Hands-on: The VOID – Jumanji: Reverse the Curse

Virtual reality (VR) can prepare you for many things be it surviving the zombie apocalypse, how to put together an engine, fly a plane or even become an expert bartender. What VR doesn’t prepare you for is your skinny white mate with a ginger beard suddenly changing into action hero and all-round nice guy Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but then what should you expect when playing one of The VOID’s latest VR experiences – Jumanji: Reverse the Curse?

More than any other location-based entertainment (LBE) operator, The VOID specialises in VR tie-in experiences to the biggest IP’s and latest movies. Its roster includes the likes of Ghostbusters: Dimensions, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Ralph Breaks VR, Avengers: Damage Control and now Jumanji: Reverse the Curse – the only other is original IP Nicodemus.

Just like the film it’s based upon, stepping into Jumanji: Reverse the Curse is all about surviving dangerous adversaries, solving puzzles and trying not to get eaten by crocodiles when a teammate is taking too long to cross a river. Oh, and also arriving to find the body you once inhabited is a little different. There’s no character selection so there’s no fighting over who wants to be Jack Black or Karen Gillan.

Which might be a little annoying on subsequent playthroughs but for the first it shouldn’t matter. Each character has their own unique set of abilities which are put to the test at a certain point throughout Jumanji: Reverse the Curse. As Johnson and Gillan both play tough, badass characters they do more of the fighting, whilst Black and Kevin Hart provide support roles ideally suited to the puzzles. Cast in the role of Jack Black’s Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon this meant being able to see clues that weren’t legible to anyone else.

This mechanic makes Jumanji: Reverse the Curse a true team experience as each person has a pivotal role to play to aid in completing the story. On the other hand, you will always need four people to play or it won’t work, so be prepared to partner with strangers if you can’t make the full quota.

As with any experience at The VOID, players are taken around a tightly woven series of rooms to maximise the play area. This also allows for other elements to be introduced such as wind when flying on a balloon controlled by a monkey (spoiler: it crashes). The VOID also likes to introduce other physical elements into its titles. For instance in Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire you can pick up guns while in Jumanji: Reverse the Curse one player can hold a flaming torch to light the way, adding a nice visual touch when walking through dark caverns.

Jumanji: Reverse the Curse isn’t very action-oriented, especially if you play as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar or Oberon. So this does mean a lot of walking and just keeping an eye on your surroundings (several gold coins are littered around) which can get a little dull in comparison to The VOID’s other titles. As for the puzzles, they’re all fairly simple and logical so there’s no worry in getting stuck. Obviously, it’s a delicate balance as The VOID doesn’t want guests spending too long in one area as that will hold up the system, however, having a low difficulty reduces that satisfying feeling upon completion.

There were the three tattooed lives on each character’s arm which meant you could effectively die. The chance of that happening was very low, mostly occurring when someone wasn’t paying attention to their foot placement and fell through a hole, rather actually being killed by a nasty Jumanji creature.

Unlike previous experiences at The VOID where you exit with a big smile and wanting to go again, Jumanji: Reverse the Curse lacked that spark. The only reason to play again would be to try a different character which doesn’t seem worth it. If you’re a diehard fan of the series then you’ll like the various nods to the franchise, for everyone else, this is the weakest title at The VOID, spend your money on any of the others previously mentioned.

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