Welcome, player 3274, to the Football Improvement Centre. You are here to undergo an intense re-education.
The key to Headmaster’s success is in the simplicity of its central idea and the skill with which this idea has been carried off. Tasked with nothing more than using your head to hit footballs at targets, you don’t even need a controller to play, just the PSVR headset and your noggin. You’ll then be shuttled through a variety of lessons, earning one to three stars depending on your performance; these stars will then count towards unlocking final exams which will test all the skills you have learned thus far. Simple.
In less capable hands such a slight premise could have been a short-lived experience, better suited to a tech demo than a retail game. However, Frame Interactive have crafted an unexpectedly addictive and fun little game which provides a proper challenge in single player as well as a fun party game to play with friends, and this is all down to how well Headmaster utilises VR technology.
The basic act of heading footballs is beautifully realised here and everything onscreen reacts perfectly to the strength and direction you place on your shots. Any sort of lag or error in hit detection would have been disastrous but these problems have been avoided completely and as a result there is a certain amount of depth to the gameplay. Less skilful players can still generally coast through levels earning the minimum amount of points, and the game can be blown through quite quickly if you adopt this approach, but there is much satisfaction to be had in becoming skilful enough to ace everything that’s thrown at you – and everything will be thrown at you.
As you progress through Headmaster’s lessons, Frame Interactive up the ante in all sorts of fun and unexpected ways. You’ll find yourself heading balls strapped with explosives at walls of cardboard boxes, shooting colour-coded balls through hoops, trying to smash a piñata by heading balls at it as hard as you possibly can and lobbing and looping tough trick shots beyond the reach of your mortal enemy, the thing you fear most in the world, the goalkeeper. It’s hard to convey just how much fun doing these things is and it’s the kind of experience that could only be achieved in VR, it feels like you’re actually hitting footballs with your head, which in turn makes it all the more fun when you find an explosive ball, giant piece of wood or some other random object coming hurtling towards your face.
Beyond the flawless mechanics, Headmaster is full of humour and although some of its Portal-esque jokes fall flat and the idea of a sarcastic voice blaring out at you from a nearby loudspeaker isn’t exactly original, it’s still a nice addition to the gameplay and gives the whole thing a charm and uniqueness that is quite unexpected.
Overall then, Headmaster is quite a surprise, one of the more polished, fun and easy to play launch games available for PSVR. I’ve pumped far more hours into it than I expected I might and in doing so suffered absolutely no motion sickness or headaches as everything in-game is crisp, clean and easy to navigate. No doubt this sort of VR experience will become harder to recommend as the platform’s library grows and develops more full-on gaming experiences, but, in the here and now, so soon after launch, Headmaster is an easy-to-recommend, addictive and fun little game that is a worthy addition to any PSVR library.
Fun, addictive and simple gameplay
Plenty of challenge for players who want to ace every test
Controls work beautifully
Explosive footballs aren’t used in the premier league