falcon age

Top New Releases for Oculus Quest – September 2020

September 2020’s Best Releases for the Oculus Quest

Now that we know the Quest will be discontinued for its younger, sleeker, cheaper successor, creatively named the…uh…Quest 2, this almost seems like a fruitless exercise. But we can console (no pun intended) ourselves with the fact that there are roughly 700,000(source) Quest users out there, hungry for new fodder.

Cubism

by Thomas Van Bouwel
Release Date: September 17th, 2020

Essentially a series of Tetris-like puzzles in 3D, Cubism scratches that itch for puzzles that are both thought-provoking and relaxing.

The compulsive need to fit blocks together will have you “playing” this on your inner eyelids as you’re falling asleep, long after you’ve taken off your headset and put your controllers away, but the clean, pastel color scheme and gentle piano score will keep you relaxed enough that your waking Cubism dreams will be a pleasant experience, not a lingering effect of psychological trauma.

Falcon Age

by Outerloop Games
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020

Falcon Age was a pretty cool indie game release, but it clearly always wanted to be a VR title. That has now become…er…reality. We love the story, the setting and the central concept here. As a young revolutionary on a dying planet, it’s your job to fight against the oppressors and bring freedom to your people.

It’s not all grim and political, though, because you have a bird friend, and you can put a hat on the bird!

In all seriousness, Falcon Age really does do a wonderful job combining cute bits – the falcon uses her beak to put the hat on! Sometimes she also wears glasses! – with sci-fi Western robot-fighting action, and the combat, which involves both falconry and an electric whip, is more innovative and interesting than the typical double-wielded pistol VR developers usually settle for. Also, learning increasingly nuanced behaviors that you can teach or understand about your Falcon creates what feels like a true relationship with the avatar.

Sphere Toon – VR Comic

by Studio HORANG
Release Date: September 10th, 2020

Just in time for Halloween, Sphere Toon is here to offer you loads of scares. This free program acts as a platform for the animated supernatural horror comics of Studio HORANG in Korea.

There are currently eight short, sweet web-comics available in English, weighted toward ghost stories with titles like Ok-Su Station Ghost, Bongcheong-Dong Ghost and Ghost in Masung Tunnel, plus loads more Korean-language material.

Holopoint: Oculus Edition

by Alzan Studios
Release Date: September 10th, 2020

Holopoint was a game that we returned to over and over again on the now-venerable HTC Vive. Now, on the tether-less Quest, it all makes so much more sense.

If Beat Saber is a physically active game with Star Wars influences, Holopoint takes things back to one of George Lucas’s original Jedi inspirations: the venerable Samurai epic. In fact it predates Beat Saber!

You’ll barely have time to appreciate the minimalist but beautifully presented Kyudo dojo, though, because you’ll be firing arrow after arrow, hoping to defend yourself against that last wave of swordsmen before keeling over with exhaustion.

Void Racer: Extreme

by Coplanar Games
Release Date: September 17th, 2020

Look no further than Void Racer: Extreme to get your fix of arcade hoverbike racing action…if you’ve got the legs for it.

Inspired by franchises like Wipeout and F-Zero, Void Racer features over a hundred levels, a dozen tracks – with individual comfort ratings, if you’re the type who gets motion-sick while riding hoverbikes – plus multi-player modes.

And of course, there are weapons to take out rival racers, if speed alone isn’t quite giving you the adrenaline rush you need.

What were your favorite new Quest releases in September 2020? What did you think about Facebook Connect? Will you buy a Quest 2? So many questions….

Karnage Chronicles splash image

Karnage Chronicles VR Review

Karnage Chronicles header

TITLE: Karnage Chronicles
GENRE: Action, Adventure, RPG
DEVELOPER: Nordic Trolls
PUBLISHER: Nordic Trolls
RELEASE DATE: July 31st, 2020

Karnage Chronicles is a classic fantasy adventure game in which the goals are to collect treasure, complete quests and generally survive a world jam-packed with murderous creatures.

Kavernous Karnage

It takes place in a rocky cave setting peppered with over-sized organic plants and minerals and mushrooms, all of which are breathing or swaying or glowing. The ground itself – when you first log in – is the least believable aspect. But once you get into the game and are looking out for enemies and coins, you no longer notice the ground.

The plants and mushrooms are familiar but alien in their luminescence. They give tangible life to the environment.

Karnage Chronicles Mushrooms and skulls

The NPCs in the game are similar in style and reminiscent of The Dark Crystal – Jim Henson’s 1980s fantasy, life-sized mechanical puppetry. The usual cast of characters is present: trolls, goblins and wizards. There are also handsome, lion-like wolves which I regretted having to kill and pretty – but truly terrifying – giant spiders, as well as extra aggressive bees which I mistook for mosquitoes.

The sound is visceral and presence-inducing – cavelike dripping and echoing – and when the whispers and the music come in, it increases the tension and suspense. There are both menacing sounds and satisfying ones, like the sword cutting through the air with a swoosh.

Kumulative Karnage

As is common in VR, you can choose to move by gliding forward or teleport ahead in jumps. Jumping is less taxing on the brain (in terms of cumulative nausea), and you can see a shell of your armored character ahead as you advance into each jump.

There is a wealth of options in terms of levels and paths and portals, and it seems you could play for weeks. The incessant battling has the potential to become monotonous – as in Hobbit 1, 2, and 3 – but Karnage is the name of the game.

