Review – Budget Cuts (PSVR)
When Budget Cuts first released on Steam it got very high praise with some outlets proclaiming it’s the future of VR right now. Unfortunately, at the time I did not have a PCVR headset so I missed out on its release, but luckily it now has been release for the PSVR. Is Budget Cuts still the future of VR? Does it hold up to the large leaps in VR quality we have seen within the last couple years like Half-Life: Alyx?
In Budget Cuts you play as one of the few human employees at TransCorp, a mega conglomerate ran mostly by robots. Your job is to stamp papers, file files, and reject requests asked by fellow employees. Unfortunately for you, your job is on the chopping block and you’re about to find out what happens to fired human employees. Luckily, you get a mysterious phone call from someone looking to help you escape. Clues and instructions are provided via a fax machine to help you escape. However, things at TransCorp are a bit more sinister than you thought.
Provided with a teleportation gun, you’ll need to use stealth and wits to figure out how to escape your job. Upon entering a new level you’ll get a number sent to your pager. This means your mysterious helper needs to speak to you and offer the objective for the current level. Find a fax machine, dial the number, and you’ll be provided the objective and usually a couple of clues. The level designs are really well done as they offer plenty of paths and options to achieve your goals. Obviously some objectives will be linear since you’ll need to find specific codes or key cards, but the paths you take to obtain said objects are up to you.
For the most part you’ll use stealth and actively avoid the robot guards that will shoot you on sight. However, you do have the ability to fight back with throwable weapons. These can either be the throwing knives (or “letter openers”), scissors, or gem shards. You can only hold so many objects at a time so you’ll need to make a decision to bulk up on weapons or carry around clue items.
The difficulty ranges between levels, but it never felt too difficult. Puzzles are fairly straight forward and it was always easy enough to bait the robot guards. Although, I found it too easy to simply take out all the guards and then figure out where to go. Obviously this was the path I went, but if you want to be a pacifist and sneak around only with no killing, you can absolutely do that. There is one part in the game that doesn’t allow you to kill a robot, and I’m being vague for a reason. You had to use the environments and various paths to outsmart and outmaneuver him. I wish Budget Cuts offered more of these type of intense and almost creepy moments.
There was a few things that kept me from really likely the gameplay and it has to do with the accessibility and some bugs. There is no control options for walking or even turning. You only have the option to use the teleportation gun to move around the world which made small adjustments a bit annoying. There are also no options for rotating or any motion sickness options, you’re locked into incremental turns. You also don’t have any option to toggle crouch if getting down to peek through vents is too tough for you.
I also had quite a few bugs and glitches when it came to various objects and even the robot guards. There would be times where items and guards would simply disappear. I’d bait them over to kill and they would just pop out of existence. This also meant that any knives I had stuck into them also disappeared. Nothing was game breaking, but it was jarring within such a short game.
Budget Cuts visuals have a very clean and simplistic look. While it doesn’t have much texture work, it doesn’t mean it isn’t well detailed. Due to hardware limitations there are areas obviously low resolution, but for the most part its visuals are pleasing. Largely thanks to its bold and vibrant color designs within the levels. With the clinically sterile look, there is something oddly pleasing about the dark black spurts of oil that paints the levels when you hit a robot with your knife. Then again, maybe I’m just a sicko.
The sound design is pretty tame as far as the general sound effects go. You’ll have ambient office sounds going around, voices over a PA system, fax machines ringing. It’s all serviceable, but nothing that stands out. That kind of goes for the soundtrack as well. It has a bit of a light jazzy sound to it with even notes of some James Bond themes when you’re sneaking and solving puzzles. However, for the most part it is just ambient background music. There isn’t much voice acting besides from the mysterious stranger and the random robot co-workers when they great you or wondering why you’re killing them. There is some humor in here even if it’s a bit dark.
Budget Cuts does a good job keeping you intrigued throughout its very short run time. There is definitely a fun gameplay hook of sneaking through offices and solving puzzles. Unfortunately, the adversaries are easily fooled and puzzles are a bit too simple. I wish there were more areas that are similar to the final moments of the game that had me really puzzled. There are some accessibility and bug problems as well that hold it back. Also, there is a more combat focused arcade mode that you can tackle after the short campaign.
Visually, Budget Cuts has a clean look with minimal textures and a bold color pallet. This is a company ran by robots so it makes sense that things look pristine.
There is an unfortunate lack of gameplay options when it comes to your controls and movements. While the level design is well done offering plenty of options to complete an objective, it’s simply too easy to outsmart the AI in most cases.
Soundtrack features a classical spy theme that invokes some James Bond feels while you’re sneaking around. While this works well, it’s very subtle and mostly forgettable. This goes for majority of the general sound design as well.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Level design and stealth are well done, however, easy puzzles, easily fooled AI, bugs, and a very short run time that ends in a cliffhanger hurts the overall experience. Lack of accessibility options can be a nuisance for some players.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Budget Cuts is available now on PSVR, Valve Index, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Reviewed on PSVR with a PS4 Pro.
A copy of Budget Cuts was provided by the publisher.