Eastward is the director of a university XR research and development lab, a PhD candidate, and a Unity Certified Instructor
1. The Vader Immortal Trilogy
The Vader Immortal Trilogy was free with my Oculus Quest and I wasn't disappointed. The three episodes together aren't all that long (about 90 minutes in total) but the experience is well worth your time. In Episode I of the trilogy, you begin aboard your ship with your trusty droid. You are basically the star of this Star Wars "movie" and the story focuses on you and your interaction with other characters.
Early on, you and your droid are intercepted by imperial forces. It doesn't take long to find out that Lord Vader himself has taken a personal interest in you. Why me, you ask? Because he senses latent Force ability within you and demands that you become his apprentice (of course).
The story is written by David Goyer, screenwriter for the Blade trilogy, The Dark Knight trilogy, Dark City, Man of Steel, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. It expands nicely upon George Lucas's Star Wars universe and is an interesting case study of how movies and virtual reality experiences will likely continue to overlap.
It was exciting to get to face to mask with Vader and also to do some light-saber fighting. In Episode II and III of the trilogy, your latent Force powers become more pronounced (with a little training, that is).
Aside from the basic movie-like story-line, there is also the light-saber dojo mode. In the light-saber dojo, you stand in place and fend off enemy attacks using the fighting skills you possess in that particular episode. Each episode has a unique light-saber dojo, with different enemies and attacks.
Overall, I'd highly recommend the Vader Immortal Trilogy jaunt. It is a brief but worthy adventure, full of classic Star Wars characters, as well as new ones.
I will note that I played through the entire trilogy the first time without any glitches. However, on my second play-through, I had to stop a few times as the experience froze. I was able to pick up back up at the scene where I left off from the main menu continue menu. So, the problem was a temporary annoyance more than a deal-breaker. I also experienced some glitches in the light-saber dojo where I would defeat all the enemies, but could not advance to the next level. Hopefully, these glitches will be resolved with future updates.
Accounting+ is a delightful oddity and surely a great addition to your Oculus Quest game collection. On the game's website, it's described as a "nightmare adventure comedy by Crows Crows Crows, designed with Squanch Games." After having played through the game, I can't say that I disagree. Squanch Games is the video game studio founded by Justin Roiland (of Adult Swim's infamous Rick and Morty cartoon).
If you are familiar with Rick and Morty, you'll already have a sense of the bizarre brand of comedy that you'll find in Accounting+, and this time you are immersed inside of the action. You'll dive deeper and deeper into the realms of virtual reality and meet an array of hilarious, creepy, and annoying cartoon characters with familiar voices.
While it's certainly not a game for those upset by themes of horror, violence, blood, devil worship, murder, self-harm, and the like, it should appeal to Rick and Morty fans and others with steel stomachs (and great senses of humor). If virtual bombs, bone xylophones, gang activity, and regicide are up your alley, you'll be right at home.
This is another experience that isn't lengthy, but there are some secrets to uncover and different paths to make your way through the game on multiple plays through. You may also have the chance to discover the yet unearthed, but allegedly real, secret zoo level. Many have tried to unravel this mystery and find the elusive level, but no one has succeeded thus far. Intriguing, isn't it?
So, I recommend that you give Accounting+ a try. Dive right into the numbers and enjoy all the ridiculousness that will ensue. I enjoyed it thoroughly and found the experience to be glitch-free.
3. Red Matter
It's no surprise that Red Matter gets the praise it does. From the onset, this game achieves what it set out to do. It puts you in the role of an astronaut exploring a sci-fi cold war outpost where you solve puzzles to unravel the mystery of what happened there. The game looks and feels great. It's clear that even the smallest details were given great care.
The base you are tasked with entering and exploring belonged to the fictional Volgravians. The structures evoke an eerie sense of an almost propagandized version of Communist construction. The walls are littered with nationalistic posters, signs, and stenciled lettering that you can translate once you have the necessary data files. One truly feels alone in space, rummaging through enemy documents in the massive, grey, vacuous sections of the base.
The puzzles aren't overly difficult, but you do need to pay attention to everything you are presented with—and your surroundings—to proceed with ease. As you gain additional security clearances and make your way through the experience, you'll learn of a strange alien mold afflicting the former inhabitants, and much more. There is an ominous sense that danger is right around the corner and that you better brace yourself for it.
Red Matter is one of the most realistic virtual reality games that I have encountered in terms of overall immersive experience. One does really get the sense of being present in this alien world among unfamiliar yet essential artifacts.
In keeping with great graphics and game-play, I was also able to make it through without a single glitch. If I had any complaint, it would be that I kept accidentally switching between my scanner tool and my robotic hand (you'll see what I mean). It's a very minor particularity in an overall masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and get a copy ASAP!
Bonus: Games That Didn't Work out so Well for Me
There are a few titles that I tried out and had some serious issues with.
The first game I didn't like so much was Apex Construct. Things started out OK. It's an action/adventure game set in a futuristic wasteland ruled over by super-intelligent AI. The game experience looked and felt alright and there was some interesting Batman Dark Knight-ish voice acting. However, I quickly reached a point in the game where the next level would not load.
I would click to load the next location using the in-game UI and things would go black but the next level never loaded. I tried restarting the game and my Oculus Quest, but that didn't solve the issue. I was a bit disappointed but decided to return the game (the Oculus store gives you 14 days to return a game that you have played less than 2 hours).
The other game I had an issue with was Arizona Sunshine, a zombie survival first-person shooter. This one felt a bit shaky to me right from the start. You start off in a boarded-up trailer with some items laying around that you can interact with, though not all serve a purpose. There are some cartridges that let you calibrate and choose your game mode, which I did.
No matter what I seemed to do, my guns felt off. I could put the gun right up to a zombie's head and it seemed to be a crap-shoot as to whether I could land a shot. I went through the standard troubleshooting to no avail. The game has enough good ratings and perhaps there is some reason that slipped past me as to why this one wouldn't work. Nonetheless, I was frustrated and happy to return this one before I hit the two-hour mark. I also found the overall aesthetics and user experience a bit lacking. Perhaps it gets better as it goes (if it's working correctly).
Have you shared my joys and/or frustrations with these games? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.
Oculus Quest 128GB on Amazon
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Eastward