The adventuring, collecting, and discovering part is quite enjoyable, and though I played alone, I imagine it would be even more so with friends.

The gameplay is intuitive and the weapons are extremely effective. It is so fun to physically pull the bow and shoot an arrow that really flies and hits the mark – or doesn’t. (The trolls can duck really well.) Either way, it brings you right into the cave and into the game.

You carry all the items you find and collect on a belt that you can hide and unhide.

Komedy Miskalculations

One word of caution to whoever writes the script: girls might like to play this game, too, and gratuitous jokes about female anatomy – even very small jokes – can serve to alienate and subtly say “this world is for boys.” Not to mention what it says to the boys.

The default – and really only – character gender is male. Some choice would be nice. But, at least respect for all humans and players is, in itself, valorous.

Karnage Chronicles combat

Karried off into a Fantasy World

It is like a lot of treasure-seeking adventure/battle games. It has all of the same elements – quests, keys, weapons, potions, puzzles, food to nourish you, foes to battle, challenges to face – but the medium of VR raises the stakes and the visceral quality.

Even though it is classic fantasy fair, there is a real sense that you are actually gathering when you scoop things up and collect them; there is a sense of danger, knowing that any kind of terrifying creature might run at you from behind a rock. And when you are fighting in battle, you are right in there.

Karnage Chronicles puzzles

There were a couple of times when I was exchanging arrows from a distance with an enemy, and I felt just like I was inside a movie. When he shot at me, I could actually jump behind a pillar and then jump out to quickly aim my arrow at him before he got a chance to shoot again. That was amazing.

A little bit later, when the giant spiders jumped on my head, I screamed out loud and had to pull off the headset as they piled on top of me. A great game for lovers of the fantasy genre – and for those who like to battle and quest.

-Pearl Hyacinth

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Outstanding New Oculus Releases for Summer 2020

Great New Oculus Releases for the Weirdest Summer Ever

No world is out of reach. Grab your headset and let these enchanting worlds come to life with this month’s titles.

The Line

by ARVORE Immersive Experiences
Release Date: July 9th, 2020

Winner of “Best VR Experience” winner at the Venice Film Festival, The Line is set inside a miniature model of São Paulo, Brazil in the 1940s and features narration by Rodrigo Santoro of Westworld fame.

As you fiddle with machinery and twiddle with knobs in this 20-minute roomscale experience, you’ll reveal an unlikely love story between two miniature dolls.

Paper Beast

by Pixel Reef, published by Plug In Digital
Release Date: July 24th, 2020

Explore a beautiful, strange and beautifully strange world of artificial life – a new ecosystem evolving in hidden spaces deep inside the Internet – in Paper Beast, the newest creation from Another World creator Eric Chahi.

Paper Beast offers two games modes, a puzzle-based adventure and a sandbox, but the real star here is the environment, populated by (artificially) intelligent creatures resembling something like a cross between Wayne Douglas Barlowe’s alien animals and ’90s visions of cyberspace.

Add the ability to alter the landscape, plus a soundtrack featuring Japanese punk trio TsuShiMaMire and electronic producer Roly Porter, and we’re more than intrigued, we’re obsessed!

The Under Presents: The Tempest

by Tender Claws
Release Date: July 6th, 2020

The Tempest is the latest interactive live theatrical adventure from The Under, a multi-player VR experience from Tender Claws, and gives players the chance to work magic with Prospero in an innovative new approach to the Shakespeare classic. (In order to participate, players will need to purchase a ticket and set a showtime, as this is a “live” experience, running through September.)

Also available: Timeboat!, a single-player adventure about an arctic research ship, complete with time travel and a mysterious dolphin.

Layers of Fear

by Bloober Team S.A.
Release Date: July 9th, 2020

Much as we enjoyed the original 2016 release, Layers of Fear is even better in VR. Drawing less on jump scares than atmosphere to create its sense of dread as it puts players behind the eyes of a troubled painter losing his grip on reality as he tries to create his masterpiece.

As perception blurs the lines between reality and hallucination, the artist’s mansion seems to rearrange itself, doors disappearing and reappearing in different places, oil paint dripping from the walls like blood, and artistic genius dances a minuet with madness.

Its very premise makes this one part psychological horror and one part virtual art gallery (albeit a gallery for those who prefer Francis Bacon and Francisco Goya to Manet or Monet).

Enjoy the art, and remember that paintings can’t hurt you…or can they?

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted

by Steel Wool Studios
Release Date: July 16th, 2020

On the other hand, maybe jump scares are your thing! In that case, check out Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted, bringing the ridiculously popular franchise to the Oculus Quest with a collection of both classic and brand new mini-games set in your favorite twisted pizza parlor.

It’s particularly poignant as hundreds of Chuck E. Cheese’s are now being shut down, likely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the already creepy and wonderful animatronic mouse and his colleagues upon which this insanely popular indie hit is based are now littering desert landfills nationwide. (Someone save them!)

Featuring updated scenes from Five Nights at Freddy’s 1 through 4 as well as Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, this collection makes hiding from murderous animatronic animals more visceral than ever.

Personally, if I were hired as a night repairman for a pizza restaurant, I’d probably quit after the first night of being chased by a killer Chuck E. Cheese knock-off – nostalgia for good times past or not – but your mileage may vary.