Interkosmos 2000 let us sabotage our own space mission and we couldn’t be happier.
No, we weren’t trying to set a record for the quickest Game Over, but we wanted to check that this Meta Quest 2 space-sim, from developer Ovid Works, is more interactive that a chunk of moon rock. You can’t abandon your mission to rescue the International Space Station to, say, land on Saturn, but you can mess up in so, so many ways.
So, as we quickly discovered, twiddling random knobs and, as a result, venting our oxygen into space, is not a life-prolonging activity. Interkosmos 2000 could exist without VR but, crammed into your small capsule, it wouldn’t be half as much fun or half as harrowing without having near-disaster in your face.
You’re not without guidance, but Interkosmos 2000 nicely conveys the horror of being in space. It’s not that there’s some slimy monster out to get you: being more rooted in reality, it’s the knowledge that you’re a couple of malfunctions away from a lonely death that puts you on edge here. You never leave your craft but just sitting there, gazing at the buttons – fewer than real astronauts have to deal with – is both humbling and daunting.
The game can tell you what to do next but it won’t tell you where, so you end up shoving your seat back and forth frantically scanning for buttons. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek – the solution to at least one problem is to whack the panel with a wrench, and you’ve got America and Russia grumbling in your earpiece – but it doesn’t divert from how manic things can get.
Success is down to a keen eye, good memory, decent reactions and a fair amount of experience. The view through your vessel’s window doesn’t quite convince but, given the power of the Quest 2, that’s not surprising. Besides which, you’ll be too occupied with managing tasks, checking displays (or just messing around with your seat) to admire the view.
We’ve yet to successfully rescue the ISS but Interkosmos 2000 made us feel enough like a real astronaut that we’ll keep coming back for more. If you’ve got a Meta Quest 2 and an interest in space and space travel, consider this a must have.