PSVR is jam-packed with goofy little experiences, and Startenders is the newest to join that lineup. A procedural bartending game with a twist, the experience offers a perfectly pleasant distraction for a little while.
As a mundane, office working human, you suddenly get transported to a space station where you are then forced into work as a “startender”, a bartender that kowtows to the whims of a cavalcade of cosmic clientele. The game is very economical with how it presents everything to you, so there’s not much movement on your part, allowing the action to function in a very limited amount of space. Hand tracking is solid, there’s rarely any of the floating movement you’d find in more active games, and resetting your position is rarely a necessity.
Mixing the drinks is presented plainly, and all your tools and ingredients are within arms reach while stationed at your bar. You have rotating platforms that allow you to cycle the machines you need, and all steps and ingredients are presented with easy-to-follow icons, so it’s rare that we felt overwhelmed by individual drink orders. Once you start catering to multiple customers at a time, the gameplay gets frantic, and the challenge grows to unexpectedly high levels as you progress in the campaign.
Much of the difficulty comes down to luck of the draw, as the patrons and their requests are procedurally generated, but this added repetition to the title. For whatever reason, the patrons have a tendency to ask for the same drinks back-to-back, so we’d find ourselves repeating orders a lot more than would be ideal.
The bartending on its own would get old fairly quickly, so the title does a good job of breaking things up, offering a plethora of tasks and distractions in between shifts working on drinks. There’s a neat minigame that sees you actually construct all the tools you need for work, as well as some half-baked sports games in your bedroom.
All in all, the title jams a surprising amount of content into a reasonably priced package, while offering a satisfyingly silly experience worthy of your time.