To sum up the lessons of Vacation Simulator: If you want to cut to the chase and read this review in the most efficient way possible, skip to the end for the score. If you want a more in-depth, more meaningful review, take your time to read it all, and enjoy the journey along the way.
These two competing philosophies are personified (or perhaps, “roboto-morphized”) as Efficiency Bot and Vacation Bot, the two robo-hosts of Vacation Simulator. One will try to speed you through the experience with data and graphs, showing you the optimal way to enjoy a vacation. The other will urge you to patiently explore, contemplate, and find satisfaction on your own. For most players, neither approach is entirely satisfactory on its own, so Vacation Simulator strikes just the right balance between guided activities and free-form fun.
Welcome To Vacation Island
Like its predecessor Job Simulator, Vacation Simulator takes place in a cartoonish future. You are the only remaining human, and robots have attempted to replicate human pastimes. After working yourself ragged serving sandwiches and fixing cars in the first game, you can enjoy a nice virtual vacation with the same offbeat sense of humor.
Vacation Simulator is a luxury-class upgrade, making it feel much more profound and much richer than the first game. Job Simulator confined you to small workspaces and had every robot customer fly to you. In Vacation Simulator, however, you get to freely explore a large play area comprised of one central hub and three distinct vacation zones.
Across a virtual beach, forest, and mountain, you’ll encounter plenty of bots who will entertain you with delightful banter and also give you tasks to complete, called “memories.” For example, building a sandcastle on the beach (in the form of a tricky 3-D puzzle) or serving hot dogs slathered in coolant will earn you the memories needed to unlock new activities. Some of these activities repeat between zones, like collecting bugs or shooting targets, but most of them are unique to each zone and are exceedingly clever.
One of the most surprisingly satisfying activities in the game is taking photos. Using an in-game camera, you can snap a pic of anything and bring it to a Photo-Bot. If you capture the right set of images, you’ll earn more memories.
You can even take selfies and pose with a wacky wardrobe that includes furry ears, rainbow sunglasses, a pirate hat, and much more. Removing the camera from your virtual backpack by reaching behind you feels like a genuine vacation moment. This activity should occupy you long after you’ve unlocked all the zones and reached the end credits.
Other standout memories I have of Vacation Simulator include unlocking sunken pirate treasure, skipping rocks on the lake, assembling a custom jigsaw puzzle in a cozy cabin, and discovering the abominable snow-bot. Collecting memories is a sure-fire motivator, and I was generally in awe of how inviting, accessible, and interactive this virtual world can be.
Not every memory you collect is perfect, though. I was disappointed to find that skiing down the mountain is simulated by a stationary mini-game set on a conveyor belt. Mountain climbing is similarly reduced to a single rotating climb-wall, though the shape-or-color matching needed to find your next grip is cleverly done. Knitting and painting are equally lacking, but in a huge collection of activities like this, a few are bound to let you down.
Frequent Flyer Miles
Numerous achievements and collectibles (like mini-games for an in-game console), plus multiple versions of the trickiest puzzles, mean that Vacation Simulator has some of the best replay value of any game in the Oculus Quest store. Short of Republique VR, which also has an overwhelming amount of in-game stuff to find and collect, I’m hard-pressed to think of any another game on Quest that so thoroughly rewards persistence and paying attention.
Vacation Simulator isn’t just deep— it’s also intelligent and charming. Every robot you encounter has a distinct personality, from the enthusiastic bird-watching bot to the so-over-it, bored-of-nature camper bot. With a friendly wave, you can speak to any of those bots, and their hilarious dialogue is punctuated by robotic lingo and error messages.
Like any good vacation, you’ll be sad when Vacation Simulator is finally over, but because of the enormous amount of activities, you’ll want to check in over and over again. Seeking out every last assigned photo, restaurant order, and puzzle solution will probably take most players at least 4-5 hours. It’s a considerable amount of quality content at a reasonable price.
Vacation, All I Ever Wanted
Vacation Simulator’s visual style is simple, and the music is relatively forgettable. But more importantly, it’s a rare game on any console that can combine a strong concept with such wildly varied gameplay. These games are even rarer on the Oculus Quest, which tends to offer quick, flashy experiences that are a bit lacking in overall content and replay value.
Whatever kind of bot you are, efficient or patient, Vacation Simulator offers lots of wonderful activities for you to do. You won’t have to choose between your head and your heart, because Vacation Simulator satisfies both.