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Preview: Loading Human

Virtual reality (VR) experiences aren’t hard to come by these days. Despite the fact that there is currently no mass market headset available every indie developer and his dog seem to be working with the Oculus Rift headset, or at least adding ‘VR compatible’ to the homespun list of bulletpoints on their sales sheet. But to be truly convincing of the power of VR a videogame has to be something else; not just developed for VR for the sake of it, but built from the ground-up with VR in mind. Sometimes a little just isn’t enough.

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Untold Games are creating a unique experience designed for (but not exclusive to) the Oculus Rift headset and motion-control input. The preview build available to VRFocus utilised Razer’s ill-fated Hydra, though the final build will support Sixense’s STEM and other devices. However, at this point the concern isn’t about which controllers will be supported or whether or not that infamous screen door effect will affect the player’s immersion, but whether or not Untold Games can achieve the lofty ambitions that they have set for themselves.

In Loading Human you enter the role of a novelist, Andre Gibson. A successful individual with a wonderfully stylish home, a loving, Nobel Prize-winning wife and more opportunities for happiness than most people experience in an entire lifetime. However, while this moment in time seems perfect, there is a flaw. Gibson is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A slow deterioration of memory that has panicked your wife. She doesn’t fear for your safety as such, but rather the safety of your life together. And she has taken drastic steps to protect this.

You enter the videogame and are directed to venture downstairs to meet with your wife. This direction comes from many different sources – communication with other characters, objects within the world or even your own internal monologue – and at all times the objective is obvious, even if the pathway or solution may not be. This is where Loading Human carves it’s niche: it’s a puzzle structure that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a point-n’-click videogame, but the solutions to the puzzles will be familiar to everyone.

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In Loading Human you take full control of your character; not just head and feet, but arms and hands also. You can grab objects, examine them and even throw them through the direct exertion of force which is then enacted upon them in the virtual space. Remove a record from it’s sleeve by grabbing it and sliding it out. Open a lock by inserting the key and turning it. Fire a gun by pulling it’s trigger. Loading Human is the definition of VR that we all learned in the 1980s finally coming to fruition some 30 years later.

The preview build was just a small slice of what Loading Human will offer – the opening section of the videogame, no less – with the full experience promising to challenge the player’s perception of what it means to be human. The final product is currently expected to be available around the same time as the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset itself, and VRFocus will of course keep you updated as the development of Loading Human progresses.