The VR demos of Steam’s ‘Play What’s Next’ Festival 2021

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.

‘Ragnarock VR’ Review – Beat Saber’s got Nothing on Fantasy Prog Metal

Ragnarock is a VR exclusive rhythm game made in the style of the massively popular Beat Saber. It feels like Beat Saber has created this whole new genre of rhythm games in the VR marketplace, where players dance and wave their controllers to the music to hit notes. The thing is about this growing little sub-genre though, is that so much of the featured music revolves around some form of electronica, I think is the term. When Ragnarock popped onto the scene airdrumming to its fantasy prog rock/metal soundtrack, I was sold on the game very quickly.

Ragnarock has a lot of neat visual mechanics that affect the gameplay in ways we hadn’t seen in other dance VR games. The absolute coolest of which, is that you play your songs aboard a Viking longboat as a drummer. The better you perform, the faster your Viking rowers make speed down this beautiful icy river. This is a real dang cool way of showing players basic score with no numbers, just a scenic journey.

The drumming can get a little difficult due to issues with height adjustment. I had trouble figuring out exactly what my drumsticks should look like before starting, so ended up having to start a session, end it, start a session, and end it, all so I could mess with the settings in trial and error. Still, the drumming felt good with haptic and visual feedback, especially once I had found a decent setup. Maybe developers can add some in-game advice about calibration? This should be about how to align your drums properly, how to stand, etc, for the best play session.

I openly admit I am very terrible at Ragnarock, and heck, I’m bad at most rhythm games. Despite this, I had an excellent time just listening to the songs and trying to make it further down the river with my Vikingfriends. Hopefully WanadevStudio can continue working on adding new songs and rivers and boats to the game, and by the time I come back to play next we’ll really Rock.

Interested readers can buy Ragnarock on SteamVR.

‘Fujii’ VR Review

I just played Fujii for Oculus Rift S and my goodness I loved it. Funktronic Labs have created this beautiful adventure through a series of different islands with totally different ecosystems. It’s musically brilliant as well, everything reacts to what we touch or move near, creating a beautiful organic feeling soundtrack – like a walk through some very musically inclined forest. It doesn’t take long to realize how dang attractive the game is either, with levels starting off practically in darkness, with light rippling from the player character, giving glimpses of the levels ahead. We make your way through each island by playing with the plants and animals on the paths forward, unlocking more nonlinear paths as we progress. Some will lead back to the start point, some will lead to the seeds we are supposed to collect. It will always be a very pretty trip.

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