With the impending release of the Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality (VR) gaming is growing immensely. As a matter of fact, VR gaming has been growing so much that this year Sony announced their own VR headset, Project Morpheus. I’ve never tried VR gaming and was excited to get my hands on it at E3, so I searched the floor for a booth — any booth — doing demos of a VR game. When I finally found one, I waited in line patiently for my chance to finally experience it, and after sitting down with my first game I was hooked: all I wanted to play were VR games. It is a completely different gaming experience. VR feels like everything we were presented the future of gaming would be in movies in the 90s. You get fully immersed in the world, ostensibly getting lost in the game itself. Some games even have a in-game body you see when you look down — really selling the experience for me, personally. I ran around the floor trying to play as many as I could in between streaming. These were my favorites.
Photo Credit: Pixel Ripped
Pixel Ripped was the game that really blew my mind. It completely immerses you in the world of the game by having you play a video game while in the game itself. (Meta much?) In the Pixel Ripped‘s demo, you are a grade school student trying to play a game on your game boy without your teacher finding out. As you try to play the game, students will whisper to you asking you to do silly things in class. Like making a spitball at the teacher or in the trashcan. The spitball mechanic was simple to do, and is important to get practice with it. As you play the game, you can interact with everything around you. Every student has an animation when you hit them with a spitball. When you finally get back to your game and reach the boss, the game jumps out of your gameboy and has you helping your character fight the boss. You use the spitballs to knock the boss down and let your video game character attack him. You’re controlling them both! You operate the spitball based on your head movements, and the gameboy character with your controller. The coolest part about all of this? It was demoed using a NES controller.
You can actually try Pixel Ripped for free! They have both VR and non VR versions available for download.
Photo Credit: Narcosis
This was the first game I wanted to jump out of. Narcosis is an underwater survival game, that has you scavenging for tools and oxygen. As you travel through an abandoned underwater station you start seeing things and are attacked by underwater wildlife. The game sounds like you’re underwater alone and you are inside a pretty big diving suit. The design of the game does a good job making you feel like you’re really inside a giant diving suit. I felt mildly claustrophobic and worried about my oxygen. The station is extremely dark and requires you to use flares and flashlights to see anything. Movement was extremely slow, making the game even creepier. At one point I turn around and their was another diving suit behind me. I screamed and almost fell out of my chair. David Chen, one of the developers, laughed. “I love it when that happens.” I wanted more than anything to take the Oculus Rift off, stand up, shake his hand, and leave. I had to pull through, though. He was showing off his game and I wanted to see what else there was in store. I sucked it up and pressed on, I eventually walked into a room where I was surrounded by the suits, I was out of flares so I kept bumping face first into them in the dark, silently freaking out each time. Eventually the whole world turned black and the title screen popped up. It was the end of the demo. I shambled away to safety. Scary games have reached a new level.
If you want to learn more about Narcosis and see screenshots visit their site.
LOST VALLEY VR
Photo Credit: Lost Valley VR
The story behind playing this game is pretty funny. This game was in the VR section of the Indiecade booth with Pixel Ripped, but on the first two days I arrived too late. I was busy streaming the first two days, and toward the end of the day they kicked everyone off the exhibit floor before I could give it ago. By the third day, the Paper Crane devs recognized me and jokingly talked about me finally getting the chance to play this game. I sat down, placed the controller in my hand, and as the headset started to be placed on my head Zac ran over and told me Blizzard has come for their interview. (It was a great interview, go check out the rebroadcast on Twitch!) Eventually I came back to the booth and finally had the chance to play, and it was worth the wait. Lost Valley VR is a game that targets more casual players trying to get into VR gaming. You’re a photographer that goes into a portal via boat, and as you travel through the river, you’re tasked with snapping pictures of dinosaurs. Yep, you read that right, you get to get some face to VR face action with dinosaurs. The sound design is awesome, I felt like I was really riding down the river on a calm night watching dinosaurs interact with each other. At the end of the game you’re graded on your photos based on how well you framed the shots. Giancarlo Surla, a developer on the game, says they plan to add more features like swapping out lens. If you’re a fan of photography like me, then you’re already frothing at the mouth.
Want to give Lost Valley VR a try? They have a copy available for download on their site!
While the entry price for VR gaming might be steep ($300 for a Oculus Dev Kit), I believe we’ll get some more affordable options when giant hardware manufactures get into the mix. I’m excited to see where VR takes gaming and entertainment as a whole!
What about you? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments!
Image Credit: Ify Nwadiwe