Wave shooters. Wave shooters are everywhere in virtual reality (VR). What once felt like a good stepping stone to full first-person shooter (FPS) experiences has become the dam that is preventing more inventive ideas from being noticed in the new medium. Dream Reality Interactive’s Arca’s Path VR, set to be published by Rebellion later this year, is not a wave shooter, but it’s certainly looking set to become an experience you should seek out in the muddle.
Gaze-controlled experiences seemed to be the exclusive property of VR 2015-2016, but here in Arca’s Path VR Dream Reality Interactive is breathing new life into the simplistic control scheme. Played on a PlayStation VR (though according to the studio the videogame will be coming to ‘all’ VR formats) the player commands the movement of a ball around elevated platforms by moving their gaze-based cursor to the alignment from said ball they wish it to move. It’s essentially a case of relaying the traditional left analogue stick control onto the centre of the player’s viewpoint, but it does work well.
During this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, VRFocus got to experience the opening two levels of Arca’s Path VR. The first was a simple no-fail journey along a linear path. Without instruction, the player learns the pacing of manoeuvring the ball – the delay between the ball’s momentum and their own intangible push/pull, the acceleration and near-instant stop caused by the level design and player’s focus on the ball, respectively – upon this simple back-and-forth, before entering a second level which showcases the true ethos of Arca’s Path VR’s physics-based platform action.
The second level brings in new challenges immediately and without warning; lifts, bridges without barriers to prevent falling, high-speed descends similar to the infamous bonus stage from the Mega Drive edition of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Along with this comes a number of collectibles – which currently have no indication of what they might do – requiring additional skill to pick-up, and the final build will offer time trails in which the player must rampage through each level as quickly as possible to set a high score.
The story of Arca’s Path VR is delivered without dialogue nor narration, instead opting for short graphic novel-inspired cut-outs. These static images tell the tale of a girl who lives in a junkyard, but as a new shipment of waste comes in she finds a magical mask that – for reasons not yet explained – allows her body to take the form of a ball and teleport her to beautiful, brightly coloured worlds populated only with brightly coloured flora. However, a glimpse at later levels offered at the end of the E3 preview build suggests there’s much more going on under the surface; that not every land you’ll be visiting is a lush shade of green.
Arca’s Path VR is by no means a revolutionary experience; a question remains over whether or not the videogame benefits from VR at all. However, it does appear to have the potential to deliver a satisfying platform experience which the player can take at their own pace: the antithesis of those wave shooters, and for that alone it’s a title worth watching.