While many studios are finding their first-steps into virtual reality (VR) development hindered by hardware limitations, movement options and a relatively small audience, there are others with ambitions that stretch beyond these barriers. Nordic Trolls is one such team, opting to dive into the abyss headfirst with a genre experience that could easily prove tricky in the medium: a full-blown co-operative role-playing game (RPG).
Karnage Chronicles is a first-person experience that performs in a similar fashion to the extremely well received Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel. While Indimo Labs’ debut title nails the combination of puzzle solving and combat fairly solidly, Karnage Chronicles has two other ideals up its sleeve: character class divisions and co-operative gameplay.
For those presently unaware, Karnage Chronicles plays much like you’d imagine a VR rendition of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim to, however based on evidence of the early build VRFocus has been hands-on with its significantly more linear. Karnage Chronicles is more about the pacing of the adventure than choosing your own, which is a fair interpretation of the exploration-heavy style of RPG given the relative youth of VR as a medium. The player can choose between two classes at present (though more will be available in the release build); the Warrior and the Archer.
The Warriors is a brute. High on health and damage, but slow to manoeuvre. The basic equipment is a broadsword and shield, which allow for deflection of both ranged attacks and melee assaults while landing heavy blows in close combat. A secondary weapon is a ratchet-based crossbow which has a shorter range than the Archer’s longbow and is painfully slow to reload after your initial three darts have been exhausted; intentionally so, but still an irritation all the same. The Archer however, has a secondary weapon which is much more flexible: two daggers which can be held either way in the palm, allowing for quick swipes through chinks in armour and also for deflection of arrows when precision blocking has been learned.
Of course, the real test of the two characters comes within the co-operative gameplay. Nordic Trolls will launch Karnage Chronicles with two-player co-operative adventuring as standard and are aiming for four-player gameplay options further down-the-line. The videogame’s combat (much heavier in the preview build than puzzle-solving or exploration) will certainly come into its own when like-minded friends rally to take tactical advantage of each classes’ abilities. A boss battle close to the end of the sequence certainly favours one character class over the other currently, though signs are that Nordic Trolls is aware of just how tough this set-piece is at present.
Another advantage which Karnage Chronicles offers over Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel is the visual design. While Indimo Labs has certainly not been slacking in this regard, Nordic Trolls has utilised Unreal Engine 4 to create some spectacular looking environments. The enemy design is limited but suitably menacing in the preview build, with solid well-animated character models creating a believably intense atmosphere.
Karnage Chronicles is aiming to launch via Steam Early Access later this month, with a PlayStation VR edition also in the works. VRFocus enquired about the possibility of cross-platform multiplayer to which Nordic Trolls shyly responded ‘anything’s possible’, refusing to confirm or deny any such ambitions. Of course, VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on Karnage Chronicles and any other VR works from Nordic Trolls.