Guildford Castle VR (Steam) is a delightful journey into both a modern-day museum and its gardens, as well a detailed glimpse into its medieval castle counterpart. Guildford Castle is one of the most expansive and informative VR educational experiences of 2022, featuring narrated vignettes across the castle grounds, as well as meticulously detailed set pieces all throughout the experience. These details vary from fully legible written labels around the modern-day museum, to the gallows seen in the distance from the tower parapets.
Guildford Castle VR really caught my attention by the way it told the story of the castle. On pressing the “Tour Guide” buttons scattered around the museum, a narrator would start speaking about the histories and they would do things like show us how the castle changed over time. During these presentations, walls would grow and expand, before going back to normal by the time they were done speaking. I find this to be a cool compromise for storytelling in the world of VR museums! This is an excellent way to gently show your audience what you’re talking about, in real time, without hijacking their viewpoint and experience in the process.
Guildford Castle VR gets a A+ in my book for style and substance. It really is an excellent museum, that I hope to see more of the style. The experience ran mostly smoothly on my old PC, but it had a ton of settings I was able to adjust to make it run perfectly.
I’m really looking forward to seeing more from developer, Historic VR! I’ll be happy to pay for an experience as smooth and enjoyable as Guildford Castle VR.
Kusunda is an excellent VR film from NowHere that asks some important questions about family, legacy and the impermanence of culture itself. We meet Lil Bahadur, former member of the Kusunda people, and learn what he and his granddaughter are doing to memorialize their language before it is forgotten.
Kusunda is a VR cinematic documentary about a tribe of hunter-gatherers, the language they spoke, and what their legacy will be in today’s world. The experience has a really interesting extra feature where it asks you to try to pronounce a certain few words or phrases of the Kusunda people at specific times during the story. Players can opt out of this system, though I do not recommend doing so. I found myself particularly more engaged in listening to the language and its pronunciation, knowing that I would be asked to attempt to speak it.
Kusunda also features some of the best visual storytelling I have seen in a documentary in this style: from the swooping 3d footage of Nepal’s hills and valleys, to a storybook-like retelling of the protagonist’s anecdotes in animated fashion. I found myself emotionally moved by the story of Lil Bahadur and his granddaughter – especially by the little twist at the end of the Kusunda VR experience. I can easily recommend this to any who enjoy these sorts of VR films, particularly those who might appreciate the novelty introduced here by the voice recording mechanic.
I experienced Kusunda on Viveport Infinity on an Oculus Quest 2 through Virtual Desktop, in the seated position. Everything worked smoothly with no technical issues or VR instability.
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The Haunted Graveyard is a short walking-only VR experience that will leave players feeling creeped out or mesmerized by its delightfully kooky characters and Disneyworld’ish dark-ride style presentation.
I’ve been loving the Steam Demo festival, Play What’s Next! So far I have mostly checked out the upcoming VR games – here are my thoughts on some of them.
TossVR – we play as an acrobatic ape climbing through jungle gym playgrounds of increasing difficulties. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the exact movements and speed and everything required to get through! Very satisfying when you get to punch the “I finished the level” button! It’s also super colorful and happy to look at, so the game really improved my spirits! Steam link
BoomBox – this is a rhythm game in the style of something like Beat Saber, but wow it’s so much nicer to look at! There were only two songs available in the demo, but the dev promises to have a LOT more with a bunch of environments to go through. In the level that was available, it’s like you’re jogging down a trail and the whole experience is just so dang smooth and chill. This might sound stubborn, but if the devs price this under Beat Saber’s $30, I’ll definitely be buying it for its full release this month! Hope others will too, because a lot of work clearly went into making this game so seamless and relaxing. Steam link.
Sword Reverie – A JRPG with anime style visuals and HUGE SWORDS? It was fun! I only did part of the demo, but it was mostly just following a path and talking to characters, then combat, and you rinse/repeat. I think the devs have bigger plans than this though, based on the magic resource management system that’s in the game? Basically you have spells you can cast depending on how you wave your HUGE SWORDS and which element they have equipped. It felt so dang good Fus-Roh-Dah’ing badguys across whole dang battlefields with an arm swing, since all the enemies have ragdoll physics. Steam link.
I’ll be playing more demos on Steam, until the Play What’s Next festival ends on February 9th. Be sure to follow along on this blog, Instagram, and Twitter for all the cool stuffs.
Homies let me tell you, the original Psychonauts was my jam. It was vibrantly colorful with its artstyle and unique characters and always had a fun twist on That Cliche You Were Expecting. So when I heard about Psychonauts: Rhombus of Ruin, I was hella excited for the eventual day I’d get a VR system. Well that day finally came, and BOY I’ve got some thoughts.