Since the unveiling of Playful Corp.’s Lucky’s Tale for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) it seems as though a number of development studios now have much more faith in third-person virtual reality (VR) experiences. It would be hard to suggest that another developer has come as close to overcoming the hurdles VR presents as Paul Bettner’s youthful team of enthusiasts, but James’s Legacy: The Prologue does do well. A few hurdles still to overcome mind, but erroneous apostrophe use aside Nestoss Corp. has earned a little faith.
Presented in a similar fashion to Super Mario Galaxy, the player traverses an obstacle filled globe with a singular objective. In the case of the very small demo build available for Gear VR, this objective was to construct a lever and lower a bridge. Players can interact with non-player characters in the environment and will be given clues in the form of pictogram speech bubbles, and can bash items to gain power-ups and other bonuses. Few examples of the latter were available in this build however, and attempting to retrieve such items revealed James’s Legacy: The Prologue‘s gravest error.
It seems simple enough. The character remains central on-screen for much of James’s Legacy: The Prologue. Move left, right, up or down and the camera moves with you. As with most 3D Super Mario titles, jump and the camera stays with you also. However, most 3D Super Mario titles aren’t made for VR. In VR, camera control needs to abide by a very strict set of rules; the most important of which is to not take away control from the player without a distinct cut. Our hero’s jump may be a simple and light-hearted platform classic, but adapted into VR it makes a challenge of simply being in that world.
Thankfully the need to jump was minimal in this early build and hopefully Nestoss Corp. will get enough feedback to realise that simply keeping the camera on a familiar incline regardless of the player’s actions is essential. Elsewhere, James’s Legacy: The Prologue promises some deeper multi-level challenges as a reward for completing this early level comes back to the hub area, in which the player is tasked with building new structures that will subsequently change the functionality of the hub. However, the demo build stopped here and no such construction feature was available.
The art style of James’s Legacy: The Prologue is perhaps one of it’s most interesting features, with it’s cuboid presentation standing apart from the likes of Minecraft thanks to bold flat texturing rather than attempting to recreate 8-bit art in a 3D environment. This alone proves that James’s Legacy: The Prologue has the power to be a convincing experience for those unsure of the potential of mobile VR, and as long as Nestoss Corp. iron out the creases they could well have an early Gear VR hit on their hands.