Kenzan Studios is going big on virtual reality (VR), with four titles currently in production. Based around the recently announced Kenzan Arena franchise, each of these titles will find a place in the out-of-home entertainment sector, but one title, The Lost Pit, will also be coming to Steam.
The selection of titles Kenzan Studios are currently working on for various VR formats and head-mounted displays (HMDs) cover a wide range of demographics. Holiday Break VR is a simple, inoffensive shooting videogame designed for children. Armed with a watergun, the player must shoot chickens, eggs, balloons and more in order to achieve a high-score. It’s a simple but effective introduction to VR, as is Starpirates VR, which is effectively a wave-based shooter with the emphasis on reward over challenge. However, there’s more interesting innovations happening at Kenzan Studios.
EnigmAttic VR is a puzzle experience that requires multiple players. Designed for the Kenzan Arena installations, up to six players are equipped with a HMD, backpack PC and a tracking wand. Using this wand, players must work together to pull-and-push a counter to the desired exit. However, the path that lies ahead of this counter is treacherous: obstacles and narrow ledges can quickly halt your progress.
Each player takes on a unique role in EnigmAttic VR, ranging from a pharaoh to the spirits of a Spartan, Knight or a Samurai, each equipped with a different sceptre or weapon used to guide the counter. These players must move through the real world and virtual environment to ensure that their weapon casts light onto the counter, guiding it with real body movement.
EnigmAttic VR is an interesting concept; while not wholly original, the execution is compelling. Of course, attempting the challenge with a likeminded team is essential., but with the intention to limit play sessions to 15 minutes, the Kenzan Arena could well have a ‘one more go’ experience buried deep within EnigmAttic VR.
The Lost Pit
The Lost Pit is arguably Kenzan Studios’ path to VR primetime. A team-based multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS), Kenzan Studios’ eSports ambitions are obvious for anyone to see. However, it’s the cross-pollination of Kenzan Arena out-of-home installations and a Steam release that brings the most excitement.
A high-end version of The Lost Pit will be available at installations, which offers gameplay for up to 12 players simultaneously, divided into two teams of six with one player on each team mounted atop a motion-simulator which represents a flying bike. In-game, this latter player would have a birds-eye view of the action, relaying orders and advice to their team as they strive to take control of the point-winning platform.
The Steam version of the videogame, expected to launch very soon, will allow up to six players to go head-to-head. The same rules apply – players must choose their weaponry, launch into an arena and attempt to take out their opponents while they secure a designated position – it’s a fairly traditional videogame affair but surprisingly not an experience we’ve seen a great deal of in VR as of yet.
More interesting however, is the prospect of The Lost Pit being supported as an eSports title. There’s a certain level of fitness that would be required to get the most out of the experience, and the combination of in- and out-of-home gameplay opportunities lends itself to this. Imagine using the Steam version as a training regime; taking to the battlefield two-or-three times a week, honing your skills as your prepare to take your abilities out into the real-world, engaging in full-scale tournaments with the full Kenzan Arena experience. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine the wealth of gameplay opportunities – and progressive attitude to VR eSports – that such a comprehensive development philosophy presents.