So, my site has been dead for awhile. Why? Because I don’t have viewers. Why? Because I don’t make content! So to avoid a chicken or egg issue here I’m just going to start making posts!
So What has been eating my time recently? The Vive. The HTC Mothafuckin’ Vive. It’s a VR headset. It’s awesome. It has roomscale interactions with Not-yo-momma’s-wiimote motion controllers. You put this thing on, and sure you can see the screen, but you will lose yourself in another world. So now that I’m done gushing about how awesome this tech is, let’s get to the games! As of right now, there’s a total of 238 games on Steam for VR use. Not all of these are Vive only, and not all of them require or support the motion controllers. But suffice to say, for the headset just today beginning to hit actual retail shelves (I’ve had mine for a month now), that’s an impressive lineup!
Today we will be looking into the first game to really make me feel immersed in not just the environment itself (Most roomscale games pull that off perfectly) but the first game to really feel like it had some meat to it story-wise and pull me in. That game is “The Gallery – episode 1: Call of The Starseed”. Long name aside I really enjoyed this game. Let’s get started!
(Spoilers will be at the end of this paragraph, with a warning beforehand):
In The Gallery Episode 1: Call of The Starseed (CoTS from now on because holy crap that’s a long name!) puts you in the shoes of Alex (I think?) a guy who’s sister went missing on some beach. The time-period feels like maybe the early to mid 90’s. You are trying to find your sister, and it seems you and your sister must have been mystery hunters or something, and got led down a crazy rabbit hole. Your sister was on the trail of… something, leaving you clues along the way to follow in her footsteps. The main clues and story drivers are the Tapes she leaves behind, a dairy of sorts she made while discovering what this strange island hides.
During your journey, you encounter a strange and slightly mad scientist who knew your sister and apparently helped lead her to .. whatever she found. Through the mazes you go and you finally find what she had discovered. The Starseed. A device that can, and does, take you to the stars. where you discover all is not well with your sister, and that you are in grave danger.
The Sister character is believable, but the Scientist guy just seemed like a bad parody character. Like Rick from Rick and Morty if he were shoved into a serious drama, and less funny and interesting.)
Almost all games for VR right now will leave you a bit disappointed graphically. This is due to the GPU requirements for rendering a high res game, twice. That said this is one of the most polished games out right now graphically. It has a style to it that I really liked, and it is very detailed comparatively. It also has plenty of options to bump up the antialiasing and stuff if you happen to have beastly GPUs.
The game is a puzzle adventure game of sorts. Though I would say its more walking around than solving puzzles (with one maddeningly notable exception). You teleport around (“Blink” as they call it) and pick up important items along the way. The game uses a very fun inventory system, which although sometimes a bit finicky, is awesome and I love it. You have a backpack on your back, you simply reach back and pull the trigger to grab your bag. You then place it in front of you where it floats in space for you to drop items in and out. It’s very intuitive once you try it. Items involving interactions all seemed really well done. The Zippos flip open with momentum, the flare gun opens to be reloaded in a natural way, and the tape player works as expected, simply slide in a tape and it’ll start playing.
There are a few points of the game though that seemed unpolished to me.
(Spoilers) There’s a part where the mad scientist is throwing some fuses at you and you are supposed to catch them. This would be hard enough if it worked well. But not only does it not work reliably at all, but the scientist also likes to throw other items at you to distract you. this part which was supposed to take only a few seconds, a minute, tops, took me a full 20 minutes. It was maddening. This part of the game was followed by yet another somewhat buggy part. You have to fill in a grid of fuses to activate a security system. The numbers of the resistance on each wire has to reach a certain amount. The resistance amount of each wire is either guessed or found in hints the level (I had to guess two of the wires). And the wires are crossing and zigzagging all over the place. The puzzle is hard, but it’s a good hard. Challenging, but the gameplay mechanic for filling in the puzzle is just annoying. You have to grab these fuses, which are all floating around in zero gravity, and getting caught on various things. some just seem to get stuck and you can’t find them. I had to restart this puzzle 3 times. And the puzzle itself, without the bugs, still would have taken a good 20 minutes (In total I spent an hour and a half on this puzzle. I almost gave up).
This delay is a bit of a good thing, though, as the game is otherwise very short. this can be excused given how new the Vive is and how short a time most games for it have been in development. But it was definitely a let down to reach such a cool lead-in and then see credits roll. That is a testament to how good this game is. I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best story-driven experiences you can get on the Vive right now.
Overall: 7.5/10 – I highly recommend this game be on the list for anyone who owns a Vive. It’s one of the best out. I docked a half a point due to the bugs I did encounter, but I think these will be sorted out. Play this game.