The new VR title from Gunfire Games (the studio that developed Chronos), From Other Suns, was described to me as the 3D (and VR) version of Subet Games’ 2012 title FTL, which had you manage a spaceship as it endured events such as alien invasions and constant maintenance on its spacefaring trip. I didn’t get to see the many similarities (although I was told about them), but From Other Suns impressed me in another way--through its shooting experience.
To begin the demo, I toured my ship. It featured different rooms that housed essential parts of the ship, including its defenses, the main engine, and the bridge. I had a small crew that could help repair these rooms if the ship was under attack, but that didn’t happen in the demo. After the short tour, I could freely move around.
The concept of locomotion is an important issue in VR. If done correctly, a studio can give the player a game free of motion sickness; do it wrong, and it could ruin an entire experience. With From Other Suns, you can actually choose from two different methods.
For those who are easily prone to motion sickness, you can push the left analog stick forward on the Oculus Touch. This will enable you to control a copy of your character in a third-person view while staying in a fixed position. With the stick, you can direct this copy to move to a specific point within your line of sight and then release the stick to transport yourself to its current position and to your default first-person view. You can also slightly push the left stick in any direction to move in slow increments. The right analog stick on the Touch will also allow you to turn in small angles, so as to further prevent motion sickness.
The second method is for those who have little to no issue with constantly moving in the first-person view while standing still in the real world. Most people find that experience nauseating, but at least the studio implemented it in the game for those few who can handle it.
I preferred the slow, incremental movements for most of the demo, and I used the third-person abilities when traveling long distances. This type of locomotion worked best because it allowed me to move fast across multiple long corridors. The small movements were helpful for letting me sneak behind a wall in order to scout for hostiles or other dangers, as you’ll find out soon.
Around The Corner
While on the bridge of the ship, I used the warp drive to travel to another solar system. I stumbled upon a seemingly-abandoned space station, but its sole survivor managed to contact me. He needed rescue from a small army of rogue robots that took over the base. I needed to get in the station and free him from his mechanical captors (we also learned that the game will feature alien foes). Along the way, I would need to take out any robots that posed a threat. As always, the task was easier said than done.
After arriving to the station via the ship’s transport beam (Energize!), I had to be cautious because of its many hallways and corners. The enemy could be behind the next corner, so I moved slowly through the station. Eventually, I encountered a robot and took it down with my weapons.
Initially, each crew member has access to a standard-issue laser pistol. However, I could grab other weapons, such as a gun that released multiple strands of electricity, while another item let me deploy a temporary shield. I could store more weapons in my inventory, which I accessed through the wrist-mounted device on my left hand.
It’s also worth mentioning that the robots I faced varied in different forms. One seemed to be the standard, rifle-wielding model. Another curled into a ball, which made its impregnable to gunfire. Perhaps the most difficult robot was the stealth version, which I could make out only by its blue silhouette. However, its cloaking ability made it difficult to track at times, which made for tense situations, and usually a quick death (for me).
During the short battle with the robot, I was able to utilize cover behind a corner wall. I would occasionally pop out and attempt to shoot the robot. We traded shots for almost thirty seconds, but it moved too close at one point, which forced me to fire my weapon in rapid succession until the machine fell to the ground. On my second encounter with a robot, I died, and found out the hard truth about the game. When a crew member dies on a mission, you will control another shipmate and try to finish the same task. If your second character dies, the game will let you control another crewmate, and so on. If they all die, the game is over.
Before the demo ended, my second shipmate died, which prompted me to use one more character to enter the space station. The combat itself isn’t difficult to begin with, as it’s more about wisely hiding behind corners and structures when moving in to attack the enemy. However, their shots are accurate, and the robots did attempt to flank me at times.
You Have My Attention
Eventually, I managed to find a keycard that would lead me further into the base, and hopefully find the trapped survivor. Unfortunately, I stumbled onto another group of robots and died. I was about to go for my fourth attempt, but my time with the game was over.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the short demo. The exploration, combined with cover-based shooting, was exciting. Whereas some VR games had me shoot at targets from a fixed, standing position, this game let me move about freely in order to gain any sort of tactical advantage on the enemy. I also found out that each base is procedurally generated, so every structure will be somewhat different in its layout, which only increases the tension with every new base.
My experience with the demo made me yearn for more gameplay, but I’m curious to see first-hand how the game works with its space battles and managing your teammates. I was also told that the game supports multiplayer, with your friends taking on the role of the shipmates. All in all, it has the potential to be an exciting time, regardless of whether or not you’re playing with your friends. However, I’ll need to see more of it in order to determine if it uses the Oculus Touch controls to its full potential.