It’s been over three years since VRFocus first reported on White Lotus Interactive’s puzzle-adventure title XING: The Land Beyond, and a fair amount has happened in the virtual reality (VR) industry over those following years. This month the videogame will finally see a release for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and by all accounts it’s been worth the wait.
VR platforms are home to a variety of imaginative and complex puzzlers that utilise the technology and motion controls in a mixture of ways and XING: The Land Beyond is no different. For this preview VRFocus got to sample the first level, set on an idyllic, sun drenched beach, with golden sands and crystal clear blue waters. To say it all looks gorgeous is an understatement, in fact you could just use the area as a relaxing chill out zone, almost like some of those meditative VR apps.
It’s that calmness that not only runs through the environment but also in the puzzles. The first few are very easy as you’d expect – mainly finding items to put on pillars or shifting blocks to make a path – with handy (sometimes cryptic) hints dotted around the place should you need them.
An issue with puzzle videogames is that they can often lack depth, so White Lotus Interactive has ensured this isn’t the case with XING: The Land Beyond, offering an almost spiritual storyline which unfolds by finding stone tablets, each one written in rhyme and wonderfully narrated. So the title not only manages to draw you in with interesting puzzles, but also invites you to really explore the environment and uncover its many secrets.
As mentioned XING: The Land Beyond is about exploration and for once there’s no teleportation in sight – which may or may not please some gamers. In both hands are wands, with the right snapping your viewpoint to wherever it’s pointed. While the left purely handles travel. Pressing the touchpad will move you in the direction the wand is facing, allowing complete freedom of movement. It’s a mechanic that works surprisingly well, and because you’re physically and visually seeing where you’re directing yourself the entire process is very comfortable.
What was surprising were the platforming elements. Something very rarely seen in any VR experience without the ability to teleport, there are moments that require jumping across pedestals. A common feature in normal videogames, but in VR, it almost seemed like White Lotus Interactive was trying to induce nausea, even though none actually occurred.
XING: The Land Beyond may not have been designed specifically for VR headsets but you wouldn’t be able to tell. In fact, after sampling the beautiful environments and puzzles playing the videogame on a monitor just won’t seem right. This is certainly one VR experience VRFocus is going to enjoy delving into further.