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Bonelab VR


Release Date

ESRB Rating




Bob Hoose

Game Review

There are games that you simply play, and games that take on a life of their own. Bonelab is designed to be one of the latter.

This physics-based virtual reality title was first released in 2022 (currently available for Rift, Quest and Oculus VR headsets). At its simplest, it’s a broad, and somewhat bizarrely meta, action game. But the game’s makers declare that Bonelab’s gameplay experience is designed to be 33% plot, 33% sandbox and 33% user-generated content. We’ll get to that latter side of play in a bit.

Bonelab drops players into a 360-degree, fully immersive VR gaming world called Fantasyland. They play as a former NPC (Non-Player Character) that attempted to break out of its designed roll and is … about to be hanged by other NPCs. But after cutting the hangman’s noose and dropping into a pit, the character sets off to find its way through, and out, of a large virtual labyrinth that plays out like a cross between an abandoned multi-storied factory, an old amusement park and a series of disparate video game levels.

Players discover that someone named Jimmy is trying to help them escape, and he sends them through a variety of challenges to gain access to different avatar types. They subsequently gain the ability to switch between Heavy, Light, Tall, Small, Fast and Strong types—all essential to besting the games challenges.

Through subsequent levels, gamers must pick up various weapons; solve environmental puzzles; give battle to robots and NPCs; and navigate platforms, tunnels and tracks.

But in a way, the game campaign of five to 10 hours feels designed more like an introduction to game movement, level possibilities and weapon types than anything else.

As mentioned above, Bonelab was designed with user-generated content in mind. And though most average gamers won’t be “modding,” that is, modifying the game’s code (all of which is accomplished with external software and programming skills), the game has certain built-in elements that make doing so easier.

Bonelab encourages players to import custom-built avatars, maps, vehicles and weapons. And at this point there are literally thousands of modded VR maps, campaigns, characters and sandbox items that users can download and experiment with.  


Bonelab offers a large, immersive VR world that’s relatively easy to navigate and adapt to. Modders will find it to be a very creative sandbox to work with as well. And as programmers offer up their own creations, it gives gamers fun new campaigns and interesting environments to enjoy.

Available mods introduce everything from jetpacks to Ferraris as modes of transportation. And your character can change as well, letting you play as a superhero, characters from other games, robots and recognizable real-life individuals. You’ll also find campaigns based on everything from bank robberies and ghostly quests to sandbox play in a waterpark filled with hundreds of waterslides. 


Even without mods, Bonelab is filled with quite a bit of violence. Players bash and shoot NPCs, animated skeletons and robots with axes, knives, bludgeons and a wide selection of pistols, rifles, shotguns and automatic weaponry.

Those NPCs attack back and slump over and moan as they’re killed. When gamers die, the screen blinks to black and they restart at an earlier point in the game.

While violent, the unmodded deadliness is relatively gore free and the characters are often humanoid but unrealistic looking. The worst of the gush is a little splash of blood from more well-defined human characters.

Modded additions, however, can open the door to much messier content. Characters can be programmed to gush fountains of blood. Bodies can be hacked, slashed, crushed and dismembered. Flame throwers, hacking saws, explosive devices, and overpowered guns can make the play much more destructive and potentially goopy. And language can get increasingly nasty, too.

In addition, the VR controls of Bonelab can feel a little awkward at times. Unlike the new PSVR2 games (such as Horizon Call of the Mountain) Bonelab’s hand physics are sometimes oddly wonky, gripping things and climbing can require multiple attempts.


2022’s Bonelab is a VR adventure that invites experimental play. But its M-rated violence has a tendency to be increasingly severe in user-generated offerings.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.