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The Climb VR game review

Game released Apr 21, 2016

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The Climb VR

Pedro reviews The Climb VR
Review by: Pedro
Posted on: May 24, 2020
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From the creators of Hunt: Showdown, Robinson: The Journey, Farcry and the Crysis game series, Crytek, the master developer of stunning graphics and visuals, brings you The Climb - an outdoor simulated experience that allows you to scale huge heights and feel the exhilaration of extreme free solo climbing. The game is exclusive to the Oculus Store, available for the Oculus Quest, Rift, and the Rift S virtual reality headsets. Fully supporting the Oculus touch controllers. 

Age rating: suitable for players age 3+

Game Languages: English, French (France), German, Korean, Spanish (Spain)

Game duration: Expect about 4 - 5 hours of gameplay.

About The Climb

Crytek’s The Climb is actually one of the oldest VR titles around, but it still remains a favourite for many gamers, especially for those who are into outdoor VR experiences and, in terms of fidelity, even today The Climb remains a graphical and visually stunning masterpiece, even compared to some of the most recent game titles. Without a doubt, The Climb is definitely still a classic game for the Rift.

Climbing rock-face

The Experience

As its title suggests, this game is a climbing simulator experience that lets you transcend the dangerous climbs à la Alex Honnold, equipped only with a chalk bag and gloves. Of course, you’re doing this from the safety of your own home and have to imagine that you are hanging by your fingers at a vertigo-inducing height. In the experience, it’s just your hands that are involved, unlike in the real world where climbing involves all four limbs. It would be pretty difficult to recreate true climbing, even in VR. One thing that is pretty cleverly realistic is the way your mind is tricked, simply by the use of visuals. Your stomach seems to churn, like having butterflies, as you glance down from the precipice. It’s quite amazing how real that actually feels! Those afraid of heights might even find this game a little on the scary side!

Scenery and Visuals

The scenery in The Climb is simply out of this world! Quite literally - because you’re in VR! As you navigate and extend to new heights, you’ll enjoy stunning vistas from around the world, including the Alps, Southeast Asia, and the American Southwest.

Stunning vista

As I said, this is a really good-looking game, especially considering it was created back in 2016. Not only are the scenes and landscapes fantastic to gawp at, but the attention to detail is top-notch. You’ll see wildlife like wolves, bats, horse flies, beetles and vegetation that rustles when you go past. Apart from the wind on your face and the sun beating down on your back, the overall experience felt very realistic. Fidelity-wise the visuals appear to be downgraded on the Oculus Quest, certainly in comparison to the Rift S. Then again, those who haven’t owned a superior headset (tethered), would be none the wiser, and an alternative for Quest owners is to buy a compatible data link cable - you’ll get better visuals and have a much larger choice of games to play… Oh, but you will need a half-decent PC as well. Probably the best thing we liked about playing The Climb on the Quest is that there are no wires… er, yeah…that’s it really.


Practice makes perfect

Firstly, like many games, it’s always a good idea to play the tutorial first and this game is no exception. The Climb has a dedicated area for practicing your climbing skills. A female narrator, who explains the basics of climbing and how to use your controllers, as well as tips, like the benefits of chalking your hands to increase your stamina, relays instructions to you. I highly recommend you try the practice area before you play any of the main levels; you’ll have a better overall, immersive game experience. 

climbing wall

The one thing you’ll notice about the practice wall is that it’s unlimited. I mean that, in the sense that the wall is infinite, although you still get to reach the top. As you climb, new pieces of wall appear above you and the more you progress the more challenging the grips become. The practice wall is essential if you're going to tackle the level called The Bay. Once you've cracked that you'll probably want to try out the other climbs, but... in order to play the levels; The North, The Canyon or tackle The Alps, you'll need to complete the Advanced Training section. It’s a great base for improving your climbing skills and very intuitive.

The Climb game levels

The Climb - game trailer


In The Climb, you are completely forward facing, basically you’re standing in one place. But don’t get me wrong - you can still turn around if you want to fall to your death! The Climb is a great game to play, especially if you have limited space, as the game doesn’t require step movements or teleportation of any kind. It does involve you raising your hands above your head to climb, however, so you’ll need to make sure you have good clearance above you, certainly if you’re using a tethered headset - you don’t want getting tied up with wires now do you... or do you? “That’s what she said!”... enough!... If you’ve adapted your controllers to support knuckle straps, you might find your palms get a little sweaty, whether it's from sheer exertion or simply the fear of heights.

High up on cliff face

As far as climbing goes, The Climb is pretty good fun, it certainly gives you a taste for heights. Strangely enough - and before you ask - The Climb is all about climbing. Your primary goal is to scale mountainous cliffs at nail-biting heights, explore hidden caves, and find shortcuts to reach the top as quickly as possible. The more you get into the game and better understand the scoring mechanics, such as how you’re awarded points for rapidly mantling from grip to grip, rather than fearfully pausing between each one, you soon become obsessed and all you want to do is beat the mountain in the fastest time, and everyone else for that matter! The Climb can become very addictive.

Mountain Cable Cart

Play Modes

You can choose free solo climbing, or challenge a family member, friends and other players’ ghost routes to compete for the fastest times and get a place on the leaderboards.

