As a AAA software production company, Crytek’s enthusiasm for virtual reality (VR) can only be matched by one of their direct competitors in the engine space: Epic Games. While both have produced numerous technical demonstrations to showcase the potential of the new medium, the latter is yet to produce a consumer product of any kind. Crytek however, are set to release their second next month.
The company’s first VR release, the Oculus Rift exclusive The Climb, launched back in April of this year. Receiving a mixed response upon its debut, an update is coming soon to allow for compatibility with the forthcoming Oculus Touch controllers; an addition deemed necessary by both the audience and the team behind the videogame. The Climb is worth mentioning in any analysis of Crytek’s next VR title, Robinson: The Journey, as that one key aspect of the videogame – climbing – can be witnessed in full in this second release also.
An adventure videogame of sorts, the preview build of Robinson: The Journey featured a handful of environmental obstacles, one genuine puzzle and a decent amount of exploring. The latter should be taken as the loosest interpretation of the word, as the player is essentially guided along a linear path in this preview, however the wide environment and awe-striking detail gives the illusion of freedom far great than near-any other videogame has ever managed.
Mechanically speaking, Robinson: The Journey will be hard to interpret from words on your monitor. Essentially, the videogame overcomes issues of locomotion through artificial deceleration depending on the incline of the head-mounted display (HMD). For example, if the player is looking downward at a 45 degree angle their movement will be halved; looking directly at the floor will restrict their movement altogether. It sounds odd, but much like Resident Evil 7 biohazard’s on-rails stairs mechanic, it works.
The aforementioned climbing aspect of Robinson: The Journey is taken straight from The Climb’s original control pad variation and is certainly more rewarding as part of a larger experience than as a videogame of it’s own right. Presenting the mechanic as a component used to venture to new territories – opposed to the only mechanic – the climbing gameplay is a clever addition that switches up player momentum.
The key to Robinson: The Journey’s puzzle solving is typically item interaction, which is conducted via gaze control. The flying Navi-inspired accompaniment that follows the player is a guide as to not only the path to take, but also the solution and potential end result of these puzzles. Should you not be paying attention to the often condescending animated paperclip in sci-fi form, you might find yourself puzzled for longer than you should.
Robinson: The Journey is currently expected to launch alongside the PlayStation VR next month, and sits as a title that looks set to become one of the most enduring experiences available in the early days of console VR. Whether or not Robinson: The Journey can fulfil it’s potential in ways that The Climb is yet to do so remains to be seen, but VRFocus is most definitely eager to find out for certain.