Five Interesting and Solid New Releases for Oculus July-August 2019

The days of not having a large enough VR catalog are now well in the rearview mirror, and now we can begin to really pick and choose between the standouts and everything else. The following is a list of solid new releases for Oculus devices we wanted to share circa July-August 2019.

Voyager

from Brian Keeley-DeBonis

Currently in Early Access, this little game from Brian Keely-DeBonis already has us captivated with its exploration and puzzle-driven trip to an abandoned but otherworldly village that looks a little bit like the Anasazi ruins by way of The Legend of Zelda.

An evocative, reverb-heavy ambient score that reminds us a bit of David Sylvian’s work with Can’s Holger Czukay adds to the mystique.

Oculus Go | 277 MB | FREE from Oculus

ROGAN: The Thief in the Castle

from Smilegate Entertainment

We’re getting strong Thief and Dishonored vibes from this one, not just because of the stealth focus but also the not-quite-Medieval, not-quite-Renaissance and not-quite-Steampunk setting.

The game focuses not only on stealth but also the audio elements of sneaking around – listening for nearby guards and doors opening and closing – but even without the Thief-style stealth elements, we’d probably be all in on ROGAN: The Thief in the Castle just for the costume design alone.

Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S | 7.3 GB | $39.99 from Oculus or Steam

Westworld Awakening

from Survios

More stealth, this time set during the second season of the eponymous HBO series, Westworld Awakening sees players taking on the role of a self-aware android – a “host,” in the show’s parlance – exploring a sinister corporate underworld.

Stealth and puzzles abound, and the tension of being stalked by a homicidal host puts this one right between science and fiction and survival horror.

Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S | 17 GB | $29.99 from Oculus or Steam

DUSTNET

from SCRNPRNT

DUSTNET is an experimental take on multi-player shooters, set in an imagined crumbling, far-future de_dust2 server.

If you don’t immediately get that reference, don’t worry; you don’t have to be a hardcore Counter-Strike player to appreciate this game’s vector graphics-driven, almost abstract interpretation of the original game. And it’s cross-platform, so you can even play with your flat screen friends!

Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S | 250 MB | $5.99 from Steam

Meu

from Radix Motion

The first release from Radix Motion, a small development team focusing on the intersection of neuroscience and VR, Meu is a movement toy that lets you capture and edit body language and gesture with some fun psychedelic filters and motion-controlled musical effects.

The ability to record and share adds a social component.

Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S | 414 MB | FREE from Oculus or Steam

Raccoon Lagoon game screenshot courtesy official site

Top Oculus Game Releases – July 2019

While many were justifiably excited about the release of Oculus Quest, it carried over the same problem of a lack of content. Some might call it the Beat Saber toy. Then we had the controversy around Oculus’ aggressively “curatorial” stance, which was accused of being overly like a walled garden that shunned experimental, indie or otherwise unproven titles. Going into month two and three, however, we are starting to see some interesting new titles pop up, and blow through a much needed air of novelty and refreshment. Here are some of our top picks.

Defector

from Twisted Pixel

Incorporating a little of every sort of action – from high tech gun play to down-and-dirty fisticuffs – as well as stealth, deception and even psychological warfare, Defector is a plot-driven spy thriller with multiple diverse missions.

While some of the promotional material compares this to Mission Impossible, the combination of futuristic weaponry and Middle Eastern setting had us thinking of George Alec Effinger’s stories set in the Arabic cyberpunk metropolis of Budayeen.

In any case, this is a polished FPS action experience for VR players looking for something a bit more meaningful than wave or rail shooters, and its setting is close enough to the “real world” to make its action all the more immersive.

Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S | 25 GB | $19.99 from Oculus

Journey of the Gods

from Turtle Rock Studios

We’ve all been on our fare share of heroic fantasy quests where the fate of the very world itself hangs in the balance, but we’ve never seen one that looks quite like Journey of the Gods.

This game’s bizarre vistas and weird, angular – and occasionally tentacled – inhabitants are as far from the usual elves and dragons as you can get, with color schemes and creature designs drawing less from the usual European myth than from recent indie games like Hyper Light Drifter and even Sundered.

No doubt the titular Journey of the Gods – and the related quest to save the world or whatever – is plenty compelling, but the setting alone is worth giving this one a look.

Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest | 970 MB | $29.99 from Oculus

Raccoon Lagoon

from Hidden Path Entertainment

Raccoon Lagoon game screenshot courtesy official site
Raccoon Lagoon – screenshot courtesy official site

Based on the title, I was expecting Raccoon Lagoon – from the same studio behind Defense Grid and Brass Tactics – to be nonstop trash pandas. It isn’t, but my disappointment wore off quickly when I realized that it’s actually an incredibly charming farm simulation for VR.

The relaxing rural chores of the Harvest Moon series combine with cute, Pokemon-inspired creatures and a pastoral island setting that gives you plenty to do but doesn’t hurry you along.

This is VR gaming at its most relaxing; go on quests, turn your island into a thriving home…or just take off and spend the day fishing.

Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest | (COMING SOON)

Accounting+

from Crows Crows Crows

So happy to see the continued success of the wacky stuff: Accounting+ comes with tremendous game dev pedigree – William Pugh (The Stanley Parable), Dominik Johann (Minit) and Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty).

The game started as a jam, but has ballooned/blossomed into a much bigger experience in its two years. It also has a killer soundtrack. Give yourself a little Dada, Po-Mo joy and hop into this zany world. You will laugh. Your mouth will be agape. You will swim in meta. Just do it. Account.

Oculus Quest, Rift, Rift S | 1.93 GB | $11.99 from Oculus

Gravity Sketch

from Gravity Sketch

Excited to see this exacting design tool get the Oculus Quest port treatment. Of course, we don’t like having to pay for stuff a second or third time for device-specificity, but at the same time, we know that devs, investors and Facebook/Oculus have spent money on not only making these ports but improving the experiences in the process. We also note that slowly the prices are coming down from their nose-bleed heights and many of these tools/games are now quite affordable – about the cost of a lunch for two.

Gravity Sketch is not just another Tiltbrush or Quill – it is geared towards creating detailed models, scenes and artwork that can be exported into other design tools, CAD software, game engines, or 3D printing platforms.

It will be amazing to see what the combo of this kind of design software can do when combined with tetherless, free roaming hardware.

Oh and did we mention that it’s a tiny download?

Oculus Quest, Rift, Rift S | 121.6 MB | $29.99 from Oculus

What VR games did you play this month (excluding Beat Saber)?

Video: Author Blake Harris & VR Dev Blair Renaud Debate the Oculus Ecosystem

VRTO 2019: VR & the Road to Now…& Then – feat Blake J. Harris, Blair Renaud, Keram Malicki-Sanchez

In this uncompromising chat set at the VRTO 2019 Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality conference in Toronto, author Blake J. Harris discusses his insights from time spent with with Palmer Luckey during the time Oculus was acquired by Facebook, the future of consoles and concerns around privacy. Indie game developer Blair Renaud dukes it out with VR investor Tipatat Chennavasin about how to price VR games on the Oculus Quest, and everyone gets into the fray to discuss what will ultimately make VR successful in the eyes of the public and the people who invested money and time to get it there.