Launch line-ups can be tricky. On one hand, companies can choose to hit the ground running with a wide range of titles supporting new hardware from the first day, but risk then struggling with drought in the following weeks and months. The other option is to have a smaller line-up with staggered releases, resulting in a less exciting launch day but satisfaction over the long term. Either way, new consoles and systems can really benefit from videogames with a long life span in these early days. In terms of virtual reality (VR), Psytec Games’ Crystal Rift could offer just that with its level editor mode.
VRFocus has covered Crystal Rift on plenty of occasions in the past, talking about the title’s promising single-player campaign in which players trek through environments step-by-step on a square-based grid. But one feature that Psytec Games is finally lifting the lid on with today’s release on Steam Early Access in an extensive level editor, something that it’s shown particular affection for in the past. Having spent some time with this mode, it’s clear to see why the developer is so excited for others to get their hands on it.
Crystal Rift takes a page from the book of LittleBigPlanet in that its level editor is presented in-game. Players are able to effectively lay down new titles of environments piece-by-piece on a 50 x 50 map. A menu hangs overhead allowing for easy navigation between different types of floor, traps, enemies, switches and more which can then be placed in front of the player’s position with the press of a button. Each new addition takes up one square of the grid-based map. It’s essentially a fill in the blanks situation, with the grid already laid out in front of the player, allowing them to decide what sits in a given tile.
This makes Crystal Rift’s level editor fast and accessible; within seconds of starting players will be able to create winding corridors for others to get lost in, and are then able to retrace their steps to pave the way with traps, locked doors and more. Players are given a robust set of tools that will allow them to create just about everything that’s been seen so far on the campaign side. A number of different effects and items can be used to decorate eerie dungeons, allowing players to make their own mark rather than designing simplistic corridors.
The basics are easy to master, then, and it doesn’t take much more to familiarise yourself with more advanced mechanics, either. Switches can be placed just as easily as any other title, and assigning them to doors is a simple as then bringing up a map of your level and using direction buttons to link a given switch to the desired action. It’s even possible to place timers and other effects on such actions to fine-tune the type of challenge you want to give players.
There are some features missing, purely because of the Early Access nature of this release, that hold Crystal Rift’s editor back at this point in time. The biggest omission is the lack of Steam Workshop support, meaning it’s not possible to actually share your creations online at this point in time. This can hardly be held against a title that isn’t fully released, of course, but it does mean that the editor is more for practice in its current state than one of the reasons to jump on board with the title at this point. But, come full release, these issues will have been cleared up, paving the way for a community to freely experiment and share ideas online.
What this gives Crystal Rift, perhaps more than any other VR title gearing up for the Oculus Rift’s launch, is a sense of creativity that can extended longevity and more. It’s not clear what Oculus VR is prepping for its launch line-up, but Crystal Rift could well end up sticking out thanks to this promising addition.