Key TakeawaysThe Climb 2 is a fast-paced mountaineering game recently released for the Oculus Quest 2. The game is an exciting mix of a workout, a puzzle to solve, and a kind of meditative movement app. I was surprised at how good a workout the game proved to be. Crytek
Hanging on the side of a skyscraper, I look down in terror. I know I'm going to fall.
Even though I'm playing the new virtual reality game The Climb 2 ($29.99) for the Oculus Quest 2, the view is enough to make my heart pound. That's actually a good thing, because the game is as much of a workout as pure entertainment with all the motions required.
The Climb 2 is not for those afraid of heights. While the graphics aren't super realistic, the fast-paced gameplay is enough to take your breath away, as the levels have you jumping between moving elevators or climbing through mountainous crevasses. The scenery is stunning and enough to keep you distracted from your pounding heart rate.
“I downloaded the game with the expectation of heading for the hills, but in fact, it was the city scenes that I enjoyed most.”
Not So Realistic
I'm a rock scrambler in real life, and I was curious to see how virtual reality could compare with being in the mountains. The answer is not very well if you are looking to replicate any kind of realistic climbing. The only motions are jumping, gripping, and swinging.
The game's premise is easy to understand. I grabbed ledges and other holds and pulled myself up to the next one. Avoiding a fall was a real challenge.
Instead of an avatar, you are presented with two disembodied hands. It's a strange look, but I suppose it's necessary so that you can concentrate on the scenery. Each hand had a certain amount of stamina. To monitor the stamina, you watch gauges on your disembodied wrists. You can run out of energy and fall if you hold on with just one hand.
The Climb 2 offers many different climbing walls through the 15 levels of the game. The levels contain five biomes: Alps, Bay, Canyon, City, and North. Each environment is divided into three levels (easy, medium, hard) and then two modes (casual, standard).
The game is an exciting mix of a workout, a puzzle to solve, and a kind of meditative movement app. At times, I felt like I could leave distractions behind as I focused on the sheer joy of being in the moment in the game.
But the game never was so repetitive as to get boring. Each level boasts a different backdrop and style. In one scene, you might be trying to escape wolves, while in the next, you are scaling an enormous wind turbine. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, admiring the scenery as I tried to overcome the various obstacles the game presented.
I downloaded the game with the expectation of heading for the hills, but it was the city scenes that I enjoyed most. Partly, I think it's because the urban scenery demands less of a suspension of disbelief to believe that you are actually in a city. While playing the mountainous scenes, I constantly was reminded that the mountains just didn't look very realistic.
Exercise While You Climb
I was surprised at how good a workout the game proved to be. With my Apple Watch on, I consistently measured heart rates comparable to those I would get on a light jog, without even having to leave my living room.
What I'd love to see is a game like The Climb 2 paired with exercise equipment to make it even more of a challenging workout. Perhaps one day, a manufacturer will come out with weighted controllers to boost your muscles while you are playing. Even better would be integrating the game with a dedicated workout machine like the VersaClimber.
The Climb 2 shows great promise, but ultimately is held back by the limitations of the Oculus Quest 2. The headset is bulky and tends to slide off during the motions needed for this game. I can't wait until a future version arrives with a sleeker headset and graphics that display videos of real climbs.