Not every virtual reality game has to be an intense, mind-bending, never-before-seen experience for it to be worthwhile. Amid activity-heavy standouts like Beat Saber, BoxVR, and Ninja Legends, it’s nice to have the occasional game that’s soft, quiet, and relaxing. That’s where a game like Fujii really shines.
Disclaimer: My copy of Fujii was provided by Funktronic Labs. However, my opinions in this review are solely my own and have not been influenced by Funktronic Labs in any way.
Want to feel like you’ve been whisked away to a whimsical, magical world where new discoveries await around every corner? Fujii nails that feeling as soon as you load in and open your eyes. I played on the Oculus Quest so the graphics weren’t technically great, but the immersion factor was through the roof. You start off in a deep black void with a small path ahead of you, and it only gets better from there.
The gameplay of Fujii is hard to describe because it isn’t really a game, at least in the traditional sense of conflict, obstacles, and victory. The overarching idea of Fujii is that you’re tending to a garden, but it’s not a gardening simulation. Rather, the actual gameplay is more about exploration and collection.
You roam the world using teleport locomotion, and as you do, you encounter new flora and fauna. The more stuff you discover, the more “light” you spread. As the light spreads, the dark void gradually becomes more visible, expanding the areas you can explore. Exploration is important because you need to find and collect energy orbs (sorry, I don’t know what they’re actually called), which are used to open gates and unlock even more areas to explore.
Of course, all of this exploration centers around your personal garden, which sits at the center of this new world. During your exploration, you’ll also find different seeds that you can collect and bring back to your garden. Planting these seeds and nurturing them with water causes them to grow, and pretty soon you have a beautiful garden to admire and enjoy. The work of your very own hands.
The music in Fujii is incredible. Ambient in design and pleasing to the ears, it perfectly sets the mood with a mix of wonder and excitement without ever becoming too much. The music alone does a lot of heavy lifting in the immersion department, and is really the main reason why Fujii is such a relaxing game. Without music, it’d be a creepy jaunt through greenery; with music, it really is a completely new world.
As mentioned above, Fujii isn’t exactly a game; it’s more of an interactive experience. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with a VR title being “just” an experience, there needs to be something compelling about it to justify it as “just” an experience. Anne Frank House VR, Notes on Blindness, and Mission: ISS are all incredible non-games that each offer unique vantage points. Fujii? Not so much.
The exploration is fun and the environments are lovely, but they both get old fast. The core gameplay loop is very repetitive, and the moment you snap out of that sense of “Hey, I’m in a totally new world, this is awesome!” is the moment you’ll lose all interest in Fujii—because the environment is the only thing worth discovering, and once you no longer care about that, there isn’t anything else to keep your attention.
That said, you’ll probably finish the game before the repetition wears you out because Fujii only has about 2-3 hours of gameplay in it. Again, this wouldn’t be a huge issue if those few hours were mind-blowingly awesome or novel in a way that isn’t available in other VR experiences. Unfortunately, Fujii isn’t all that novel or unique. It’s a relaxing game, but relaxing in a way that offers no replayability. It’s not really the kind of game you can throw on when you need to blow off steam; once you’re done, you’re done.
All considered, Fujii isn’t terrible by any stretch. I just don’t think it’s special enough to warrant the asking price. However, it is a great introduction to virtual reality because it’s so simple, so straightforward, and so lovely. It’s also one of the few VR games, at least for the Oculus Quest, that are appropriate for younger kids!
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