Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein has entertained and intrigued people for over 200 years, through various stories, movie adaptations, and games. The theme of Frankenstein defying the laws of nature to create his monster has gone through many different iterations over the years and the latest version of the story comes from Polish studio The Dust in the form of a VR game that immerses you in the past life of the late doctor. Or is it the current life? To be honest, time kind of does its own thing in Frankenstein: Beyond the Time.
This hidden object game (certainly a unique genre within the VR sphere) takes you to a Victorian-style house in the middle of nowhere that was the late home of the famed doctor. The place is filled with all manner of trinkets and odds an ends, not to mention enough body parts to make a mortician uncomfortable, and it’s now up to you to recreate Dr. Frankenstein’s last experiment before time runs out and a mysterious device resets the time-loop again.
So we decided to head on in and see if we can beat this device to the finish line and create the mysterious monster Mary Shelley created all those years ago. Frankenstein: Beyond the Time is available now on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift at $15.99 US. I tried the game using a Vive and liked its atmospheric visual style that draws the player in, as well as the Eye-gor “little helper” character where care has clearly been taken to make sure it feels like he’s really talking and interacting with you.
Check out my gameplay video:
Frankenstein: Beyond the Time was a refreshing break from most of the other puzzle and action VR games I’ve been trying out recently. Sure, the hidden object genre is nothing new, but it definitely is for VR. Of course, if you’re not a fan of hidden object games then this will probably not appeal to you in any sort of way, except if you’re a really big Frankenstein fan. Though the studio has taken a very unique take on the story of the enigmatic doctor.
There are letters spread all around the house in Frankenstein: Beyond the Time that detail Dr. Frankenstein’s lofty goals to defy death, his use of a mysterious artifact that could alter time, how that artifact eventually trapped him in his own home and his descent into madness. These are only flavor texts, though, and don’t really affect the outcome of the game. Where the gameplay really starts to pick up is when you create Frankenstein’s little robotic helper, eye-gor. However, it’s also at this point where the game loses a little bit of its immersion – at least for a while. Because there are no thematic or story-driven goals that lead to you creating Eye-gor but rather simple neon instructions like “pick up” and “pull lever” floating above certain objects until, voilà, you have an Eye-gor staring you in the face.
After that, the gameplay suddenly changes, with Eye-got simply providing a list of “ingredients” for you to track down all over the jam-packed house before the timer runs out on the watch he also kindly provided. While this method of gameplay was much more immersive, it did feel disconnected from the previous part.
A Macabre Christmas List
After creating Eye-gor and his list, the real frenzy against time starts. Every object can be found somewhere around the house, but it takes quite a bit of time to find each. Meaning that the timer ran out before I could find everything I needed and everything reset again. Unfortunately, there’s no inventory in the game, so you’re left with running around with an object or two to throw into the monster-creating machine before setting out to find the next item on the list.
There’s also more than one list, as each makes you find items that relate to one section of the monster’s body – starting with his head. Which means there is a level of frustration that comes along with trying to find each object and then finding it again after time resets. The objects didn’t move to new places which means that it’s simply trial and error until you know where to find everything and can get them back to the machine in time.
That doesn’t mean Frankenstein: Beyond the Time wasn’t fun, though. It certainly has its charm and I greatly enjoyed the design and polish of Eye-gor’s character. The interior of the house is also very detailed and a lot of the things in there can be interacted with, though there were some details that made it feel a little unpolished. For instance, there is nearly no realistic physics in the game and objects would make no sound when I dropped them. Nor would glass items break. These are small details, to be sure, but in a game that places its merit on how polished an environment is and makes most of the gameplay revolve around you interacting with the objects in that environment, details like these become noticeable.
So if you’re up for an electrifying adventure that will have you scurrying after guts and pieces of skin, then make sure to give Frankenstein: Beyond the Time a try.