Really engaging story-based games are kind of a hard find in the VR genre. It’s not because the genre doesn’t work well with the platform, but rather because it’s a lot trickier to create a believable story experience that really pulls the player in with virtual reality than it is with traditional games. Just because it hasn’t been done successfully over a broad number of games, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, however. Developers just need a little time to come to grips with this new medium of storytelling and find the ways that work best to pull at those heart strings.
For its part, Chiaro and the Elixir of Life looks to be a step closer to actualizing a VR game with a story that’s on par with some of the most memorable story moments we’ve had in games thus far. With the immersion that VR allows, one day we might even see VR games surpass them. All of that is still a ways off into the future of course, but you can’t finish a road without laying down the first few bricks at its start. Which is exactly what Chiaro and the Elixir of Life does.
While no final release date has been announced for the game, which is set to come to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift later this year, Martov. Co did create a Kickstarter page for Chiaro and the Elixir of Life last month to help get the game past the final stages of production. We got our hands on an early copy of the game and decided to have a talk with one of the founders of Martov. Co, Martin Bradstreet about the game and what it was like to develop a great-looking game in one of the harder genres to create for VR. You can read more about their experience creating Chiaro here.
I got to play through the first four chapters of the game using a Vive, and they served pretty well in giving an impression of what can be expected from the game overall. Chiaro and the Elixir of Life puts you at the center of the story as a young engineer called Chiaro who embarks on an epic journey through the magical world of Neverain as he tries to uncover the lost secrets of a secretive group called the Alchemists, who are behind the now extinct alive machines. The gameplay focuses heavily on the narrative with various puzzles and exploration thrown in-between.
Here’s a quick look at the gameplay in Chiaro and the Elixir of Life:
I didn’t find the puzzles I encountered in the first few chapters of Chiaro and the Elixir of Life particularly hard, but the developers did do a great job of creating puzzles that both fit into the story and were diverse enough that I never felt bored while playing. The real star of the show, however, was the incredible amount of charm that Martov. Co managed to pack into those first few chapters.
Along my journey, I met a few characters (and even built one myself) in encounters that managed to feel natural and contributed to an overall compelling plot. Which is still rare in virtual reality – where any NPCs that do feature in the game tend to be disembodied voices or stiff models that were simply added for the sake of having them there. In this game, it felt like the characters took center stage, while the puzzles and other game elements were the complementing features.
Not that Chiaro and the Elixir of Life lacks in keeping the pace going on the gameplay side too. From making tea for a penguin robot, to rowing a boat across a serene river, there was always something new to do. I even participated in some unexpected fishing. Martov Co. has managed to incorporate a diverse range of things to do in a short amount of time and make each new thing feel seamlessly polished. Though the game is not without its faults – the rowing was a struggle at first because I was standing in real life and in the boat. So I ended up getting on my knees in order to be able to get the oars to work right. But I’m sure minor gripes like these are bound to be fixed by the developers in the coming weeks leading up to release.
Overall, my first foray into the world of Neverain was a pleasant and altogether fun experience and I can’t wait to see where Chiaro’s journey leads.