With the incipient release of heavily hyped Brass Tactics still a month away, it’s another light week for Oculus games, but if you’re in the mood to “get cooking,” so to speak, there are several food-themed games to sink your teeth into:
from nDreams, Near Light
Shooty Fruity is multitasking madness – a sort of combination of a grocery-themed job simulator and a wave shooter. Requiring players to stock, price and scan produce while also blasting away waves of vicious mutant fruit, this game from nDreams is bound to get your…ahem…juices flowing.
Bringing madcap and fast-paced cooking action a la Cook! Serve! Delicious! 2!! into the VR realm, unimaginatively titled The Cooking Game VR actually looks like loads of fun. While still technically an Early Access offering, it’s complete as a single-player experience, with only a multi-player PVP mode to be added.
A motorcycle racer that reminds us a bit of old arcade favorites like Super Hang-On, this offering from Dreamflight developers Refugio features more interesting racing environments than the typical European mountain roads. To wit: the arctic, a space station and a sort of futuristic Egyptian theme that recalls the original Stargate film.
from Shanghai Vsensory Network Technology Co., LTD
The debut of an ambitious space opera franchise in the Mass Effect vein, the HTC Vive version of this Shanghai-based project has won multiple awards for its cinematic storytelling. That said, BlackShield: Upora Story has received negative reviews from some players for essentially being a wave shooter that offers too little content for the price, amazing production values notwithstanding.
We hadn’t heard much about Internal Light until it actually showed up, but this first-person action puzzler has us intrigued with a setting that starts out with the grungy horror of the Saw films before progressing into a more science fiction-oriented horror in the vein of the Cube films.
In other potentially exciting news for VR games enthusiasts, Raw Data developers Survios have announced a new multi-player foot-racing game. Entitled Sprint Vector, is due out in a few months on all major VR platforms, but the company is accepting applicants for a 10-day beta period starting today. Apply here to be part of the beta test.
Also: at the Sundance Film Festival, the New Frontiers program features Wolves in the Walls based on Neil Gaiman’s story which started at Oculus’ internal Story Studio. Some are already calling it VR’s Pixar moment.
Be sure to check back next week for the latest Oculus Rift and Gear VR games and news!
With every week that goes by in VR time, we see the positive return from the many conversations, panels, talks, experiments, game jams and cash infusions that have piled up over the past five years. As VR game devs mature and audiences teach them what is working and what is not, the resultant fare is beginning to find its bearings and even show traces of a soul.
At OGR, we try to look at titles that depart from the overabundant roller coaster sim or rail shooter, and it is getting easier every week to find innovative story and world-rich new works. This week’s offerings have been particularly compelling, and here are five we especially liked for all audiences:
Top Five Oculus Games – Oct. 14th-20th, 2017
From the team whose members created such luminary titles as Journey, Flower, Boom Blox and The Sims 2, Luna developer Funomena describes this winsome virtual reality experience as an interactive fable about learning by the light of unexpected mistakes.
We had an opportunity to try the demo out at IndieCade 2017, and what we saw was quite breathtaking. Luna is not a hard game, nor is it fundamentally innovative, but it does something many games fail to accomplish: a unified and aesthetically delightful tone that understands how to use spatialized media to its fullest. The simple spiderweb puzzles left us pulling strands to and fro just because it was such a cool feeling, puzzles be damned.
The reveal of a new element returning to life after each puzzle is solved, the endearing interactive animations elicited by waving one’s hands over the critters, the beautiful score by Austin Wintory all come together to make Luna one of the must-have VR experiences of the year.
Though Call of the Starseed had some minor quibbles, its inventory system was one of the first great demonstrations of how to manage things in embodied narrative space. The game was one of the better looking launch titles and promised a brighter future than most of the shovelware that was being dropped on Steam and other storefronts at the time, like so many Atari E.T. cartridges in a sandpit.
It is telling that the sequel, part two of The Gallery series from Cloudhead, then, comes with only moderate fanfare by comparison, because it is better in every way: graphically, functionally and thematically. The game also uses a similar technique for recounting exposition as Fullbright‘s Tacoma: via holographic recordings. Also, it isn’t epic in length; at under four hours, you can work your way through it in a dedicated night of play. Some people prefer shorter games, and if you are one of them, don’t miss this.
SkyWorld brings the oft-overlooked strategy genre to VR with a mixture of turn-based and real-time action. While the mechanics tend to be on the “accessible” side – think the Clash of Clans games rather than Starcraft II or Command and Conquer – the beautifully animated little battlefields make up for any lack of complexity. If you’ve ever wanted to see a dragon lay waste to a tiny snowglobe-like village in VR, this is the game for you.
