Solfar Studios first entered the virtual reality (VR) space with a videogame/app called Everest VR. More of an educational VR experience where you learnt about the mountain’s history and those that climbed it whilst being able to view magnificent views across the Himalayas, the developer has certainly taken a different approach to its next project. Only announced in December 2017, In Death is much more of your classic videogame, with a medieval design, nasty creatures, and just a bow for company, Solfar Studios isn’t planning on making this experience a simple walk down a mountain.
It must be something to do with a bows interaction that makes it a good weapon to use in VR. The weapon appears everywhere – most recently in VRFocus’ preview of Apex Construct – yet it’s certainly not the easiest to master when you consider more modern guns. This maybe why developers like using it, that sense of drama when you’re being rushed by multiple enemies and those arrows just can’t be fired fast enough. This will happen many times during In Death. Each run through is procedurally generated so there’s no knowing what’s lurking in each corridor or room until you put your head in and see. At which point you could be clawed to death, find an arrow whizzing through the sky towards your face, or some other gruesome end.
In Death is not your usual fun, whimsical adventure where you can do your stats up slowly, learn the lay of the land and hopefully make it to the next checkpoint. Because there are no checkpoints, no joy to be had, no taverns to rest your weary head in, it’s survival at its deadliest. As previously mentioned In Death is procedurally generated, once you die that’s it you’ve got a whole new world to explore, just this time it’s a little harder. Luckily your account progression is saved via unlocked achievements, so pick up more health or certain items and they’ll still be there next time – just don’t expect to unlock everyone on one play through.
If you hadn’t realised by now In Death isn’t easy, having a similar gameplay ethic to Dark Souls. You need to have patience and a good aim to succeed. It doesn’t have the really dark, gothic feeling like other of this ilk due to the massive castle you’re roaming around in floating in the sky, so there’s plenty of light and fluffy clouds around. Inside some of the buildings it’s a different story, with some areas drenched in darkness, with only a moan or foot shuffle indicating anything is there.
Not only has Solfar Studios created a videogame that’s looking visually good, In Death is one that’s easy to handle. The bow isn’t cumbersome to use, so when you do get a horde of enemies approach, firing off a few arrows in quick succession should be fairly easy. You’ll also be glad to hear that locomotion is well catered for. Rather than pulling the trigger to cock a normal arrow, pressing the ‘B’ button on Oculus Touch will bring up a teleportation arrow instead. Or there’s the teleportation shard which appears in your hand for quicker movement. Lastly, there is of course free locomotion – unlockable in the menu – for those that want it. In fact VRFocus found careful use of all three was very good in certain situations with multiple enemies.
For a title that’s in Early Access In Death already feels like the finished article. Seeing that it looks good and plays smoothly – no bugs or glitches presented themselves – Solfar Studios has already done a commendable job, certainly attracting the interest of the more hardcore Oculus Rift player base. As Early Access continues VRFocus will definitely keep a keen interest in In Death’s development.