Ghost routes are climbs that have been completed by other players’ ghosts. You don’t play or race cooperatively with anyone, as such. Ghost players are essentially a set of ghost hands that you have to race up the cliff-face. Basically these are data extracts of other players' climb paths, and - more importantly - timed climbs taken from the leaderboard. I’d certainly recommend playing the ghost routes. Visually it’s a good way to gain tips on how to improve on your climbing skills and increase your speeds and, by doing so, unlocking various achievements and gear, like gloves, watches, reward boxes, etc

ghost player climbing

The Climb only has four different environments (levels) - The North, The Bay, The Canyon and The Alps. Although four levels doesn’t sound much, there are also three difficulty settings to choose from, easy, medium, and hard. The various difficulties offer somewhat different challenges. Depending on the level of difficulty you choose, you are led up the rock face via a different path, offering a new climb experience. The harder challenges include crumbling ledges, grips with poisonous plants growing from them, and harrowing leaps with a greater reliance on rapid hand-over-hand movements. The difficulty settings certainly added to the value, both in playability and replayability.

Calm and Mesmerising

While The Climb is only mildly active, physically-wise, it’s certainly an exhilarating game. There is something quite mesmerising about the beauty of the views as you take in the stunning vistas in 360 degrees, in what can only be best described as heaven, sitting calmly at the top of your mountain. This game somehow takes you away from your own world and lets you marvel at wondrous sights while inducing adrenaline. So, while you might have to climb figurative mountains in your real life, being able to climb and overcome these VR mountains really can evoke feelings of inner peace and clarity. The Climb really makes you feel satisfied at having completed the task, while connecting you to a virtual nature - not many games can do that.

Stunning 360 degrees vista

Physical Exertion

It goes without saying, you use your arms a lot in this game. I mean, you climb with them right, so it’s your shoulders where you’ll feel it the most, and if you have a shoulder injury, then you'll definitely feel it! The Climb is also a bit of a pain in the neck - and I mean that quite literally. A large part of climbing, whether in the real or the virtual world, is to look up. Easy enough eh? But no. Think about it. How often do you look up? Oh, look, a plane! That’s about it. In The Climb you’re almost constantly looking up for a place to hang on to as you scale the rock face, and what quickly becomes apparent is that your neck begins to ache. Pain aside and goal in sight, you pull yourself up, finally reaching the top. Ahh, finally, what a beautiful view... God my f***ing neck is killing me! Oh, and my arms! And that was after just 30 minutes of climbing.

What About Nausea?

This question is asked a lot when it comes to VR games, as many do cause nausea. But since locomotion in this game is created by your own movements, you don’t feel as disconnected as in those games that use smooth locomotion. In most VR games, nausea usually happens because you’re standing still in the real world, while your character is moving in the virtual world. In The Climb your physical movements cause your character to move in synchronicity, so most people won’t experience sickness, however, that doesn’t apply to the stomach churning you may get from looking down! You just have to remember that it’s all in the mind.

The Positives

  • A rewarding and compelling rock climbing experience that gives you relaxation as well as thrills
  • The immersion and sense of presence are intense and realistic
  • The ghost-race mode is great for upping the challenge and having social interactions in the game
  • You shouldn't suffer from nausea as there’s no teleportation
  • The game looks excellent on the Rift and is great for showing to family and friends

The Negatives

  • The Quest version doesn’t have as much content as the Rift S and the textures and overall fidelity isn’t as good
  • Not enough levels
  • It can be pretty very uncomfortable if you have a neck or shoulder injury
  • It doesn’t perfectly translate to real climbing as you don’t use your legs and body
  • If you suffer from agoraphobia you might not enjoy this game - unless you use it as a tool to help you overcome your fear of heights.

Final Thoughts

In terms of fidelity, The Climb has to be in the top 6 best looking VR games. Graphically it’s almost on par with Stormland VR. It truly is a stunning game, more so when played on the Rift S. The game mechanics are simple, intuitive and work very well for this type of game.

If you love the idea of climbing, but afraid to take it up in the real world for fear of falling to your death, then you’ll enjoy the adrenaline rush you get with The Climb. It’s the ideal outdoor VR adventure that simulates climbing in the safest possible way, and captivates you throughout, both mentally and visually - discovering shortcuts, exploring caves and scaling to epic heights is just so exciting. The optional challenges, like competing with ghost players, is also a really enjoyable experience, offering plenty in the way of replayability.

For people who suffer from a shoulder or neck injury, please be wary. Neck movements can be reduced to a certain degree if you tilt backwards slightly, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this all the time, as you’ll end up in the same predicament, but with an achy back.

If you suffer from nausea with VR games have no fear, you’ll be fine with this one - although you might have the odd stomach-churning moment when you look down, but this just adds to the excitement! What’s more, the sense of achievement you get when you reach the top of each and every climb is very rewarding. The reward being the breath-taking panoramic view and just for that, it’s well worth ‘The Climb’.

Panoramic views

Did you know, The Climb is listed in our review: Best Oculus Quest Games.

What was your experience playing The Climb? Why not share your thoughts with me using the comment box below.

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Game Developer:

Crytek Crytek
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