An empty city lies in ruins. Torn apart by a war of technology with an extra-terrestrial race its citizens never saw coming, the loneliness is as crippling as the oppressive control from the watchmen. Circulating above offering your only source of light as they patrol the streets looking for stragglers left behind in the desolate mess of concrete and steel, all that’s left to do is survive.
This is the situation you find yourself in with Thotwise Games’ teaser for the forthcoming The Hum. It’s a short and highly impressive taste of a videogame with lofty goals. Not just one videogame, in fact, but a whole barrage of media including novels and a potential prequel chapter set to be offered separately. With most virtual reality (VR) projects that have sought finance through a crowd-funding campaign it would be easy to dismiss such ambition as pie-in-the-sky. With The Hum, however, just five minutes in this painterly grim universe is enough to be convinced it warrants such deep exploration.
The demo begins as you are confined within a room. A mattress on the floor and surrounding debris of buckets, food containers and tools suggests you’ve been here a while. This is your home, like it or not. But the time has come. Change is ahead, and only you can be the catalyst for a human retaliation against your alien oppressors.
Of course, in this early demo build, the ins-and-outs of the story have not yet been revealed. Why are you alone? How have you survived? What makes you fit for the task of becoming humanity’s saviour? Right now, all you know is that there’s a wide city out there to explore. Of course, in VR that’s exactly what you’re going to want to do.
The Hum is clearly made for VR, as that exploration is simply beautiful. The chaos of a war the humans had no chance of winning has left the city with a calm, surreal state of ambience. The glow from the patrolling UFOs above and what little electrical light is still available shroud the city with a dank purple coat, filtering out in the mid-distance and limiting your visibility. A green light is emitted from the tallest of buildings, making you feel like a rat scurrying around the debris in the hope of surviving just one more day. Throughout your exploration you’ll be lead along a path to reach an ultimate destination, though the layout is presented in such a way that you never feel as though you’re simply following the piece of string the developers have left for you. This is linear design at it’s finest: so cleverly orchestrated that it could have you believing there’s much more to find than the path you’ve trodden.
Moving through the alleyways, past burned-out cars and debris of the once bustling city now littering the streets, you’ll enter a warehouse containing interesting remnants of some mechanical research. Beyond this lies an even more interesting discovery; one that has the potential to change the course of mankind’s destiny.
The Hum‘s simple demonstration build is a tantalising teaser of the potential of the full videogame. An Oculus Rift demo, compatible with the original development kit (DK1), is now available to download and VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on The Hum‘s universe and other VR projects from Thotwise Games.