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Preview: Glitchspace

Virtual reality (VR) can be a confusing and disorientating technology for many. The idea of being removed from your real-world location and entering one made entirely of polygons, sprites and textures is alien to all but the most ardent fans of the technology, so some adjustment is to be expected. Space Budgie have gone one further though, placing the demands on the player beyond that of the hardware and instead exercising their right to mentally challenge.

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Glitchspace is a confusing videogame. Its learning curve isn’t just about being in a science-fiction world of stark whites and bold reds entirely removed from our own – that element is a design trope that VR fans will have become accustomed to by the time Glitchspace arrives with us in full (Early Access available now) – but in that of its puzzles. Glitchspace may look like a fairly traditional first-person shooter with an unusual aesthetic, but this simply couldn’t be further from the truth.

The core of Glitchspace‘s gameplay cycle is logical puzzles. Suggesting that these challenges typically rely on examination and subsequent execution of mathematic equations would be simplifying the experience beyond recognition. Glitchspace enthuses about the logic undergone in programming language, and while the player need not know their C++ from Assembly, they must be keen to learn the many implications of each piece of arithmetic that Glitchspace provides.

This starts as simple as addition and subtraction. Need to raise a plane in order to cross a chasm? Simply use the addition algorithm alongside a suitable number. Lowering the terrain can be performed with the reverse function. Widening and reducing width, expanding and reducing surface area; adding a bounce function? That’s where things become complicated.

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Glitchspace‘s puzzles are self-contained. Much like Valve’s critically-acclaimed Portal series – arguably a key inspiration for Space Budgie – early rooms hold a challenge (or short series thereof) which are restricted to a single solution. As the player progresses new components are thrown into the mix – multiplications and other enhancements – that are quickly added to the full repertoire before full exposition of all the components in subsequent rooms. It’s a tried-and-tested progression system, and one that proves to be rewarding without the need for expensive animated sequences or breaks in the flow of gameplay.

As things stand Glitchspace is a unique VR experience, promising to deliver a world removed from reality but with challenges that hinge upon it. Its unique art style lends to interpretation well and the player is never without indication of what they must do; the challenge is always in the execution of equations that will allow them to pass. Whether or not Glitchspace can keep this keen momentum running for several hours remains to be seen, but given that all the while the player holds a weapon it surely would be remiss to suggest a change-of-pace won’t occur at some point during the finished product.