Publisher – Virtual Dawn
Price – US $14.99 / EU €14.99 / UK £10.99
Release Date – January 27th, 2017
Input – Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Room-scale w/ 360° tracking
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – HTC Vive
One of the things I have come to love about VR gaming is how it takes exploration to a more engaging level than traditional gaming. Nothing quite beats that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you round a corner and see an outrageous obstacle that you will need to overcome in order to progress. If you take that feeling, mix in a dash of puzzle and a sprinkle of killer baddies, you will have yourself a game called Outrageous Grounds: The Maze.
In the maze you will find yourself in control of a robot body that awakens to the delightful situation of being stuck in the depths of a dilapidated maze with no clear recollection as to how or why you now find yourself there. As you explore, you can expect to find various monsters, automated turrets, and many other dangerous traps. Luckily you will also come across various weapons, health boons, and even a few friendly NPCs that will shed some light on your current situation.
You will find a wide range of weaponry through the levels of the maze such as melee weapons, pistols (that you can dual wield!), shotguns, automatic weapons, as well as a few different types of explosives. Also scattered around are key cards and items to replenish health and ammo. I never experienced a shortage of ammo even with me opening up on every monster I came across. Health on the other hand was very valuable and in high demand. Your ammo count is conveniently located on your right wrist; however, you have no clear way of knowing how much damage you can take or have taken, only a red outline around the screen showing that you have taken some damage. This had me using health items left and right and quickly running out. Fortunately, you can carry a few with you in your inventory.
Available are 6 inventory slots to store your items in. I wasn’t wild about the type of inventory used here because the slots are located at your knees, hips, and shoulders and while I didn’t have any issue putting items in the lower two, I would often drop items when trying to place them in the shoulder slots. This is because the sphere that indicates the slot is not visible to the player in that location, something that you will get accustomed to over time but it can be aggravating early in the game.
The controller setup was simple, with the side buttons used to grip and drop and the triggers to fire weapons and prime explosives, but the locomotion style was one place this game shined. To put it as plainly as possible, you touch the top section of each trackpad and then swing your arms like you’re taking a power walk. The longer the swing, the faster the run. It sounds odd, I know, but once you get the hang of this it will feel as natural as can be, in my opinion. Jumping is also achieved through this swinging motion but is more like a ski jump motion with both hands, it’s a lot of fun as your robot legs give you quite a bit of lift.
Overall the game looked great in the graphics department. I never encountered any areas that felt out of place thematically which helped me get into the game. The lighting was well done and each item was easily identifiable. I expected to see a lower quality of graphics with so many intractable physics based items being used but, aside from one or two minor issues with dropped keycards that I couldn’t pick up, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall quality. The sound was equally impressive with a nice ambiance that set the creepy decaying maze mood. The feedback from interacting with items and firing weapons was all pretty enjoyable. Between the graphics, unfolding story, and sound, Virtual Dawn put together a pretty interesting world that is easy to get pulled into.
For an early access game, I didn’t experience any major issues with the gameplay itself. Sure, I encountered a few crashes here and there and would like to see a few features implemented, most notably save points, but the game managed to suck me in and provided a new experience. Climbing around and solving how to get from point A to B was a lot of fun and having so many interactable objects in a good looking and sounding environment really made the game for me. I would love to see an even richer story behind the character and world but something tells me that the journey of discovery is very much alive in the minds of the folks at Virtual Dawn, and we will be seeing more in that department in future updates as we navigate this mysterious maze.
What would I pay? $14.99 might seem a little steep at first glance, but once you realize that this isn’t a simple maze game it starts to become clear why it’s worth the asking price. Between the features and design, and the amount of gameplay it provides, I definitely have no problem with current price.
Virtual Dawn provided theVRgrid with a review copy of the game and, regardless of our review, we thanks them for that!