Preview: Wayward Sky

Uber Entertainment’s Wayward Sky has an interesting history. The Washington based developer’s eagerness to jump into virtual reality (VR) originally saw the title unveiled as Ikarus, a Gear VR exclusive videogame, before realising their ambitions stretched beyond the limitations of the mobile hardware. The result of this is a cancellation of that original release and the project being moved to the PlayStation 4 under the name of Wayward Sky, now being developed exclusively for Project Morpheus.

Billed as a ‘look and click’ adventure videogame, Wayward Sky is an interesting juxtaposition of third- and first-person interaction. The bulk of the experience – at least in the demonstration version VRFocus has been hands-on with – takes place from an almost isometric view, with the player using the PlayStation Move to highlight a spot on the ground or object and pressing the Move button to command their on-screen avatar to move to it.

Wayward Sky screenshot

Objects that can be interacted with are highlighted white as the player moves their cursor over it, and one of two exchanges typically occur. The first is simple: a button will be pressed, lever will be pulled, or other direct interaction that doesn’t pull away from the standard view. The other initiates a quick fade to black, which reopens with a first-person view.

The first-person interaction mimics real-world properties. The player must use the PlayStation Move to grab objects in the space, utilise them to open pathways ahead or remove potentially hazardous obstacles. For example, pulling a lever and rotating a crane to lift a container, then turning the wheel to move the container out of the way. It’s simple and intuitive, and as one would assume that this demonstration is in fact the opening section of Wayward Sky, that’s exactly what it needs to be.

Wayward Sky is a bright and colourful videogame, making good use of the PlayStation 4’s visual capabilities without draining resources and resulting in the dreaded framerate drops that can kill enjoyment of VR experiences. In VRFocus‘ time with Wayward Sky, it appeared to be an extremely comfortable design; never once asking the player to perform any extreme or rapid head movements but still allowing them to adapt their view and explore the area without too much concern for the safety of their on-screen avatar. Much of the demo played at a relaxing pace, which is certainly beneficial to those stepping into VR for the very first time.

Wayward Sky screenshot

Wayward Sky isn’t about to change the rules of VR videogame development, but as an interesting point-n’-click genre adaptation it’s certainly covering new ground. Uber Entertainment have set themselves a considerable challenge in ensuring that the title can offer a number of hours of puzzling gameplay without resorting to cheap tricks or ‘try object with every item’ style solutions, but Wayward Sky is a promising example of where the genre can be taken in VR even in these very early stages of the technology’s adoption.

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