Every person who picks up a paintbrush has the idea of creating something unique and spectacular. Unfortunately, what follows is often a mess and a vision that is forced to shift as the creation develops. Most artists in the real world face limited paint and canvas, usually capping what they can accomplish at one time.
Painting VR doesn’t have that problem, as artists are given endless amounts of supplies and reference material before the paintbrush ever hits the canvas. Truly the only limit that players will face is the boundaries of their imagination. Painting VR immediately puts every tool into the players’ hands from the start, which can be a little daunting at first.
When players first start the game, they’ll be dropped into an art studio that resembles a park out of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It isn’t a bad thing, as it provides a humble feeling. It’s like the player is a fledgling artist, just working in whatever space they can find. The environment lends itself a lot to the immersion, and it helps that players can fully interact and move around it.
When you first start, there are a lot of tools and menus that you’ll find yourself trying to understand or ignoring altogether. When you’re first getting used to the controls and mechanics, these seem to get in the way. Although, players may want to pay attention to the movement settings. For unknown reasons, both controllers are used for movement as default when you launch the game.
The left thumbstick moves the player like they’re walking, and the right thumbstick is used for snap turning and teleporting. This can lead to more than a few headaches when the player keeps teleporting instead of turning. It’s cool that the developer offers both modes of transportation in Painting VR, but it shouldn’t provide them simultaneously.
The lack of any tutorial or any other guidance system is usually a hindrance in games since players often feel for clues in the dark. But in Painting VR, the lack of tutorial is something that we can spin to its credit. Whether the player watches the short intro video or not, the immediate sense of freedom invites them to try whatever they want, and it’s enjoyable to experiment in that way.
When the brush first hits the canvas it’s a genuine surprise. Every slight movement of the brush looks so fluid and responds to the slightest movement. It feels like the player is painting with a brush responsive to every stroke, which is really impressive. Whether the Quest 2 controllers or the game itself, this adds a whole new level of focus.
Each mistake feels impactful, even though it can be undone. As Bob Ross once called them, “happy accidents” come with the territory and will require the player to be extra careful when handling anything with paint on it. Some of the brushes feel a bit sensitive, so you’ll have to be cautious about slinging paint onto the canvas when you don’t mean to.
However, you can use this effect to create some pretty exciting stuff when the player means to sling paint all over. Unfortunately, that’s not the only bug that causes problems with the paint on the canvas. Be careful where you set the paint cans because the bottom will leak and create a perfect circle of paint if you place it on the palette. Also, don’t get the palette too close to the easel, or it will leak little circles.
The inclusion of a web browser is such a small but essential feature. The player can use it to get reference drawings, but it also allows access to music. Nothing will make you focus on your painting like blasting your favorite songs while you work. Even untalented artists can enjoy stress relief by painting and jamming out to some music.
That being said, the web browser could use a few tweaks to work for the player. Reference images pulled up in Google are often too small to notice the finer details. It would be nice if there were an option to zoom in on your reference image.
The keyboard also needs work for people who have shaky hands. Instead of being mounted under the browser, it would be much easier to use if it appeared in front of the player like it does when it’s time to save a creation. This would make it easier to use instead of pointing at each letter and having your hand slip at the last second.
Mixing is a big part of Painting VR since players only start with primary colors, with a few minor exceptions. If the player wants to work with new colors, they’ll have to create them using the different buckets of paint around the shop. It was fun to experiment with mixing colors but can become tiring when you’re constantly running out of buckets.
If your project requires more than a few colors, you may have to reset your paints multiple times to get what you’re looking for. However, when you do that, it resets all the colors you had already mixed, which defeats the purpose. If there were a way to get more buckets to mix paint in or a color menu that allowed players only to pick primary colors, it would go a long way towards making mixing easier.
After browsing the developer’s Discord, it’s clear that the early access release will be the first of more updates to come in the future. In the meantime, players are encouraged to join Discord and share their creations with the developers and other artists.
The Final Word
Overall, Painting VR is likely what many amateur and professional VR artists are looking for. Logging in and seeing paint on canvas, the different textures, and experimenting with tools is a unique experience that rivals creating art in real life. In addition, the ease to then export and share those paintings will only allow creativity to blossom further as the community evolves.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a Meta Quest 2 review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!