Fans of Sony’s PlayStation VR are going to have quite a few new experiences to keep them busy in 2018.
Sony showed off a large slate of games coming to the PlayStation 4 next year at its fan convention, PlayStation Experience, this past weekend, and more than a few of them will excite PlayStation VR owners. Not that non-virtual reality PS4 players should worry, especially on the indie side of the equation. The conference had a huge number of games on offer, with lots of smaller, interesting-looking offerings that will continue to fill out your PS4 library.
We spent the whole weekend checking out the games on hand: These are the best games we saw at PlayStation Experience 2017.
‘Firewall: Zero Hour’
Multiplayer VR is still a nut game developers are trying to crack. Firewall: Zero Hour, a four-player tactical shooter in the vein of Rainbow Six: Siege, isn’t reinventing the wheel on shooters of its kind, but it is tapping into something exciting by bringing existing ideas into VR.
Each match pits two squads of four players against each other in a Siege-style attack-and-defense game. One team tries to infiltrate an area, in search of an objective, while the other mounts a defense. The game’s tactical nature leads to a slow, deliberate pace, which works well in VR. Better yet, the game supports Sony’s rifle-shaped PlayStation VR Aim controller, which adds a strong sense of presence to the experience. It all mixes together to make a tense tactical shooter that’s all about teamwork. Firewall relies on mechanics and ideas that work well in squad-based shooters and the addition of VR injects new intensity and adrenaline into each mission. Firewall: Zero Hour will be a PSVR exclusive when it launches in 2018.
Indie developer Ben Esposito’s upcoming puzzle game, Donut County feels a bit like playing Japanese cult classic Katamari Damacy in reverse. Players move a hole around each level, causing things to fall into it. As more items fall in, the hole gets bigger, and the challenge comes down to eyeballing which items are small enough to consume so you can make the hole bigger. There are more mechanics in play, as well — chain reactions that lead to strange logic puzzles. Case in point, we snagged an outdoor furnace in our demo, which set the hole on fire, then used the heated air it creates to launch a hot air balloon.
Donut County also has an interesting story to tell between its levels. The controllable hole pops up when donuts sold by a particular raccoon are delivered wherever they’re going, and from the cutscenes in the demo, the people who get swallowed up find themselves living in caves, and not especially happy about it. Donut County has some great writing and is surprisingly hilarious, as well as a great-looking, chill puzzle game experience.
Look for Donut County on PS4, PC, and iOS in 2018.
‘Super Daryl Deluxe’
A Kickstarter project from two developers, Super Daryl Deluxe is a fun and goofy side-scroller with “Metroidvania” elements, where players earn more and more new abilities that help them open new paths in the games level.
The game sounds fairly conventional, but it’s the aesthetic of Super Daryl Deluxe that makes it especially fun. The main character is a nerdy, skinny high school kid who suddenly discovers some means of getting special powers. He finds himself lost in a dangerous high school-themed fantasy world. Fighting hand-drawn evil computer chips and giant trolls makes it feel like fighting through a high school kid’s sketchbook.
Look for Super Daryl Deluxe in spring 2018 on PlayStation 4 and PC.
‘Blood and Truth’
One of the experiences Sony’s London Studio created in its PlayStation VR Worlds title was a shooter inspired by British gangster stories. That short game inspired the full AAA VR experience that is Blood and Truth. It’s a sort of Guy Ritchie movie played in VR, using the PlayStation Move controllers to give the whole experience a tactile feel, and it seems intense and adult enough to pull it off.
The Move controllers mimic players’ hands in the game space, so you have (get to!) to pantomime secret agent moves reaching down to draw handgun, and … climbing a ladder. The demo level had us infiltrating a casino to chase down a bad guy, using the casino’s security room cameras to search the building. After you sneak through the casino — emptied after another of your team shuts down the power at a key moment — setting explosives and shooting security guys. The game’s natural dialogue and voice acting feel endemic to the whole experience, and while players move to set locations throughout its very linear levels, the shooting feels smooth and responsive all the way through.
Blood and Truth launches on PSVR in 2018.
Anamorphine, an interactive narrative from developer Artifact 5, tells a story without words. Told with visuals and music instead of dialogue, the game draws out an emotional story through the memories of a man named Tyler, slowly revealing an unknown trauma he’s experienced related to his wife, Elena. Simulating the ephemeral nature of memory, the game uses tricky perspective shifts to create lead characters through its various scenes and create adventure game-style puzzles. At one point, you may find yourself in the main character’s apartment, only to turn around and find that a substantial amount of time has passed, leaving you to glean new information from your surroundings to figure out what’s going on.
With a focus on music and sound as well as gorgeous visuals, Anamorphine is all about the feeling of its experience. The hands-on demo suggests a surreal but affecting tale, and with some slick and imaginative visuals to go with its focus on music, it could be an interesting, if more relaxed experience for fans of narrative-driven games.
Look for Anamorphine on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive, in January.
‘Bow to Blood’
Mixing a bunch of elements from spaceship simulations like FTL: Faster Than Light, with elements of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag-esque naval combat, Bow to Blood is an exciting VR flight combat game, which puts you at the helm of a sci-fi airship. As a contestant on a game show in a sci-fi/fantasy world, you compete with other captains to take home winnings. Flying your ship and shooting its guns is a key part of your experience, but so is managing your ship’s systems to move resources between your shields, guns, and engines. Bow to Blood combines a lot of cool ideas from a number of genres to make something fresh, and its VR presentation makes it feels unique. You can read more about Bow to Blood in our hands-on preview, and play it on PlayStation VR in the fourth quarter of 2018.
After years of silence, LittleBigPlanet series developer Media Molecule is finally getting ready to launch its game/game creation tool, Dreams. Greatly expanding the creation tools that empowered players in LittleBigPlanet, Dreams offers more than just a game — it is effectively an entire game engine, full of tools that let its players create their own games and movies. The game part, which was built entirely in Dreams, includes platforming, point-and-click adventures, and more. And for players who never want to do anything more than play, Dreams will include a huge pile of player-made levels and movies to download and try.
The depth of the tools available is ridiculous, though — you can create things at any level, from remixing elements in the style of LittleBigPlanet, to sculpting your own art assets or composing your own music. It’s like having a whole creation suite on hand, as well as access to a community of other creators with whom you can collaborate and share. Dreams has the potential to be the most interesting thing in video games in 2018, and it’ll even (eventually) include VR support.
Dreams will come to PlayStation 4 in 2018. In the meantime, read the rest of our hands-off impressions with Dreams from PSX.
The developers of Lucky’s Tale on the Oculus Rift used virtual reality as a new way to experience a traditional Mario-style platformer. Now developer Playful Corp. is attempting to adapt a Metroid-style game in VR with Star Child, creating a sci-fi side-scroller that feels like playing through a gorgeous diorama.
The hands-on demo for Star Child at PSX was pretty short but it suggests a visually beautiful game that’s highly accessible. The controls are simple and the story is told without the aid of dialogue, making it easy for anyone to get into. And the third-person VR presentation is relaxed enough that anyone, even those who struggle with simulation sickness, can enjoy it. Star Child will be a PSVR exclusive when it launches in 2018.
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