Type: Interactive story/puzzle
Device: Gear VR
Control: Head tracking
Althora is the first VR game was developed by EIPIX, their goal was to create a “audio-visual immersive experience while playing Althora.” And I believe they achieved that goal. Althora is a mix of Story telling and a puzzle game.
I asked Eipix what inspired them to create Althora, they said.” We had the idea for a world like Althora’s for a long time, and when we felt ready to enter the VR game development field, we finally saw our chance to bring it to life. Drawing inspiration from terrain as diverse as the deserts of Nevada, the mountains of Japan, the Tibetan Plateau and the jungles of India, it provides a wholly unique visual experience.”
What I really enjoyed about playing through Althora was the visual aspect of the game, it reminded me of the sprawling world of the Halo franchise with its own twist of course. the sprawling mountains, and atmosphere helps to draw you in and feast on the scenery with your eyes.
When you start the game, the music and landscape invoke almost a 90’s point and click adventure Myst type game feeling, if you don’t know what Myst is, you have some googling to do my friend. While the actual game-play is no where as long or as involved as Myst, I liked that I felt immersed and satisfied by it’s end.
Game play mechanics
The game play is gaze based. You look at floating points in the sky that I call movement points, to further the plot and you float to the next spot. Enjoy looking around and move on, you can move at your own pace. You also have a floating Robot companion who guides you through the adventure, while giving you clues on your surroundings and history of the land and ruins you are exploring.
I do enjoy my games to be a little more difficult as far as puzzles go, but I did appreciate how your robot guide drops hints on what you should do next as some parts of the game are more puzzle heavy than others. So I was never lost, and I could enjoy moving on the the next part without feeling lost or frustrated.
VR Comfort Level
The comfort level is moderate, because of floaty motion as you glide thought the world, my friends who I showed it to, felt a little dizzy and would need to sit down. Sometimes your avatar “floats” so slowly, I found that I would get a little anxious, and it took away parts of the experience as it became tedious at times.
When I first started playing the game, it reminded me of a Annie Amber where you just float through the story line with little interaction other than looking at each movement point. And while there is some of that in this game, it’s far more engaging than that by throwing in puzzles and interactive moments in to the game. The VR design is very good, and the implantation of using the head tracking to manipulate different puzzles objects I did find myself wishing I could use my new motion controller, and maybe in a future update EIPIX will implement that option into the control scheme.
Like I have said before the graphics are great, and while the world around you is a mix of technology and nature. Althora Showcases a vast world and is glorious to behold. I really wished I could just keep exploring the world deeper and deeper at it’s end. I have to give credit to the story writers cause the pacing of the story does a great job at keeping you entertained while the visuals keep you in awe. No matter if you are going down a dark and intimidating cave, to manipulating bridges and beams of light, or watching huge floating whales dance through the beautiful clouds.
I loved how going through gates would transport you to other parts of the world, from ancient ruins to advanced city’s and all the while your peeling by this world layer by layer in a perfect pace, each level not only advanced you through the story, but deeper through the world as well.
Music / effects
They say the best implementation of music is when you don’t hear the music, but feel the emotion it brings into your heart. I felt the music in this game is paced perfectly. it’s a mix of soft synth, that matches the nature aspect of the Environment, and heavier metallic sounds that indicate the Technology aspect of the environment. When you are surrounded by more nature. the soundtrack becomes lighter, when the more technological your environment becomes, the rhythm and heavy beats chime in meshing with the visuals perfectly. A great example of this is Althorian skies.
It was a Fantastic effort by the audio team Igor Jakovljević (Head of Audio), Aleksandar Manja (sound designer and voice actor) and Nemanja Rančić (music composer).
If you would like to listen to the soundtrack of the game, here’s a soundcloud Link to the games soundtrack. https://soundcloud.com/eipixentertainment/sets/althora
You wont be dissapointed, I’m listening to it right now as I write this. Althorias Skies, the song I mentioned above is Number 9. 🙂
My only complaint about Althora is the length of it. I wished there were a few more puzzles, and some of the later levels are just 10 or so movement points, a simple puzzle, gate. I did enjoy the ride however, and I will use the experience to show off VR to friends and family, so they can see how awesome VR is today.
Making a game for VR is a pretty rough road these days, as games find their audiences and create new genres, on new technology, which is advancing right under the feet of the developers. Developers who are pushing to figure out the financial landscape of of VR, doing their best to make quality content for a price that consumers won’t faint over, and make it worth their time. I’m not sure if the perfect price point has been locked down just yet, but, if it were based on how much effort this Game must have taken it would be fair to charge 10$. But for a fickle consumer crowd, content is king, and replay ability is a must, i’m not sure Althora has the Longevity consumers are craving for an 8$ experience.
- Music Design
- Compelling Story
- Very Simple
- May cause slight Dizziness while standing for some people
- Too Short! ( this can be taken as a good thing.)