Category Archives: Oculus Game Reviews

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

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)?

Top 5 Oculus Releases – Jan. 27th-February 2nd – Sails, Six-Guns and Steampunk

A little of everything this week, from third-person action to sailing sims. And instead of the usual generic wave shooters, fans of VR gun-play – and bow-play, for that matter – have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, with several new games arriving that actually manage to innovate with new approaches to storytelling, locomotion and the shooting itself:

VR Regatta – The Sailing Game

from MarineVerse

VR Regatta - The Sailing Game - screenshot courtesy Steam
VR Regatta – The Sailing Game – screenshot courtesy Steam

One of the things we love about VR is how it can let us experience things we might not otherwise have access to. For VR players without memberships at their local yacht clubs, there’s VR Regatta, a realistic sailing simulator that’s been garnering positive Steam reviews from both gamers and actual sailors.

The fact that this one isn’t recommended for players susceptible to motion sickness probably goes without saying.

Oculus Rift | $14.99 from Steam

Cold Iron

Catch & Release, LLC

Cold Iron game screenshot courtesy Steam
Cold Iron – screenshot courtesy Steam

The opposite side of the wave shooter coin, Cold Iron is a dueling game: instead of endless waves of enemies, players outdraw and gun down opponents one at a time.

While the drawing and shooting mechanics are garnering positive reviews, we’re also intrigued by the narrative thread and its “Weird West” setting – basically cowboy stuff with supernatural elements – which we’re betting has a good chance at overtaking steampunk as the fantasy setting du jour.

Oculus Rift | 3 GB | $19.99 from Oculus or from Steam

Seek & Destroy – Steampunk Arcade

from GamestormVR

Seek & Destroy - Steampunk Arcade - screenshot courtesy Steam
Seek & Destroy – Steampunk Arcade – screenshot courtesy Steam

And speaking of steampunk, Seek & Destroy – Steampunk Arcade gives you all the brass robots, gear-driven mechanisms and Tesla-inspired lightning gloves you could possibly hope for, if you’re a fan of science fiction Victoriana. At heart it’s a wave shooter, but with level names like “Panic in the Streets of London” and “Kick in the Crown Jewels,” we like that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It’s also compatible with the 3dRudder foot controller to make dodging steam-driven automatons all the more realistic.

Oculus Rift | 8 GB | $5.99 from Steam

KIN

from House of Secrets

KIN game screenshot courtesy official site
KIN – screenshot courtesy official site

Previously released on Gear VR, this overhead-view platformer set on an alien planet marks developers House of Secrets’ leap from VR music videos to games proper.

Both the combat and the 3D puzzle-solving in KIN look engaging, and we particularly like the contrast between the light, airy quality of the main character – and the enemies she encounters – and the clunky but colorful low-poly environments to explore.

Oculus Rift | 8 GB | $14.99 from Oculus

Down to Dungeon

from Far North Entertainment

Down to Dungeon game screenshot courtesy Oculus
Down to Dungeon – screenshot courtesy Oculus

Simple cartoonish graphics belie the depth of this fast-paced dungeon crawler for Gear VR. Played from a third-person overhead perspective, Down to Dungeon offers plenty of procedurally generated levels and hordes of enemies to dispatch – not to mention loads of loot – for discerning action RPG fans.

Gear VR | 205 MB | $2.99 from Oculus

Other Noteworthy Oculus Releases

In Death

from Solfar Studios

In Death game screenshot courtesy Steam
In Death – screenshot courtesy Steam

This Early Access archery game interests us both with its innovative approach to VR locomotion in VR – involving teleportation arrows fired from the same bow used to dispatch enemies – and its gothic architecture.

Oculus Rift | 6 GB | $19.99 from Oculus or from Steam

In the Cloud: VR Afterlife

from Future Lighthouse

In the Cloud: VR Afterlife game screenshot courtesy Oculus
In the Cloud: VR Afterlife – screenshot courtesy Oculus

Somewhere between in interactive vignette and a short film, In the Cloud: VR Afterlife is an excursion into cyberpunk/transhumanist paranoia that will appeal to those of us who used to read Mondo 2000.

Gear VR | 65 MB | FREE from Oculus

Baby Hands

from Chicken Waffle

Baby Hands game screenshot courtesy Steam
Baby Hands – screenshot courtesy Steam

Almost literally a sandbox, Baby Hands lets you fill the shoes – and tiny, destructive hands – of a toddler. Family-friendly but legitimately funny, given all the options for mayhem available even now in Early Access.

Oculus Rift | 5 GB | $24.99 from Steam

Check back next week for more Oculus releases.