The highly acclaimed first-person adventure and its poignant tale of artificial intelligence makes its way to VR, and between the glowing laser puzzles, beautifully decayed buildings and philosophical tone, it’s a perfect fit. The original game’s developers rebuilt The Talos Principle VR from the ground up, so it’s totally optimized for VR and also includes the extensive Road to Gehenna DLC.
DreamTank is VR at its most meditative – no shooting, no action, no puzzles. Instead, selecting one of 10 ambient compositions sets the program in motion, procedurally generating vast alien worlds driven by the sonic evocations. Find one you like, and choose to stay awhile, or let the world continue to evolve around you.
Previously released as a standard PC title, this “walking simulator” has been rebuilt for VR (and if you buy it on Steam, you get the standard version included for free). Like the best walking simulators, Reaching for Petals tells a heartfelt story that we don’t want to spoil here, but the chance to walk through its sun-dappled forests alone in VR is worth the low price of admission.
Just released in Early Access, Until None Remain: Battle Royale VR is a brutal, fast-paced multi-player deathmatch. As if other players and their range of weaponry weren’t dangerous enough, each 15-minute session features poisonous gas forcing all participants into an ever-shrinking play space, so there’s no chance of hiding off in the corner and playing sniper.
Our top five Oculus releases are quite the mix this week, ranging from epic fantasy to interactive murder mystery theater to comedic space engineering:
from Turtle Rock Studios
The Well is hardly what we would have expected from Turtle Rock Studios – the developers best known multi-player action games like Left 4 Dead and Evolve. This instead is an epic fantasy RPG with all that entails, including party recruitment and a quest to save the world.
It’s also totally gorgeous, with cartoon-inspired art that reminds us a bit of The Last Unicorn on DMT, not to mention recent game releases like The Banner Saga and Jotun.
Available for both the Rift and Gear VR, Elevator…to the Moon is what developers ROCCAT Games Studio call a “VR Space Repairman/Jerk President Simulator.” In layman’s terms, that means it’s a comedic first-person adventure in which players build a space elevator while being barked at by a commander-in-chief who sounds suspiciously like a certain Austrian bodybuilder…turned actor…turned politician.
With lots of hidden Easter eggs and plenty of interactive tools like electric screwdrivers and welding torches, this looks both fun and funny. And if you get sick of “President of the World Doug-Slater Roccmeier” ordering you around, you can always take a hammer or baseball bat to the innards of his precious lunar elevator and see what happens.
The Invisible Hours is an interactive theater piece and murder mystery that allows players – as invisible observers – to follow individual characters as the story plays out. The plot takes place in a Victorian mansion over the span of a single night, and players can trace the events from the perspective of each character, rewind time to catch missed clues, and explore the mansion for additional evidence.
Featuring history’s favorite rival inventors, Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla, among other characters, this game reminds us of nothing so much as an Agatha Christie story – or a Masterpiece Theater episodes based on one – set in VR.
The big budget VR FPS of the week, ARKTIKA.1 features all of the tropes you’ve come to expect from the burgeoning genre: dual-wielded pistols, hideous monsters and waves of enemies punctuated by narrative cut scenes. In this instance, the action takes place in a frozen future dystopia.
What piques our interest is that this was developed by 4A Games, the studio behind the Metro series. If anyone knows grim, monster-infested, post-apocalyptic wastelands, it’s them.
Yes, it’s a wave shooter, but Space Pirate Trainer is maybe the ultimate wave shooter. Arriving in Early Access (and on the HTC Vive) before there was such a glut, it’s now out in full release, available for Oculus Rift and ready for full room-scale arcade action. It’s gotten overwhelmingly positive Stream reviews and won multiple categories in last year’s Proto Awards for VR.
Cat Sorter VR made waves in mainstream media last month when it came out for HTC Vive, and now Oculus Rift users can also experience the joy of assembling and disassembling cats in bizarre, adorable and/or disturbing combinations. Its fusion of adorable and horrifying – call it “adorifying” – imagery won it the IndieCade 2017 Aesthetic Award last weekend.
Still in Early Access, Star Shelter boasts the distinction of being one of the first VR survival games. As one might expect from the genre, it requires lots of gathering supplies and crafting, with the added challenge of taking place in zero gravity.
Of course, the biggest Oculus news of the week is Facebook’s announcement of the Oculus Go, a stand-alone VR headset. Utilizing similar controllers to – and cross-compatible with – Gear VR, the new headset will offer a field of view as wide as the Oculus Rift and provide an easy entry level experience to VR newcomers without requiring an expensive smartphone. Oculus will begin shipping dev kits next month.
In another move slowly but surely pushing VR toward mainstream affordability, Oculus has also announced that the recent $399 sale on the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch package will be a new standard price. Both announcements came at this year’s Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, California.