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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Iron Fish

Many of us want virtual reality (VR) to go deeper. We of course mean that figuratively, expanding on the tech’s current limits and appeal, but we also mean it very literally. VR opens up one of the most fascinating, picturesque and yet deadly areas of our planet, the ocean. With the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) and more we don’t need to strap on diving gear and head out into the unknown to experience the thrill of uncharted waters, we can do it from our own armchairs. Developers are already exploring this to some degree; World of Diving from Vertigo Games allows for multiplayer exploration while Minority Media’s Time Machine VR offers an educational experience.

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But one underwater title that recently caught VRFocus‘ eye is Iron Fish, a unique proposition from the UK-based team at BeefJack. Like World of Diving and Time Machine VR, this first-person experience lets you traverse the unknown, but adds real threats to the proceedings, potentially making it a far more intense experience that the previously-mentioned titles. BeefJack hasn’t mentioned any such VR support yet, but there are a number of elements to this promising title that lead VRFocus to believe it’s worth consideration.

Iron Fish is, at heart, a stealth videogame. While there’s stunning scenery to gawk at and rusty wrecks to get lost in, seeing it all is secondary to survival. Players will face the very real threat of being attacked by packs of sharks while also managing air supplies and locating items. It puts a certain kind of pressure on the player, combining sluggish movement, a lingering sense of dread and a labyrinthine design to create something that could be wholly unique to VR.

The first sign that Iron Fish would be an ideal fit for the tech is in its HUD. While some information is stuck to the screen itself – which would have to change in a VR version – a lot of essentials such as the map are located either on a small device that the player keeps on them as the swim, or on the control panel of the submarine that they can also climb into and commandeer. This could go far to really grounding the experience in VR, creating a very human reaction as players study their air supplies and scour the map for their next objective.

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Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the title thus far is its atmosphere. Iron Fish is a dark, brooding piece that engulfs the player even on a standard screen. Immersing yourself in this world with VR would go the extra mile, making for a completely engaging experience in which you can really feel like you’ve reached areas in which no man has ever visited before. Imagine the claustrophobic feeling of being packed inside the tiny, one-man sub, or staring in awe at the huge wrecks the player will come across with a true sense of their scale that can’t be captured in 2D.

Of course one of the main draws to VR support would be to heighten the sheer sense of terror that players feel when being chased by the sharks. Iron Fish’s brand of beasts are cold, merciless killers that will happily tear through the player should they be spotted. Seeing these terrifying monsters in 3D would certainly amp up the fear factor here, much like with PlayStation VR’s The Deep. This is a survival horror of sorts and any VR fans will tell you that genre excels with the HMD. To then combine it with the atmosphere with Iron Fish gives off as enormous potential.

It remains to be seen if Iron Fish could end up supporting VR; BeefJack hasn’t commented on support either way just yet. But this ambitious mix of horror-esque mechanics, blood-draining atmosphere and fascinating scenery is something we certainly hope to be playing with an Oculus Rift in the near future.