Preview: Arca’s Path – Marble Madness Rolls into VR
Dream Reality Interactive’s first VR title pays homage to classic ball-based platformers.
Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to be so many things. Even when adding in a limiting factor such as fulfilling the remit of ‘videogame’, there’s still so much room to explore and design entirely new experiences not yet offered by the medium. It’s become tiring, then, when a new first-person shooter (FPS) comes into the fray purporting to offer something new to the genre and ends up with little more than cookie-cutter gameplay. Dream Reality Interactive (dRi), are refusing to follow this mould.
Having begun to push against the given boundaries of augmented reality (AR) and VR videogame design in 2017 with Orbu, a popular iOS title using ARKit, dRi are set to launch their first commercial VR project, Arca’s Path, one year later. Published by Rebellion of Battlezone fame, Arca’s Path has been specifically designed to be scalable to a full range of VR head-mounted displays (HMDs), and as such will be launched on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and many more simultaneously.
Considering the varied inputs available for this multitude of HMDs, dRi has chosen to use a common denominator for the basis of the entire videogame: viewpoint. For the uninitiated, Arca’s Path is a marble-based puzzle videogame in which the player guides their marble – a young lady transformed by a magic face mask – simply by looking in a specific direction. Movement is determined via the location of the ball opposed to the world scale; looking at a space won’t move the ball to it, but rather in the direction that space is in relation to the ball. Looking further afield will move the ball faster, and staring directly at the ball will bring it to a standstill.
As would be expected, Arca’s Path starts off very gently. Allowing the player experiment with momentum and turning on gentle ramps and no-fail courses. By the time the player is faced with ramps, breakable blocks and steep descents controlling the ball’s movement with the central point of your view will have become second nature. Then it’s about challenging yourself to execute tight turns at speed, hit ramps perfectly for optimum lift and exploring the levels to find all the hidden gems.
The final version of Arca’s Path will ship with 25 levels, for which basic completion is expected to take around 2-4 hours. However, finding those gems is an added incentive which in turn will unlock new gameplay opportunities. The scale of Arca’s Path may seem slight, but that’s entirely intentional. The videogame has been designed to be challenging but in enjoyable bite-sized chunks. dRi is ready to accept that VR hasn’t yet matured to the point where a mass market audience would happily spend hours at a time wearing an HMD, and while Arca’s Path will most definitely be enjoyed by the core videogame demographic it’s clearly positioned as an experience that anyone can enjoy.