Lionhead Studios’ videogames – most famously the Fable series – had a certain warmth and feel to their design and character that made them unique. So it’s no surprise Rogue Sun’s first virtual reality (VR) Tin Hearts instantly exudes that same charm and personality due to most of the team having previously worked at the famous developer. Yet Tin Hearts is very much a different beast, mixing old-fashioned toys with a magical twist.
First and foremost this Early Access title for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is a Lemmings-style experience for the modern VR era, and that’s no bad thing. That simple gameplay style of getting some little characters from a start to a finish line has endured and evolved, this time featuring squads of tin soldiers to help through an ever more elaborate set of locations.
The gameplay is straightforward to pick up with little instruction needed. The soldiers will begin walking out of a small toy box once you open the lid. There’s no direct control over them, instead, you have to use a selection of coloured blocks, each with its own cutout and position, to guide the troops to their destination.
In the early levels this all takes place on a single workbench, all within handy reach whether you’re seated or standing. As the videogame progresses this concept expands massively, stretching out across entire rooms, utilising drums to bounce the little fellas to new tables, whilst adding more objects to interact with.
But to give you ultimate control of the experience and the gameplay there are both time and movement options. In regards to time, you can pause, fast forward and rewind as needed to complete the puzzles, keeping a good eye on where the soldiers are. One mistake and they’ll hit the floor – which does not end well. And as the levels increase in size so must your ability to explore them. As expected a teleportation option is introduced first, however, jumping into the options menu you’ll find smooth locomotion as well as turning variants.
Sometimes it’s easy to tell almost straight away when you’re going to enjoy a VR experience, and Tin Hearts achieves just that. Even more impressive with it being an Early Access title that’s still in development. It’s a joy to just look at, peering down onto the well-crafted tin soldiers as they march about.
It feels almost like being inside a Disney movie, with beautiful use of light and wood to build a scene that has a great sense of presence, with just the right amount of toys and other paraphernalia littered about the place.
What Rogue Sun has achieved so far with Tin Hearts is an engaging, enjoyable experience that already has VRFocus wanting to see more. There’s only one Act to begin with, with a further two to follow, hopefully nicely bolstering the content available for a good few hours of gameplay. Certainly, one to keep an eye on as Early Access continues.