National Film & Television School (NFTS) student Ana Ribeiro has earned herself quite a lot of media coverage of late thanks to her inspired take on life as a young female videogame fan in the latter decades of the last century. Pulling from her own experiences of playing videogames from outside the core demographic and struggling to be recognised as a ‘true’ member of the audience, Ribeiro’s videogame has you playing the role of a young girl in each era of videogames from 8-bit through to the turn of the century, all the while developed as an exclusively virtual reality (VR) experience. Pixel Rift is no ordinary student project then, and this shows in the remarkable attention to detail within the videogame.
In VRFocus‘ first preview of Pixel Rift we stated that one of the highlights of the experience was Ribeiro’s passion for not only the subject matter, but also ably burying an abundance of Easter Eggs within. The recently released Halloween Special edition of the demo is exactly that amped-up to the nth degree. The core experience remains the same as the original demo, if a little more polished: as a young teenage girl in class your aim is to complete a level of the handheld Pixel Rift videogame (played on a emulated Game Boy style machine within the VR world) while avoiding being caught by the teacher. In this special edition however, you can be transported to an entirely new version of this world.
Picking up an empty tube from a broken pen you can fire spitballs at your classmates, the teacher, into a bin and more – all triggering animations and Easter Eggs otherwise unattainable. In this new version of the Pixel Rift demo however, trick-or-treaters also appear at the window. One quick and accurate shot into their goodie bin and the world fades, only to return with a dark and decaying version of the class room surrounding you.
In this alternate version of the room you are repeatedly approached by zombies and ghouls, armed only with spitballs to keep them at bay. However, the videogame playable on your handheld device has also changed, and success here will see you rewarded with the new lollipop gun. This heavy weapon acts as a repeater, firing several lollipops in quick succession and with a much smaller reload delay, greatly improving your chances of taking out the undead that are marching on your position. It’s simple, it’s silly and it’s so wholly perfect for Pixel Rift.
Despite the experience as a whole not having changed all that much since VRFocus‘ first time with the videogame the standard of the production values have certainly been raised. There’s still a lot of clipping between polygons and a bit of wonky animation here-and-there, but the voice samples are a significant improvement and some of the new character models are of a very high standard. Pixel Rift feels like it’s marching forward and Ribeiro is shrewdly taking on-board all of the criticism that she’s hearing, improving the videogame at the points where it’s most needed. With more than six months still to go before Pixel Rift is expected to hit digital stores it remains positive that Ribeiro is taking the development of a project that is being watched so closely in her stride, and the hope remains that we’ll eventually see a cult hit on our hands when VR hits the consumer audience.