Mervils: A VR Adventure is a third person platformer game developed by London, Ontario-based VitruviusVR. We met Vitruvius at Immersed 2015 last year in Toronto, where Blake Stone, the company CEO, was showing off MushroomballVR. Stone told us that the plan for MushroomballVR was to build it into a full-scale platformer game. MushroomballVR eventually became Mervils: A VR Adventure.
Mervils: A VR Adventure takes place in a magical world called the Mervil Kingdom. Unfortunately for you (and the rest of the Mervils), Balazar the Evil is out to destroy the kingdom. To stop Balazar, the Mervils will need the power of a magical book called the Great Mervil Book, the pages of which are scattered around the kingdom. Before you can defeat Balazar the Evil, you’ll have to find all the pages of the book.
Truth be told, I wasn’t really sold by the synopsis of the game. I didn’t expect much. But as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. In this case, don’t judge the game by its description.
When I think of a VR game, one of the last things that comes to mind is a third-person platformer. The third person perspective doesn’t exactly scream virtual reality to me, but time and again I’ve found that my assumptions about VR aren’t always right. Third-person games can work well in VR as long as the controls and the camera system are done well, and VitruviusVR definitely put some effort into these details.
The demo of MushroomballVR was interesting, but it required some work. My memory of the demo from last year is foggy, so I can’t remember if it was first-person or third-person with a close follow camera, but I do remember that motion sickness was an issue. Mervils doesn’t suffer from that problem--at least not with the default settings. The game does let you configure a follow camera, but the default setup features stationary cameras.
You can move your Mervil avatar freely around the world, and your camera position will stay the same. VitruviusVR added a form of blink to the game so that you can follow you character around the world. I like this mechanic a lot. In Lucky’s Tale, the camera movement will occasionally cause minor vertigo. The stationary camera in Mervils was much more comfortable.
In addition to the camera blink system, you can rotate the camera orientation side to side, but you can spin only in large increments. The game doesn’t let you slightly adjust. For that, you’ll need to rotate your actual head.
A Full-Length Game
Many of the games that have been developed for VR (especially for SteamVR) feel like tech demos. The games are often short, offering just a few minutes of gameplay. Mervils: A VR Adventure is not one of those games. We’re not exactly sure how long the game is, but you’re in for at least several hours of adventure and exploration. The game consists of five worlds, and each of those worlds has multiple levels. We played for close to an hour and haven’t yet completed the first of three levels in the first world.