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Budget Cuts Ultimate Review: Familiar But Aging Stealth Thrills

Budget Cuts Ultimate artwork

Five years later, Budget Cuts Ultimate merges both entries into a single package. Bringing those same stealth-action thrills to Quest and PSVR 2, does Neat Corporation's popular series still hold up? Read on for our full review.

Budget Cuts was one of my earliest PC VR experiences. I had finally built a high-end gaming desktop, and after experiencing early tech demos and PSVR, my Rift S felt like a breath of fresh air. Hiding from ADAM aside, I greatly enjoyed the original game and though I never started Budget Cuts 2: Mission Insolvency, I was all in when Neat Corp announced Ultimate.

The Facts

Platforms: PSVR 2, Quest 2, Quest Pro (Review conducted mainly on PSVR 2)
Release Date: Out Now
Developer: Neat Corporation
Price: $29.99

For newcomers, Budget Cuts Ultimate wraps this stealth-action premise with corporate satire. As an employee of megacorporation TransCorp, experts at cost-cutting robot production and automation, you discover fellow humans are either mysteriously disappearing or suddenly quitting once summoned to HR.

With your life at risk, your goal involves escaping this automated dystopia, eventually leading into the wider world. Helping you is Winta, a mysterious figure that provides guidance through phone calls. Her help is limited to friendly advice, but you soon receive a multi-purpose translocator, which acts like a portal gun and fires ball-shaped locators.

This locator creates a window to survey the scene, checking what's around the corner while sneaking about and stepping through for teleport-based locomotion. This allows you to get through vents, accessing otherwise closed-off locations. Ultimate encourages thorough exploration to find items like missing keycards for progression, which creates enjoyable puzzle-solving. However, that often descends into aimless wandering as the way ahead isn't always clear.

Budget Cuts Ultimate screenshot

Take care when traveling, though. TransCorp's offices are filled with friendly office worker robots and militant Supervisors alike, so come armed. Using your Translocator's limited inventory space, you can store weapons ranging from simple office equipment like scissors or letter openers to a Translocator crossbow, taking down robots with surprisingly brutal kills.

Even now, combat remains a rush as you watch the oil pour from these lifeless husks. Taking down these menacing foes strategically is immensely satisfying; stealth feels particularly nerve-racking in VR with heightened immersion, boosted by headset haptics when enemies attack.

Once you reach the second half of Ultimate, it’s clear that this all-encompassing release is what the first Budget Cuts should have been. The original "ending" was more of a mid-episode break than a genuine conclusion but thankfully, Ultimate creates a seamless merge between these two campaigns. Adding in all previously released post-launch content, too, this feels like the definite way to experience this duology.

Budget Cuts Ultimate screenshot

Just don't expect big changes. On PSVR 2, there aren't any major visual upgrades compared to the first game's PSVR port (Mission Insolvency never followed) and on several occasions, I struggled to read the low-resolution text without getting close. That's more forgivable on the lower-spec Quest 2 and when playing in Meta's headset, Ultimate benefits from untethered gameplay.

Campaign merging aside, I believe Neat Corp could have done more to improve these older games. What's here is a functional but no-thrills port and playing a PC VR game from 2018 on PSVR 2 in 2023 with little-to-no visual changes feels slightly underwhelming. Headset and controller haptic feedback are both supported and while I didn't expect them to retroactively add eye-tracking, I believe guns and the bow could benefit from adaptive trigger support.

Comfort

Alongside teleportation movement through the translocator, Budget Cuts Ultimate includes smooth artificial locomotion with adjustable speeds, ranging from a slow walk to sprinting. Smooth and snap camera turning are both available with different speeds and angles. Auto crouch can also be activated.

Ultimate contains several accessibility 'cheats', which disables achievements but adds significant customization. Knives can become homing weapons, indestructible and glow for increased visibility. Enemy NPC abilities can be altered for lower/increased detection speed, aiming skill, health, alongside disarming them. Bullet speed and gravity settings are also tweakable.

I also faced minor issues with aiming when teleporting. Shooting the locator ball across open areas is generally okay, but firing it over a ledge, window or through a vent didn't always aim as intended. Even when avoiding obstructions, this often showed me a trajectory that would bounce everywhere. This is a small problem, though it means precise aiming can feel tricky.

Budget Cuts Ultimate screenshot

Budget Cuts Ultimate - Final Verdict

VR's made significant leaps since 2018, and returning to Budget Cuts feels like meeting an old friend. Several flaws hamper this experience and you can tell this was originally conceived during a different time, though great action-stealth gameplay and good humor make Budget Cuts Ultimate worth a look. I'm disappointed that there isn't a more significant upgrade on PSVR 2 but overall, I'm pleased to see these games reaching a new generation.


UploadVR focuses on a label system for reviews, rather than a numeric score. Our reviews fall into one of four categories: Essential, Recommended, Avoid and reviews that we leave unlabeled. You can read more about our review guidelines here.

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