Social Club VR: Casino Nights Review
By Casey Hawkins
Before I make my move, I take a long draw from my cigar, doing my best to look like I’m in control even though my cards are worthless, but they can’t see my angst behind the headset. Reluctantly, I “check” by making a fist and knocking twice on the table. Maybe, just maybe, I can bluff my way to success this round. The river is revealed, and I’ve got nothing. Fuming, I grab a nearby beer bottle and smash it into bits, likely endangering the lives of my fellow virtual avatars around me, and storm off to de-stress by pounding the keys on the conveniently placed piano across the room. This is Social Club VR: Casino Nights at its best: An authentic simulation of all the highs and lows that can happen on a night out at the casino, except here, you won’t be left penniless in the end if you fail.Social Club VR: Casino Nights is Perilous Orbit’s follow-up to the successful Sports Bar VR, which came out in 2016. All of the casino classics you know and love are here, including Blackjack, Texas Hold’em, and Roulette, and there is even Chess, Backgammon, or a shooting gallery for more casual players. Although not available for testing in the review copy we received, there will be access to more areas like a spa and a gym when the game releases.
Playing each of the casino games in VR works well, as the gameplay is as simple as picking up chips or rolling the dice, which are done easily with the HTC Vive controller I tested the game with. The AI seems competent and challenging for those who prefer to play alone, although there are a slew of options available for multiplayer including a leaderboard to track your winnings among your friends. There are also options to purchase interactive items such as beer cans to do with whatever you can imagine within the realm of VR as well as accessories for your personal avatar, which takes the form of a floating VR headset that other players will see when you are in the same space. The avatars are charming, but I would have preferred more realistic, human characters to add to the immersion of being in an actual casino. I fantasize about decking myself out with an expensive pinstripe suit and a bowler hat, intimidating all of my challengers, and it would have been cool to immediately recognize the high rollers based on their outfits. These characters would have also tied in well with the luxurious casino atmosphere that Perilous Orbit has done so well in capturing.
Seeing as the casino is where you’ll likely spend most of your time, it’s important for it to be visually appealing, and the developers have done a great job of capturing the flavor and atmosphere of a high class casino. Intermittent chatter and light jazzy music color the backdrop as you navigate the space and appreciate little details like the well rendered playing surfaces, appropriately glossy leather chairs and soft glow of neon signs on the walls. Movement across the space also works smoothly, as I appreciated the ability to be able to turn in whatever direction I wanted by pressing the corresponding button on the touchpad. For as atmospheric as the artists have managed to make this single space, one concern I have is that players could grow tired of it rather quickly. It is quite dark and could become repetitive upon playing the game for multiple days on end, so the introduction of new spaces in updates would be greatly appreciated.Those who enjoy gambling and are looking forward to this game will surely enjoy the solid gameplay and potential for new friendships through the game’s social elements, but there is something left to be desired for more casual gamers who might just be looking to either hone their skills or pick up new games in a low stress, low stakes environment. No tutorials exist in this build explaining both how the casino games work in real life and how to maneuver through them in VR, which I can foresee being frustrating for those simply looking to pick up and play. Perhaps the game was designed for more hardcore gamblers in mind, but I think that most players would appreciate an overarching tutorial system in order to smooth out the learning curve. That being said, for any casino enthusiasts, every element that you would want in a casino style video game is here and done well. It remains to be seen just how much traction this game can gain beyond its hardcore audience and how much longevity it will have, and there are still multiple areas of the game which haven’t been seen, but those looking to channel their inner gambling urges in a way that will allow them to keep their savings will find a nice, comfortable home here.
- Story: N/A
- Visuals: 3.5 out of 5 - Casino space has nice ambiance, but several other areas have not been seen and the headset avatars detract from the immersion.
- Playability: 4.5 out of 5 - Each casino game is functionally simple and easy to use in VR, although, again, mechanics present in other spaces could not be tested.
- User interface: 3 out of 5 - A tutorial to explain the space and the games would have been helpful, and there are also no descriptors on the main menu to tell you what you’re selecting.
- Replay Value: 3.5 out of 5 - Casino-goers will surely be happy with what this game has to offer, although it remains to be seen how much replayability will be provided by this single space and how much variety the game’s other areas can interject.
3.5 out of 5
Casey Hawkins is a recent graduate of Hendrix College, and now a full-time writer and editor at VR Voice.