Another couple of weeks’ worth of top Oculus releases! This time around, we’ve got larger than life experiences about saving the world (or just saving a music festival’s vibe with some sick beats) sandwiched between more contemplative meditations on love and mental illness.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
from Ninja Theory
A thoughtful and intense exploration of mental illness by way of a hack-and-slash adventure set in the Norse underworld, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was one of our sister site’s Top Indie Games of 2017.
Both its brooding atmosphere and its use of multi-layered narration – representing the auditory hallucinations and self-doubt of a psychotic episode – coupled with an notably excellent motion and facial capture animation process, helped make this a moody work of genius.
Adding VR implementation is the perfect enhancement of its themes and one of the rare times that speaking of VR as a means of guiding players toward embodied understanding actually makes sense.
A warning, though: just with headphones on, this game was intense to the point of disturbing. The added experience of playing it in VR may be too much for some players.
Oculus Rift | 30 GB | $29.99 from Steam
A hyper-designed DJ simulation for electronic dance enthusiasts, Electronauts thinks of everything.
More a musical tool than a game, this experience offers easy song transitions (no worries of beat-matching train wrecks here), remixing and VR-exlusive digital instruments to let aspiring stars create their own arrangements. If you’ve always thought that people like Tiesto and Steve Aoki had a much easier job than they let on, now’s your chance to prove it.
And while the graphics are decidedly vaporwave – not that we have a problem with neon, mind you – the included music is definitely modern, including the likes of The Chainsmokers and DJ Shadow. What Electronauts gets right is that that if favors energy and and flow over literalism. An excellent immersive offering.
Pixel Ripped 1989
from ARVORE Immersive Games, Inc.
If our previous game borrowed a bit from the ‘80s with its look, Pixel Ripped 1989 embraces that decade wholeheartedly. Rubik’s Cubes and Nintendo nostalgia abound in this paean to an earlier era of games.
Its central concept, however, is cutting edge: it’s AR completely within VR, putting players in the role of a little girl with a portable video game device (it’s not quite a Nintendo Gameboy). As the reality from the game she’s playing spills out into her own, she’ll team up with her own game’s protagonist to save both worlds.
It’s a unique and clever use of VR that manages to be self-referential and meta without bashing you over the head about how smart it thinks it is. The setting is just the cherry on top of the sundae, presuming Ready Player One and Stranger Things haven’t burnt you out on ‘80s references by now.
from Pentadimensional Games, SL
Starting with a gloriously over the top premise – you’re playing as a superhero who lobs bombs at giant Independence Day-inspired flying saucers – Megaton Rainfall excels at its sense of scale and detail.
Despite a comparatively short story-driven campaign, there’s as much fun to be had here simply flying off into the wild blue yonder and exploring the universe as there is in defending earthly cities from space invaders.
from Artifact 5
Bringing things in a more earthly direction, Anamorphine isn’t about saving the world, just about dealing with depression and guilt.
The approach to story that the Artifact 5 team has taken, however – wordless narrative comprised of dreamlike and surrealist images to represent the memories of the game’s protagonist – have garnered this release numerous awards, and it’s been a featured selection at IndieCade, E3 and PAX East.
Oculus Rift | 10.4 GB | $19.99 from Steam