Flight School Studio’s 2017 release of Manifest 99 has received significant acclaim from both critics and consumers alike. Featuring in VRFocus’ own ‘Best HTC Vive Games of 2017’ and having been nominated for an Emmy Award, Manifest 99 was an adventure experience with a pre-scripted story wherein the player’s relationship with the world was mostly passive. Island Time however, is an intentionally different kettle of fish.
In Island Time the player finds themselves shipwrecked on a tiny island with only Carl the crab for company. With Carl offering (typically unhelpful) words of advice, Island Time presents a tongue-in-cheek survival experience in which players must use the resources available in the small area around them in order to delay the inevitable decline in health. On the player’s wrist is a watch displaying their remaining health and the time they’ve survived thus far, with success in Island Time being based purely on these two statistics.
In order to survive the player needs heat and food, and not a lot else. Using basic tools such as flint, wood and coconuts a surprising amount of interactions become available; place the wood in the fire pit and create sparks with the flint to make a fire. Attach the flint to the end of a bamboo cane to create a spear for fishing. Force the bamboo cane through a coconut and set fire to it and suddenly you have a torch. The creative opportunities with this small tool set are satisfyingly imaginative, with Flight School Studio stating that people are actually still surprising them with unique ways of using the objects available.
Things aren’t quite as simple as they may sound, however. For starters, fire spreads; if you’re not careful with where you’re making those sparks you could find a few of your resources being unnecessarily burned. You’re also not the only one who’s hungry in the area, and fighting to protect your belongings can be an awkward task at times.
Balancing the action through paying attention to the strengths and weaknesses of each asset is important; knowing when to dig in and gather food or when to sit back and wait for a supply crate to arrive can be the difference between life and death in Island Time. That being said, you are actually meant to die; Island Time is essentially a high score run experience, with the longest survival time being considered the best. Don’t expect to get past three or four minutes on your first attempt, and five minutes being a respectable score on a second time through.
In just the short demonstration VRFocus experienced Island Time proved itself to be a hugely enjoyable distraction; a light snack to be consumed in between the deeper zombie-killing and puzzle-solving experiences that currently occupy most of the virtual reality (VR) marketplaces. There’s a sense of humour running through the experience that many will likely compare to Job Simulator – The 2050 Archives or Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, but in truth Carl’s going to get what’s coming to him.