Gaming Review: Budget Cuts

Review: Budget Cuts

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Straight Outta Funding

Budget Cuts on the PSVR is the exact definition of a mixed bag. For everything that I came to enjoy, there was at least one thing that became an exercise in frustration. If you’re like me and only pull the headset out every once in a while, this will probably not be the motivation to do so.

The first 10 minutes are extremely reminiscent of the office escape scene from The Matrix. You’re sitting at your computer, locked within your cubicle jail cell when the McGuffin shows up. A small package containing a pager kicks off the story. You’re given the ability to move around with a teleporter/portal gun. It not only allows you to move through the halls of the office building, but up above the ceilings as well. The big bonus here, before making your move through the next portal, you’re able to see your next location through the opening. This allows for an additional dimension of planning that you don’t see very often.

Physically leaning in your chair to see around corners is always a great feeling. Being able to get a good feel for your surroundings is important in a stealth game. Fortunately, Budget Cuts gets that part right.

If you’ve played Job Simulator, you should feel right at home within the first few minutes.

Escape From Cubicle Mountain

Once you leave the main office area you start to run into the security robots…as well as the primary issues that I had with this game. The main issue is the learning curve. I am not the type of gamer that enjoys playing the same areas over and over again until I figure out exactly what the game wants. Especially in VR, I want a smooth experience, not a lesson in trial and error.

Budget Cuts wants you to feel your way through this world and unfortunately the world is cold and unforgiving. You can be killed in one hit and the enemies are a pretty good shot when it matters. Gently peaking around a corner can easily get you spotted. Dashing from spot to spot while being pursued is a pain due to the control scheme. If you’re caught you might as well head on back to the last checkpoint, and the long load times make this so much worse than it should be.

Sharp objects are your only friends here.

Like Die Hard…Without the Gunfire

The only way to survive is to sneak as much as possible. In any area that you can’t sneak, sharp objects are your only saving grace. Unfortunately, completing an accurate throw is more luck than skill. The motion tracking isn’t where it should be, but that’s probably a PSVR issue instead of a Budget Cuts issue. And a few times there were some issues with the physics and object interactions. Overall it compounded the frustration of death and long load times into something I found I had to force myself to play.

One place the controls do excel at is inventory management. After a few minutes of adjustment everything feels just right. Being able to swap any item back and forth between hands is a huge plus. I’ve always found the PlayStation motion controllers to be a bit awkward, but here they felt very smooth and efficient.

Within a few hours I was feeling pretty good. Everything was flowing smoothly and I had finally gotten the feel for the motion. Then it hit me…the game ended and the credits rolled after four short hours. Of course, replaying the game is an option. However, once the learning curve is conquered the challenge is pretty much gone. The enemies walk the same patrol routes. There are no changes to the necessary strategy. In any full length game this wouldn’t be an issue, but with a four hour playtime there’s honestly nothing to go back to.

To the game’s credit, there is an arcade mode that adds in a few new levels. Again, these didn’t last very long and once completed they offer little replayability unless you are just hunting for a high score.

Parting Thoughts

Overall I found myself being more frustrated with the game than actually enjoying it. The issues that are present are found within areas that stand out horribly amongst the average background of the rest of the game. If long load times, trial and error, and a steep learning curve will ruin an experience for you, look somewhere else.

SUMMARY

Budget Cuts is an interesting stealth experience marred by a lack of polish .
+Motion controls and inventory management are simple and effective
+Arcade mode to use once the campaign is over
-Steep learning curve mixed with long load times
-Short playtime
Reviewed on the PSVR/PlayStation Pro. Also available on Windows
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