Preview: Solitaire Jester for Gear VR

Solitaire in virtual reality (VR). You might not think there’s much more to say about this debut effort from Stockholm-based developer, Resolution Games, named Solitaire Jester. After all, some VR experiences really are as simple as ridding the player of the need for physical objects. In this case it’s a pack of cards; replace them with virtual ones on the Gear VR mobile head-mounted display (HMD) and you’re ready to go. But it would be a disservice to the developer not to mention what a polished version of a classic card game this is shaping up to be, and point out some unique benefits it represents.

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Resolution Games’ take on Solitaire is set within a cosy study with a desk in front of the player. A crackling fire lights the far side of the well-kept room, revealing shelves of books and even some small Easter eggs for anyone that’s visited the developer’s website since its launch earlier this year. To one side of the player sits the titular toy jester that follows their movements. It’s a peaceful scene, no doubt exactly what the developer intended it to be. Appearing on Gear VR, it’s easy to see this being an ideal environment to slip away into on a flight, though a choice of settings would certainly be welcomed.

The rules of Solitaire itself haven’t changed; players still need to get each card in a deck onto Foundation piles in order of suit and rank. Intriguingly, Resolution Games has opted for a hands-free approach to the game, allowing players to select cards to move by simply looking at them. After a few seconds, any card that can be moved with automatically make that transition. If a card can’t move then the player will be unable to shift it at all. The result in a straight up adaption of the classic game with no room for mistakes on the player’s part.

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This hands-free approach isn’t something that should be quickly dismissed. There are a number of Gear VR titles that should be providing this option along with the more common approach of tapping on the HMD’s touchpad. It may sound like a small number, but head-tracking control opens VR up to a new audience of disabled players that don’t have use of their hands, and Resolution Games should be commended for utilising an inclusive control scheme, however intentional. It’s an app that may enable some to enjoy a game that they couldn’t enjoy in real life.

That said, there are some drawbacks to Solitaire Jester‘s strict rule set. Tabletop Simulator recently released on PC and with it a reminder that adaptions of classic games don’t necessarily need to adhere to the rules. Perhaps the better idea would have simply been to hand players a virtual pack of cards and allow them to player what they want with them. Still, as it stands this looks to be a perfectly adequate way to pass some time in VR, perhaps even more so than many of the relaxation-style apps that have been released over the past few months.

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