need to ensure there is nothing above you. This game hates low ceilings, chandeliers, fans, and light shades so do be mindful of that when you reach up!

Intensity 7/10

  • Calories burned: 126
  • Calories per minute: 4
  • Average heart rate: 124
  • Max heart rate: 139
  • Steps:822
  • Active Minutes: 17 Mins Cardio 13 Mins Fat Burn

Like The Climb before it, The Climb 2 is moderately intense when it comes to activity. My average heart rate was slightly higher than when reviewing the original game (124 vs 117), but this might have been to do with how much scarier I found it. Despite the game not requiring as much physically as say Beat Saber or FitXR, I nonetheless found I was sweating profusely by the end. This even included my palms, which never sweat. In fact, until I played The Climb, I didn’t know that my ordinarily permanently ice-cold hands could even sweat!

Arms 8/10

This game requires you to hold your hands above your head at all times. Your head, although not visually depicted is tracked in the game, and if you try and cheat by pulling your hands down, and lifting your head up into the rock wall above, the game will not allow it, turning the screen black until you lower your head by raising your arms up again. This feature was present in the original game, and I saw some inexplicable complaints from some users. But the feature is necessary to preserve both the realism of you having a physical body and of course, makes the game far more physically challenging. Make no mistake, after twenty minutes or so your arms and shoulders will burn. The feeling mirrors that of hanging up clothes or stocking the top shelf cupboard with tins of food and therefore has some direct practical real-world applications. Maybe not too challenging for young pups, but when you’re middle-aged and mostly sedentary, this game will help you fight sarcopenia and help you better carry out daily tasks.

Legs 3/10

This is a game to be played standing, but that’s as far it goes in terms of leg training. Whilst it’s a great upper body exerciser you will want to supplement your Climb workouts with some leg squats in FitXR or fight through a few enemy waves on Holopoint.

Core and Balance 7/10

The Climb will certainly get you stretching and reaching, and you’ll often need to turn and twist your body to rappel down a rope or use a ladder as monkey bars. You can choose to engage your core more fully and work on your balance by being more ambitious with your grip selection. Reach for the farthest away grips and take the most challenging routes.

Time Perception 7/10

This game is very playable and visually breathtaking for a mobile game. It’s certainly fun and engaging at all times, requiring your intense focus as you navigate your way upwards to your destination and reward. However, the feeling of vertigo is very real, and unless you have nerves of steel or no fear of heights at all it will likely be draining to play. 15 minutes of this feels like an hour of Beat Saber and I’m usually incredibly relieved to get to the top. I can’t see myself being able to play this for long periods.

Replayability 9/10

The game’s 15 main levels would probably take about 3 hours or so to get through. However, completing a level is only the beginning. There are multiple routes, and high scores to obtain. If you enjoy the mechanics you’ll want to perfect your climbs, and get faster. The game is replayable in the same way Thrill of the Fight or Eleven Table Tennis are replayable. You will likely enjoy climbing your favorite routes over and over again, and it will always be a fun game to come back to. There’s also a host of unlockables and achievements and it will take many hours to get them all.

Fitness Scalability 7/10

The game has both a casual and professional mode. Casual greatly reduces the game difficulty by removing the stamina bar, meaning you can take your time and just focus on making your way around at your own pace. Professional play means your hands will tire, requiring you to either chalk your hands at regular intervals or make use of advanced fingertip grip techniques that are very difficult to master. You can also play the game bouldering style, throwing yourself up rock faces as fast as you can. That being said, the fact that your legs are stationary prevents you from activating your major muscle group, and consequently, it will never be as demanding a game as Holopoint, Thrill of the Fight, or Beat Saber.

Lack of Nausea 7/10

Generally, when we talk of nausea we are talking about locomotion sickness. The locomotion system in The Climb 2 is ingenious. The movement problem is solved as you yourself move the world with your hands. It feels very natural and shouldn’t cause motion sickness in any but the most susceptible players.

There is one massive caveat to this, of course, that being the game design. The intentional purpose of Climb 2 is to place you in an intensely uncomfortable experience, where you must overcome your fears to proceed. There will be gamers who just cannot play this, due to their inability to overcome their fear of heights. Make no mistake, like the best rollercoasters this is a very intense experience, enjoyable for many, but not for everyone.

Below is a playthrough of the medium Bay level. It looks outrageously good visually for a mobile VR game!

Social Competition 8/10

Whilst there is no direct PVP The Climb 2 is nonetheless a competitive game. Global leaderboards exist for each level and then there’s ghost mode, which allows you to race against the best times of your friends, you’ll see their hands on the wall with you. A live player versus player would be great fun, maybe they can add that later. It’s also worth noting that this is, without a doubt, one of the best showcase games to stick your friends and family in when they try out your Quest. Watching people’s terrified reactions is hilarious.

VRFI Fit Score 7.5
VRFI Game Score: 9

In a certain sense, Crytek has played it safe with The Climb 2, sticking closely to the original formula that made the first game such a hit rather than trying to do anything drastically new. This does mean that if you disliked the original game you won’t find anything here to win you over, but if, like me, you thought the predecessor was awesome, you will likely be delighted with what’s on offer here. More levels, a fantastic new world zone, and much more dynamic environments with ropes, zip wires, escalators, and more.

Unlike other Quest exclusives, there’s a ton of content here and you really do get good value for your money. This isn’t just a mini-adventure for the weekend like Jurassic World: Aftermath but will instead be a game you’ll be want to return to again and again.

The Crytek developers have worked wonders in bringing a game of such visual fidelity and high production values to the mobile Quest. It looks breathtakingly beautiful at times and it’s hard to believe I’m playing this on a $299 budget standalone VR headset.

Currently, there is no word on a PCVR version which is a real shame as I would love to play this on a high-end desktop computer. If Crytek can make the Quest 2 look this good, imagine what they could do with the power of an RTX 3080 or 3090!

Note, I played the game on Quest 2, where it runs exceptionally smoothly. I haven’t tested in on the original Quest, so can’t speak for the performance on that headset.

The Good

Intense, heart-stopping action, make this one hell of a thrill ride, even more so if you’re afraid of heights!

Stunning visuals make this a standout showcase for the Quest platform

15 substantial levels and tons of unlockables and achievements mean that The Climb 2 feels like a full game rather than a tech demo.

I can think of no better game to put friends and family into when they come to visit. This will delight and horrify them in equal measure.

The Bad

Stays very close to the original formula, so might feel a bit samey to those who don’t love the basic mechanics

Whilst it’s a fantastic Quest exclusive, the game is simply too beautiful and technically impressive for there not to be a PCVR version. Please Crytek, give us a Rift Store version!

The Climb 2 is out now exclusively for the Oculus Quest, priced at $29.99 or £22.99. For a limited time only, a Climb 1 and 2 duo pack will be available for $39.99, a saving of $19.99

Addendum

Is the original Climb still worth buying? I thought I should briefly answer this for those who have played neither game. The original Climb features 9 excellent full levels over three-game worlds Bay, Canyon, Alps, with an additional fourth: The North exclusive to PCVR. There are also smaller bouldering levels. These are all unique levels to The Climb, and different from the all-new levels on The Climb 2. Therefore if you enjoy the game mechanics I highly recommend buying both games. It really doesn’t matter which one you start with, as there is no contiguous storyline and the game mechanics are the same in both games. For more information check out my original Climb review.

 


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