As one of the free bundled videogames to be included with the HTC Vive head-mounted display (HMD), Fantastic Contraption from Northway Games is another example of the platforms creative ability alongside Tilt Brush. With the HMDs immersive Room Scale tracking system the title mixes colourful puzzles with simple building mechanics to get players to think outside of the box.
And Fantastic Contraption is simple in its premise. You have three building options available, a cylindrical motor, a wooden beam, a balloon beam and that’s it. Using these three objects you’ll be able to concoct a myriad of weird and wonderful designs to complete each puzzle. And it’s through you own ingenuity that is the key to success, as the contraptions you build might be completely different to another players design.
The videogame is like Lego for adults, but rather than just building an object it has to perform a roll. And this roll is to get a pink orb from your starting position to a pink block some else on the level. Easy to begin with, Fantastic Contraption lets you get accustomed to the intricacies of what does what before throwing the real challenges at you. And there’s a lot, the title features 50 levels to get your head around.
So what do you build? The videogame leads you gently with a tutorial to build a pre-designated contraption, indicating how each object can be used. The motor is the heart of everything you’ll create, and has four different options depending on how you wish to use it. It has forward momentum and reverse when horizontal, and when vertical can turn left or right, with the direction of travel clearly indicated by arrows inside the unit as well as a colour change. While the wooden and balloon beams link everything together. These can be stretched or shrunk according to purpose. The balloons can also be popped with pins should your device require it. And it all fits together very quickly, with little orbs found at the end of the beams and on multiple points on the motor.
Outside of the levels the menu is accessed by putting on what looks like a space helmet. In this section you’ll find a map of the level you’re currently on, a level select function and online options. As with the rest of the title all of these options have a nice interactive twist, the level select for example has ten level icons sat on a rotating table, this can then be spun to reveal more. If you want to play one simply pick it up and drop it on to the map your currently playing to change it. Another interesting feature is the ability to save your designs for others to see and use. Pick your design up from the map and place it on the central hub to share it with other players across the world. This also proves useful if you’re stuck on a particular level as you can grab other players designs to see how they overcame a tricky puzzle.
Every aspect of Fantastic Contraption has been designed around this fun interactive element. The bright bold design aesthetics and intuitive gameplay all lend themselves to an addictive videogame that wants you to get involved. The only downside is that at points it can be too simple. Players may find having only a small selection of building tools restrictive, but that’s also where the challenge lies. There’s hours of enjoyment to be had with Fantastic Contraption and its a worthy title to be included in the launch bundle.