Virtual Mate Review – One-on-One with Virtual Sheila

We first became aware of Virtual Mate back in 2019 where at first-glance the product looked like quite the upgrade on many Adult VR titles circulating at the time. To the point, a number of people (including ourselves) were somewhat sceptical. We witnessed plentiful screams of “SCAM” in loud voices to protect those yet to part with the £140 asking price (yet it wasn’t a scam, far from it). Events further soured after a failed Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign. Yet, we gave Virtual Mate the benefit-of-the-doubt in the face of increasing adversity from various online communities. The cream of the adult VR experiences crop at the time offered static women which allowed players to customize, move and animate them, but not much more beyond that. Virtual Mate on the other-hand presented a story, animations and an actual device to give the player some tactile feedback. In a nutshell, a male experience with a life-like model where you controlled the action via its core device.

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Looking at the core briefly, you put your junk in (with a bit of lube obviously), and hammer away whilst the virtual female on your TV or in VR reacts accordingly. This might seem a little scary or weird, but when we thought about it, we rationalised these actions. If countless women have openly enjoyed adult toys, then why should men be left behind? We can imagine people have many reasons to use a toy beyond simply getting-off in the absence of a partner, so we went for it…for science.

The adult sex toy industry is a multi-billion dollar industry (over 33 Billion USD in 2020), but there is little talk with regards to male toys. It seems like a taboo subject or the butt of jokes in movies. However, if you dig beneath the surface, there are a plethora of toys for men ranging from life-sized dolls to automated masturbation machines. It’s here where Virtual Mate sits, within the realms of toys such as Fleshlight but with an all inclusive package. Nowadays a number of VR Porn producers have embraced male toys where you can sync movements with the on-screen action. Virtual Mate offers something similar but with a 3D model rather than a live actress.

THE HARDWARE:

We’re not going to get too technical here because some things are just basic knowhow, such as the box is pretty discrete coming in pure white, the contents easy to unpack and put together, and the setting up/ installing of software from a code that comes with the device relatively easy. Launching a launcher with a unique username & password and then booting the software with the dongle connected to your PC or Laptop’s USB is quick and painless.

Disclaimer: We are using top-end hardware (an RTX 3090 GPU and i9 9900K CPU) with a HP Reverb G2 VR headset, so our experience might be better than average Joe’s system. That said, we couldn’t discern too many differences between the various graphics options other than the image looking somewhat sharper on higher resolution settings.

Right out-of-the-gate we have to warn that Virtual Mate isn’t perfect and won’t be suitable for all, but if you can dig its virtual beats with a touch of imagination and perhaps temper your expectations, then you will likely have some fun with it.

First issue we had with the core though aside from one of the pins getting stuck on the core base unit, is how it fits together to charge. Whilst the core itself and silicone sleeve feels weighty and well made, the fitting to the base unit is a little too fiddly. It just doesn’t work very well and requires the five pins to be perfectly aligned and snapped into position before it will work. Anything less and you are met with flickering blue lights and a non-functional device.

Once locked-in place, a pleasant blue neon light emits whilst the heating element charges which takes a few minutes. You can either plug in the supplied dongle into a USB slot on your PC or use Bluetooth which is currently in beta phase. The dongle offers the better experience at the moment but hopefully Bluetooth will catch-up. Warning here, the dongle is quite wide, so you might have difficulty slotting it in depending on where you put it. That’s why Bluetooth should be the primary connection eventually. As for the heating element, it’s a bit of a dud. It does work as you can feel heat to the touch on the outside, but fails to actually heat inside the silicone sleeve. Perhaps a rinse with warm water before use could be a solution. Again, warning not to get any moisture near the charging base, so a warm rinse after it has charged perhaps stating the obvious here. That said, we felt comfortable without any heating. So it’s down to personal preference here.

Next let’s take a closer look at the sleeve. We are male adult toy virgins so have nothing to compare to in terms of how it feels against other products. The biggest issue is getting inside properly. The entrance is a small hole and the cavity seems quite narrow but extremely stretchy. There is no release for air as you push inside so that makes entering difficult. More lube then and a technique of pushing inside with a finger at the same time to release some of the pressure. It’s not an easy thing to get used to if you’re a noob with these things and maintaining hardness might become an issue which requires some practice. However, the tightness of the sleeve does feel pleasant especially on the tip and seems to have a natural grip.

