Preview: Gates of Nowhere – Who’s Trapped in With Who?

It must be said that VRFocus has done its fair share of dungeon crawling in its time. Whether that’s on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, The Mage’s Tale, Left-Hand Path or one of the many other virtual reality (VR) titles that put you in a Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy realm. Currently in Steam Early Access is Symmetrical’s Gates of Nowhere, a fantasy/horror style adventure that has the makings of one of the best in VR.

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Gates of Nowhere is your usual hack and slash combat affair mixed in with some magical potion making and light puzzle solving. Having demoed the experience on a standard HTC Vive and the newer HTC Vive Pro whilst at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018 (the title also supports Oculus Rift), VRFocus can safely say that Symmetrical has created a visual treat. This is demonstrated straight from the off by grabbing a flaming torch to see your way round the first room. The light dances off the damp stone walls and hanging chains, creating a dark foreboding atmosphere that other titles have tried but don’t always succeed at.

While the look is very polished the movement needs a little work. Featuring both teleportation and smooth locomotion, it was certainly the latter that was more effective. Both could be active off of the same touchpad yet teleporting was a bit hit and miss, not always activating and instead you’d find yourself walking. There are options in the menu to just have teleport on if you can’t handle smooth locomotion but VRFocus would advise against this, mostly because of combat.

Gates of Nowhere uses roomscale to its fullest. There’s no remote item pickups here, if something is twinkling on the floor like a potion item or a weapon you’ve got to get down and pick it up. Once done so a double tap of the grip buttons puts said object away in your inventory which can be accessed on either hand and then selected like a scroll wheel with the touchpad. The system can be a little confusing at first as the inventory is attached to your hand – and therefor moves around with it – but it’s not too difficult to get used to, and after selecting weapons and shields a few times becomes reasonably natural.

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As mentioned, when it comes to combat Gates of Nowhere is very much a hacking affair, with swords, maces, axes and other close quarters weapons the main choice alongside use of a shield to protect for incoming assaults. As gameplay develops you’ll be able to access ranged weaponry like a bow, although it doesn’t feel as well implemented as in titles like Apex Construct or In Death. When engaged in melee combat movement can be of critical importance, especially when dealing with multiple foes. This is where the teleportation system really flounders as you can’t neatly step backwards or move out the way quickly. While the smooth locomotion system feels like a slow walk, it’s good enough to get you out the way of a swinging axe if you no longer have a shield – items in Gates of Nowhere are breakable – to then return the attack.

Apart from fighting hordes of monstrous creatures Gates of Nowhere will have you looking for keys to open the next area and rooms are littered with various potion ingredients to aid your quest, such as healing spells.

Having been in Early Access for a number of months now Gates of Nowhere is looking very promising. Symmetrical look to have all the right ingredients for one of the best dungeon crawlers in VR, but there is some fine tuning needed before it can reach that lofty goal against some stiff competition. If you like fearlessly fighting your way through dungeons, unafraid of what could be round the next corner then this could be the videogame for you.