Having released surreal puzzle experience Daedalus for Samsung Gear VR last year, Spanish indie developer Vertical Robot obviously believes bigger is better when it comes to follow up title Red Matter. Keeping with the puzzle element but going for a dystopian sci-fi theme rather than Greek mythology, Red Matter instantly looks like a videogame from a virtual reality (VR) developer that knows what its doing and what it wants.
Red Matter can’t be looked at like a puzzle experience, more an epic adventure with puzzles woven into slow the pace down and make you think about the surroundings and what’s going on. There’s a brief story introduction at the start, echoing 1950’s technology, about two fictional nations involved in a Cold War. You happen to be an agent for one of them, codenamed Epsilon, and it’s up to you to infiltrate a base located on one of Saturn’s moons and steal data on the research projects going on.
Of course not all is what it seems as when you land – or more accurately crash – on Rhea you find the base to be seemingly empty and abandoned. Not a sole remains so it should be an easy job to find what you’re looking for and get out.
The little introduction to the control scheme once Red Matter gets going showcases a well thought out and simple layout. The right controller handles movement whilst the left gives you a range of options, from a secondary claw or torch, to the highly useful scanner which becomes an invaluable source of info. What’s nice about Red Matter is that the Oculus Touch controllers are actually in the game. So rather than just a pair of hands, the hands are holding Oculus Touch, giving a far more one to one feeling of presence which doesn’t always exist in VR titles.
One feature that’s certainly going to divide opinion is the locomotion. Vertical Robot hasn’t gone for teleportation as such, nor has it chosen smooth locomotion. Instead you get a low gravity hop, aimed and pointed just like a teleport, but you get to alter the speed depending on how comfortable in VR you are. Thankfully, for short distances there’s a quick dash alongside moving around in roomscale to get lined up on those puzzles.
And Red Matter is beautiful to look at. The sunset looking out over Rhea is astonishing and even inside the attention to detail is impressive. Having that design feel of Soviet era technology, Red Matter kind of looks like a mix between Fallout 4 and the Bioshock, with a rugged, dilapidated aesthetic where everything looks almost indestructible.
From this first early glimpse at Red Matter the title certainly looks like it’s going to gain a few fans. The controls, to the visuals are all superb, giving Red Matter that AAA feel right from the start. So long as this single-player experience has a decent run time with a nice broad range of puzzles and challenges to solve then there’s no reason why Red Matter can’t be one of the big Spring/Summer hits in VR. VRFocus will definitely be looking forward to playing more of this.