THE SOFTWARE

There are lots of adult VR games and experiences out there, some much better than others, but very few actual finished products. Virtual Mate joins the list of “in development” titles, but as mentioned offers an all-inclusive option. The software is a major part of what you are buying into with more models, content and improvements coming in future updates. The core works on its own and you can use it watching regular porn, VR or otherwise – there is an option to quickly load up some videos from Pornhub if that’s your calling. Virtual Mate is all about interacting with the Sheila model though in the Story or Quick Mode. The former features dialogue with a male actor taking on your role, offering a basic story which ends up with sex during each of the 6 scenes currently available. Some people might find the male voice off-putting making it hard to role-play. We think an option to remove the male voice entirely and just have selectable text choices would fare better. The quick mode allows players to choose the model (currently only Sheila), her outfit from a choice of 5 and then a scene of which you can select either a submissive or dominant Sheila personality. You can dive right in to the action however, you can only use the one apartment location.

Virtual Mate’s software is a mixed-bag. The premise behind it is, you put your junk, finger or toy inside the core and the lovely Sheila model reacts according to your depth and speed, via various sensors. It actually works and is pretty neat, however, there is much room for improvement. As a user, you need to consider your position, either standing, seated, lying down on your back, or if you want to do the thrusting, lying on your side in bed. Some button presses on the keyboard can change Sheila’s position, but voice-commands or buttons on the core would have been a better solution. Then there is the major issue of whether you become aroused by the audio and computer generated imagery. Sheila’s audio performance is to a high-standard, but you do have to open your imagination a little. Some additional variety in terms of her mood would help and perhaps an option for a less “porn star” performance for those who prefer that. Like most CGI characters, Sheila begins to repeat phrases and sounds which is off-putting. Negatives aside, when lost in the moment, Sheila responds very well. Begging you not to stop, or thrust harder, or deeper, even showing frustration if you pull out. She is there to please and encourage you making it pretty awesome when it works. There is an element of teasing too, but the audio doesn’t fully take advantage of that which is something they could add in future.

Sheila’s character model looks great though and features full lip-synching (which is slightly off at times) and facial expressions. The audio and this type of animation puts the software ahead of many other adult titles which seem to fall short in this department. It’s great having such a reactive model both visually and aurally. On the downside, the apartment location where parts of the story or quick modes take place lacks variety and is too bright. A better lighting model would improve this. There is an option to black out the background and just showcase Sheila which admittedly looks much better. Some new locations in addition to the apartment, locker room and future themed room might spice things up a bit here. The developers plan to add additional models to the mix at some point in the future which hopefully will provide some much needed variety, especially if they have their own personalities and sound-bites. It’s to be seen though at this stage. Customization would also be welcome allowing players to create their own version of Sheila. That said, the developers recently released the SDK so that other developers can use the core for their programs. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of it.

THE VR OPTION

Virtual Mate works using a normal TV screen or monitor, but the option to dive-in to VR for a more immersive experience exists. However, at present this is a very basic option and in need of some refinement. Once inside VR, players can access the main menu and choose either Story or Quick modes of play. Once in-game though, you become rooted to the spot with no option to freely move around. You can look around freely, but there is no option to move your hands and interact with Sheila. This is a basic VR function for most adult VR games and experiences, so the lack of it here is massive shame. In addition, Shelia doesn’t actually look at the player, so a head look would create more semblance of believability here. It’s great the game offers VR but it just feels a little too half-hearted at the moment. Hopefully they can add more to this feature which obviously should be the best way to experiences this software.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Is Virtual Mate worth the price of entry and more importantly worthwhile buying right now then? Aside from the poor marketing on the official website which features misleading imagery, a discount countdown that never ends, and features unavailable, this is a fun product. We don’t feel like we have wasted our money on this. However, it might be a bit of novelty at present due to a lack of variety and things to do with the software. The developers could offer so much more with what they have already, but progress on additional features seems quite slow. At the very least they are updating parts of the package such as new scenes, and Bluetooth functionality, but bigger more encompassing promised features like new models hasn’t happened yet.

We like Virtual Mate, but recognize it has potential to take things much further. In use, you do get a great feeling of one-to-one action with a virtual person complete with tactile feedback. So in this regard it succeeds and places it above many of its peers. Yet, the software and hardware feel like an experimental Version 1 product though, where an improved Version 2 might address many of the negatives levelled against it. Still, if you want to delve into the world of male toys, then this is a good place to start regardless of whether there are reportedly better devices on the market. Its unique selling point is its all-in-one offering which is handy if you don’t want to fiddle about with other pieces of software. You do have to work though to get the optimal experience out of this, which if you lack patience could be an issue. With more content promised, it might be prudent to hold-off until that is available. But…Shelia as of now does make for a sexy interactive virtual partner to play with of which we would have no qualms visiting again.

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain fair in his analysis and free from publisher/developer influence. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.