Budget Cuts, from NEAT Corporation, was shown at the Steam VR Developer Showcase. This was one of the more popular experiences at the event. Several people even said it was their favorite game that they played at the showcase.
Budget Cuts is a VR stealth game, and from the brief demonstration of the game that I was privy to, I would say it has been executed very well. The key premise of the game is to sneak into the office building of a company you recently applied to work at, find your application, and “approve it” yourself so you get hired. To meet that goal would require far more time than the 15-minute demo I was allotted, but I was able to get a feel for how the game works in that short time.
To get around the obvious problem of long distance mobility in a VR game, Budget Cuts uses a teleportation system, similar to the one used in Epic’s Bullet Train for Oculus Rift, and Cloudhead Games’ Blink technology. You can walk around within a small enclosed space with roomscale tracking, and when you want to move forward, you point your controller and click a button. This will give you a highlight of the area you will be jumping to, which makes it easy to choose where to go.
Teleporting in this way lets you get through practically any open space; doorways, open windows, and opened wall vents are all fair game to hop right through. With a bit of practice, movement like this can be done very quickly, and in fact it will likely become necessary as you progress through the game.
Eventually I found myself in an elevator, and when the door opened, there was a robot in front of me with its back turned my way. I was given a warning about the robots from a character that was talking to me through radio transmissions. If the robots catch you, they will kill you.
The solution is to take them out with throwing knives. This sounds like it would be fairly easy, but I was definitely having trouble with this mechanic. For the life of me, I couldn’t aim the knives with any kind of accuracy. They would either end up in the floor in front of me, or in the wall above the robot. This resulted in me being shot in the face a few times before I managed to get around this obstacle.
It seems I wasn’t the only person to have trouble, but many people managed to get it figured out. Joachim Holmer, NEAT Corportation’s CTO, noted that it is still being fine-tuned, and he anticipates improvements before it's release. Holmer said he is considering adding a user calibration system so players can dial-in better accuracy.
There’s still plenty of time to work out the bugs. Budget Cuts will not be a launch title on the Vive in April. Rather, it will be released closer to the end of the year. From chatting with some of the attendees, developers and a Valve employee or two about their impressions, I think this one will be a big hit. Everyone at the event certainly had positive things to say about it.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.