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Preview: Turn On

Despite the relative youth of the modern era of virtual reality (VR) things have come a long way in a very short space of time. This is obviously evident in the continual technological advancement of the hardware, but even more so in the software titles currently in development. Not too long ago it was assumed that VR would only work with a first-person perspective, then Playful Corp.’s Lucky’s Tale proved otherwise. The assumption still remains that a 3D world is required, however Brainy Studio have set their sights on dispelling this myth.

Turn On is a 2D platform videogame aiming to launch on multiple formats, including PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It was the later version that VRFocus experienced first-hand, and immediately were the questions dismissed. VR works for 2D platform videogames just as well as it does for fully 3D first-person exploration experiences. Albeit in a completely different way.

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Taking it’s cues from Rayman Legend, Turn On sees the player controlling a small electrical spark. The spark can move across the floor, but is much faster using electricity cables and telephone lines. Furthermore, each level contains a preset number of blue electricity bolts to collect, which are typically located high above the ground. Players need to be aware of their momentum however, as travelling too fast will often result in colliding with the red bolts, which is less than beneficial.

During these standard levels the player will find many interactive objectives that affect the world in some way; some cosmetic, others creating brand new opportunities. Collecting enough blue electricity blots might power-on a neon sign, but further to this it may create an electrical current strong enough to move a blockage and grant access to an entirely new area. It’s a simple system that, within Turn On‘s relatively small levels, is enticing enough to warrant second or perhaps even third playthroughs in order to see everything each level has to offer.

An altogether different style of gameplay is also present, again inspired by Ubisoft’s rebirth of the Rayman franchise as a very modern 2D platform videogame. As opposed to offering a street-level, slow-paced experience, these alternative levels take place solely in the sky. The player has to ensure that the move between cables in flow with the blue lines of electricity, jumping from cable-to-cable while also collecting the aforementioned blue bolts in order to achieve a high score. The player has relatively little control over their speed on these levels and must act in accordance with the momentum they have built and – just as with Rayman Legends – the tune which their actions aid to complete.

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In terms of VR, Turn On is stereoscopic 3D as standard. However, using a VR head-mounted display (HMD) also afford the player to turn left-and-right and gain an expanded view of the level not available on a standard monitor. This allows for quick glances during moments of respite that can help decide where to place your next leap, setting up your spark for the one after that, or even beyond. It’s a simple and effective use of the benefits VR offers, demonstrative of the Turn On experience as a whole.