Developer / Publisher – Overflow Games
Price – US $14.69 / EU €13.29 / UK £11.39 / AU $21.54
Release Date – ONovember 7th, 2019
Input – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Room scale
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – Valve index
The definition of the word ‘Abode’ is “a place of residence; a house or home” which perfectly sums up the key attraction of Abode 2. By the time you get to the end of this 2-3 hour escape the room game, developed by Overflow Games, you will feel like the neo-noir futuristic apartment in which the game takes place is almost like your second home. You will have searched every nook and cranny is this fantastically realised setting and will have enjoyed many ingenious puzzles that challenge your knowledge of the space.
This type of game does not really need a story but Abode 2 provides one – you have arrived at a tower block, in a futuristic city, to view an apartment to rent. The owner is nowhere to be seen and you’re now stuck in the apartment and have to escape. This type of setup is certainly not new in the VR space, but Abode 2, like many VR games that have launched over the past couple of months, takes a lot of familiar tropes and iterates on them to produce something that feels fresh and interesting.
The key gameplay loop is to search the apartment for clues and items and then use them to solve a whole range of puzzles. To help you in this task you have a robot butler that can provide clues if you need them and can store items for you which is very useful. You have the option to move around the apartment via smooth locomotion or teleporting and given the space is relatively small either type of locomotion will be fine. While it is a small space to explore it is absolutely packed full of details and possible interactions. You’re able to pick up and interact with almost every item in the flat and there are a lot. Furthermore, all the items have fairly believable physics and weight. There’s no clipping through the environment here at all. I spent ages just picking up items and seeing how they interact with each other, smashing vases, breaking eggs and hitting chairs against tables. I had a lot of fun just taking paintings off the wall and then trying to re-hang them on a nail. This level of interaction and physicality really adds to the sense of presence you get when in the apartment.
The puzzles also really lean into this physicality, resulting in some highly entertaining and ingenious tasks that fully take advantage of VR. I’m certainly not going to ruin any of them in this review, as the joy of a game like this is discovering them yourself, but each puzzle really makes you consider your presence in the game and how the items you find interact with the environment. Importantly, I found them all to be logical and clear but I think some, possibly more experienced players, might find the puzzles a little easy. There are a couple of puzzles that require you to find multiple pieces to complete which can get slightly frustrating when you can’t find one element but overall I thought the puzzles were excellent.
Visually, the game does a great job of selling you its neo-noir futuristic setting. The apartment combines an interesting art-deco, 1950s aesthetic with futuristic elements that really helps to place you in its fiction. One moment that stood out to me in particular in this regard is a lovely sequence when you initially turn on the flat’s power and the blinds on the huge windows fold away, revealing a beautiful, dark futuristic cityscape with rain gently pattering against the windows. I found myself often just stopping by the windows and staring out wistfully into that neon, brutalist view. It’s wonderfully evocative and the apartment in general plays very well to VR’s strength of really placing you in an environment. The sound effect and the vinyls you can play on the in game turn-table also do a great job of placing you in the setting, even if the sound levels felt a bit off to me.
Unfortunately, there are a few bugs and performance issues in Abode 2 leaving the feeling that as an overall package it is a bit rough around the edges. While the level of interaction is great, the way your in game hands grab certain items can look very odd and there is an issue with the save system that meant that I couldn’t save my progress at all. Furthermore, I found performance to be a bit hit and miss on my Index/1080 set-up. In most parts of the apartment it would be fine but would then nose dive when I was around the main desk. I fiddled around with the in game graphic settings to improve this but it didn’t bring much improvement.
If you’re in the market for an enjoyable, highly interactive escape the room game I would recommend Abode 2. Object interaction is very high here and it leads to many unusual and interesting moments of gameplay. This is all wrapped up in a unique aesthetic and spending time just existing in this futuristic apartment was a treat. It’s not without its issues though and so do bear in mind that it’s a short game, performance is a bit lacking in places and the save files issue needs to be fixed.
What would I pay? £11.39 is a pretty reasonable price for a 2-3 hour game but it is worth noting that you probably will only play this through once and so your mileage with that price might differ. If I compare it to a trip to the cinema it feels like a very fair price, but undoubtedly there are VR games out there with more replayability for a similar price.
Overflow Games provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!