Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality Review
When advancements in science and technology meet various versions of Earth’s most dysfunctional family through the infinite multiverse, a lot can happen. Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality leans into the cartoon’s penchant for social and philosophical commentary, but for all the possibilities the show provides, its VR counterpart feels a bit shallow by comparison.
You’re not on the couch watching the show anymore; you’re in the garage tinkering with shit. You play as a Morty clone, and Rick does not let you forget that. You are a tool. While Rick, Morty, and Summer are off exploring, you’re free to “roam.” With the press of a button, you can teleport to three areas within the garage: in front of the washer and dryer, in the corner with all of Rick’s lab equipment, and in front of a shelf stocked with intriguing items. There’s a spiked mace, a royal crown, some whisper of “Morty” that really kinda creeped me out (a lot) when standing still — the items certainly aren’t endless, but they’re fun.
After you prove to Rick that you can control your body, he directs you to a watch in the garage. Wear that and you’ll automatically call Rick every time you stare at it for a full second or two. Inside the garage, you’ll find a mini-game that makes you…do very science-y things. Pulling levers, turning knobs, pulling things out and plugging them into other things — it’s all there. A machine by the corner will merge two items together into something else entirely. You can even use Rick’s computer to order items online (for science, of course). Over by the shelf lies a portal machine that can be used to generate, you guessed it, a portal, offering an opportunity to leave the garage without going too far. For as promising as these puzzles and segments are, they’re short-lived, and there’s little reason to go back once you’ve gone there for the story. After you beat the game, one of the portals leads you to a shooting gallery-esque challenge so you can attempt to beat your previous high score, but that’s about it. Most of the fun stays in the garage.
Virtual Rick-ality hits a lot of the same beats as the show — a drunk Rick fighting himself, Morty babbling incoherently about whatever worry plagues his mind, Real Fake Doors (there’s really a lot of throwbacks) — but the chemistry between characters is all but gone. In a vacuum, each character has their humorous moment(s). The more the narrative develops, however, the more awkward it begins to seem. Being in the garage and physically stepping through portals somehow feels convincing despite its cartoony graphics, but some of the character models go dead in the eyes and stare at you with lifeless aplomb. Not always, but it happens often. When characters are in motion, it feels accurate to the show, but some of the 3D replication of their 2D animations is still eery enough to take you out of the experience.
Using a box on the shelf will spawn a throwable ball, deploying a modified version of Mr. Meeseeks accurately dubbed “Youseeks.” These Youseeks consist of a floating head and pair of hands that you can throw wherever in order to grab items out of reach. It’s a clever attempt to make up for the lack of mobility in a major way, and it works. Some tasks require you to create a conveyor belt of Youseeks, bringing some cognitive dissonance into play when trying to figure out how to hand yourself an object. Alternatively, you can throw the item with just one Youseeks, but the options are there.
Along the way, you’ll stumble upon Troy, a game that lets you live a life as Troy. You start as a baby and you live your life depending on the choices you make. Troy skips over a lot of years (read: most), but it’ll stop at certain ages to place you in a scenario. These seem to be dictated by the choices you made in the past. The game-within-a-game throws multiple events at you, and what you choose to do (or not do) becomes indicative of how long you’ll live. Living is the ultimate goal, but it’s fun to see how the various permutations of combinations play out. Coming out of Troy and back into the garage, though, I kind of wanted to just stay in Troy, even with its limited amount of play.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality sacrifices the depth of its source content for the illusion of virtual reality. Justin Roiland’s involvement with development is evident from the writing and voice acting, but it merely skims the surface of what makes Rick and Morty Rick and Morty. For all the fun I had in the two or three hours I spent in Rick’s garage, it felt more like I had watched the opening intro sequence instead of an entire episode.
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