I’ve spent the past week playing almost nothing but PlayStation VR, and through it all my mind keeps wandering back to one specific launch title – Headmaster. It’s as simple as heading soccer balls into various targets to gain a high score and passing exams that’ll ultimately lead to your graduation from the Football Improvement Centre.
What sticks out to me, and what differs from games like Waddle Home or Wayward Sky, is that Headmaster doesn’t just introduce a simple concept and continue to play it safe. Instead, we’re presented with forty trials that expand upon a rather simple concept in a lot of really interesting ways. There’s bowling, explosives, carnival style attractions, crash test dummies, and dozens of other unexpected items that’ll turn up throughout your stay at the FIC. The act of heading soccer balls never gets old because there’s always something new – or something totally crazy – that’s waiting in the next trial. This is especially clear in the exams, which are far more elaborate trials that’ll test everything you’ve learned up to this point, while also presenting crazier scenarios if you perform well enough.
Your progression through Headmaster is accompanied with a narrative that’s dripping with Portal influence. Each trial opens with some quick words from the Football Improvement Centre’s Headmaster and wraps up with a hastily written note from Carl, the staff member in charge with designing and setting up every trial and exam. The FIC’s Headmaster certainly shares a bit in common with GlaDOS, but in this case I’d say the game provides a character that’s a little less condescending and far more willing to offer words of encouragement. Between random monologues over the intercom and handwritten messages from Carl, the writing in Headmaster is funny and actually manages to set up a pretty interesting rift between the two FIC staff members. It works well with the general tone of the game and helps to make Headmaster so much more than just an interesting concept for VR head tracking.
No controllers are required to play Headmaster and the game works pretty well whether you’re sitting down or standing up; it’s also perfectly suited for open areas or small spaces. Heading soccer balls doesn’t require too much forward motion and is focused on how you angle your head when making contact. It just works, and it’s a simple enough concept that it should be pretty easy to jump in without much of a learning curve. That said, some of the later challenges do require a certain level of finesse that can make some trials difficult if you’re not using the correct technique. Headmaster does outline the proper head-motion, but I think a proper tutorial for angling shots (both far to the side and high in the air) could help to alleviate some of the difficulty I ran into.
Headmaster is so much more than what it might appear to be, and it’s one of the biggest surprises for me coming out of the PlayStation VR’s launch. It’s creative, funny, and provides a perfect example of what VR could bring to the table, while also being far more than just a VR tech demo.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Easy to understand concept that's taken in some very creative directions
- Story is well written and consistently funny
- The better you do on an Exam the crazier they get
What I Dislike:
- Exam 4 nearly killed me
- I'd like to see an in-depth explanation of heading techniques. I think this would help with some of the tougher lessons you'll come across later in the game.