Mannequin Hands-On: VR Prop Hunt Strikes A Convincing Pose

Mannequin, the Prop Hunt-inspired asymmetrical VR multiplayer game, reaches Quest App Lab today. Read on for our full impressions.

I've always seen VR multiplayer as a risky proposition for developers. Making a successful game with an engaged player base long-term is already tough on flatscreen platforms with countless competition, never mind the comparative niche of VR. That's not to say it's impossible - Ghosts of Tabor, Rec Room, Gorilla Tag and Walkabout Mini Golf are all great examples, just that it's trickier. Reminiscent of Prop Hunt in Garry's Mod, I believe Mannequin could be a hit.

Developed by Fast Travel Games, this isn't the first time I've tried Mannequin - my former colleague Harry Baker and I both went hands-on at Gamescom 2023. I immediately noticed how much the game has progressed since that initial demo. The lobby area, visuals and general gameplay feel significantly more polished. After reacquainting myself via the tutorials, I spent the first two matches playing as an alien.

Mannequin's premise involves strange crystals emerging globally that have frozen their surrounding areas in time, leaving any nearby humans stuck in place. This coincides with the emergence of Mannequins, strange shapeshifting aliens who can blend into their environments. For a multiplayer game, that's all the story you really need.

What follows is a 3v2 PvP match that uses a best-of-five rounds format, resetting the map after each round. Three Mannequins can pose as frozen humans to blend into your surroundings, killing Agents with a single touch. Agents must search for Mannequins using a multitool device that swaps between a scanner and an EMP gun. One shot is all it usually takes to secure the kill.

For my hour-long preview, I was joined by a Fast Travel Games rep - UploadVR's former Editor, Jamie Feltham, alongside Bryan Ruffy (Ruff Talk VR), and Sonya Haskins (VR Fitness Insider). Because we didn't have five players, this turned predominantly into 2v2 match-ups as we played all four maps, followed by a surprisingly tough 3v1 match where everyone fought Jamie.

Mannequin uses artificial stick-based locomotion—there's no teleportation movement here, and that's ideal since it wouldn't fit gameplay. A straightforward control scheme means there's a pleasing lack of friction when jumping in. With Agents, your scanner can also fire a Gauss Detector that scans a small area, highlighting any nearby shapeshifters. Alongside shapeshifting, Mannequins can dash by holding the right trigger.

Freezing in place conveniently highlights where the map's three energy extractors are, and these offer both teams a strategic advantage. For example, draining one gives your Mannequin a speed boost and draining two gives them a shield, so you can survive being shot once. However, failing to drain two extractors within three minutes means Agents can see you through walls. Agents only have six charges in their EMP guns, so you can't be too trigger-happy, though placing them inside an extractor recharges your weapon.

This creates a compelling gameplay cycle that's easy to learn while offering considerable depth. Lining up opportunities as a Mannequin without looking too out of place feels incredibly tense and winning is highly satisfying. As an Agent, I had to carefully balance scanning the local environment and choosing my shots. Navigating these maps to find aliens is similarly tense and a slight delay between swapping functions can make you vulnerable.

Should a Mannequin get shot or an agent get touched, your teammates have a very limited window to revive you. If you die, there's no respawns and you're out until the next round. Thankfully, the game doesn't place you in a spectator mode once you die. If they can't reach you in time, you can continue communicating with teammates over voice chat and explore the map as a ghost. You can also ping certain locations by pressing B, a useful touch when voice chat isn't an option.

Mannequin is a strong example of a simple idea well executed. While it's still got a long way to go thanks to the early access release, Fast Travel Games is already delivering a highly entertaining take on Prop Hunt that feels perfectly natural to VR. I've left this preview feeling very optimistic about what's coming next.

Mannequin launches today on Quest App Lab for $19.99 with a 50% discount code available. A Steam Early Access release is also in development.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.uploadvr.com/mannequin-vr-early-access-preview/