An adventure videogame isn’t an unusual design choice for virtual reality (VR) at present, with the slower pace of the genre and the ability to contain the action within the 180 degrees applicable for a seated experience. However, getting both of these and the other revised spectrum of genre conventions to operate well in VR whilst maintaining an exciting experience for the player. Sadly, FindingVR only manages to get this half-right.
The videogame casts the player in the role of an adventurer in a brightly coloured high fantasy world. Playable with either the Gear VR’s built-in touchpad or a bluetooth controller – and highly recommended for use with the latter – FindingVR throws a single mechanic at the player before sending them into their first dungeon: the player has a hookshot attached to their right arm, and can use this to attach themselves to objects around the world. In the first instance this is used to attach to a Navi-like fairy and propel them across gaps, but it can also be used for grabbing and throwing items, as well as interacting with levers.
This hookshot forms the bulk of FindingVR‘s gameplay loop. Lever puzzles and combat based on the use of the device are generally well placed, though FindingVR occasionally falls into the territory of placing the latter ahead of the former. There are a number of occasions when the player will find themselves having to battle against enemies or explosive items that have managed to get behind them, and given that The Vision Raiders have decided not to include any head movement on the right analog stick – a wise decision to avoid any potential simulator sickness on the Gear VR – the design of these sequences clearly needs more work.
FindingVR isn’t a challenging videogame until it offers less damage-inducing items than there are enemies, at which point the slow movement speed and inherent awkwardness of turning while seated make the experience more irritating than enjoyable. Furthermore, the lacklustre puzzling – typically find an item to gain access to the next room – is hardly a brain tickler until it becomes so obscure that it seems impossible. There’s no middleground in FindingVR, which is more than a little disappointing.
The aesthetic design of FindingVR is perhaps its best quality. Chunky cartoon-esque character models and brightly coloured, detailed environments make for an enjoyable exploration and constantly invite progress to see what could lie behind that locked door. Sadly, the voice acting is simply atrocious. VRFocus would guess that it’s a case of low budget demanding a developer to step in and take on the role of your key quest giver, but it’s both lifeless and at odds with the character presented on-screen.
Soon to become a very prolific genre in VR, The Vision Raiders have managed to get into the adventure videogame scene early with a hit-and-miss affair. FindingVR is at one moment welcoming and the next hugely disappointing. It’s likely to entertain in its first instance but holding the attention of an audience currently benefitting from a flood of new content on Gear VR will be far more difficult. No one ever said that designing an adventure videogame for VR would be easy, but it seems that FindingVR has missed a few beats too many.