CBILAB Studios’ sci-fi action adventure game, ManMade, has officially kicked off its Kickstarter campaign today. This ambitious VR project aims to thrust players into a 5 episode long adventure, set in an AI-ruled Istanbul of the future. As one of two playable characters, you will use your enhanced senses to gather information and chase down leads on your journey of revenge against the very AI you helped create.
At least, that is the goal. ManMade also intends to feature real actors, a non-linear story, original soundtrack, and a unique combination of first and third VR perspectives. I know what your thinking. That is a tall order for a Kickstarter. How in the world do we know if CBILAB can pull this off? Well, I got my hands on their concept demo over the weekend, and I am happy to say that it is dripping with potential.
That Secret Sauce
Playing a concept demo is always an interesting endeavor. Half of the experience is the studio showing off their concepts while the other half is left to your imagination. More often than not, you get a rather crude look at the most utilized mechanics. However, the important thing is the flavor that the demo leaves behind.
The ManMade demo puts you in control of the stories main character, Kaan, as he tries to sneak his way into a corporate database. You find yourself in a futuristic looking room, full of database nodes, but only one contains the information we need. Choose the wrong one and the guards rush in to take you away. Luckily, you have a keen eye for clues.
The game does a good job of walking you through the basics of movement and understanding the various cues that you need to look out for, but it is ultimately up to you to explore. After I came across my first clue, it lead me to another that had me testing for heat signatures and fingerprints. However, I stumbled upon a third clue, that had nothing to do with the first, along the way. Why is this important? Because one clue used sight, while the other had me stopping, turning my head, and actually listening for the solution. Using different senses to reach a conclusion is a hell of thing to experience in VR.
A Good Looking Work in Progress
I would never want to judge a concept demo on their graphics or audio. After all, that is not the point. However, ManMade really shows off the power of motion capture and using a real actor. Yes, the world look fine, but the way the character moved and sounded really managed to sell the scene. That was impressive, unfortunately it is under sold by a camera system that needs some love.
One of the games key features is a cinematic VR camera that mixes a first and third person perspective. In its current state, this translates to a third person camera angle that stays put, allowing you to move your character around objects. The first person view can be toggled, and allows you to examine objects more closely. Unfortunately, the third person view does not follow the player, and requires you to manually re-center it. On top of that, you have no swing control to the camera angle. The first person view, on the other hand, is only usable while your not moving.
I was about to write this entire feature off, when something struck me. The whole time I was playing this demo, I kept getting a vibe but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. It wasn’t until I took a long look at how the camera and gameplay worked together, that I was able to wrap my head around it. With a little tweaking to the way the camera works in conjunction with the movement and events that take place, this game gives off a real Metal Gear Solid vibe.
The Early Days
Being a concept demo, I can’t judge whether or not the game will be fun or frustrating. What I can say, based on what I played, is that this has real potential to be something that stands out among other VR games. The story is unique, the setting is interesting, and the gameplay has the potential to take some much loved classic game mechanics and bring them into VR.
My one gripe about this demo is a feature that the developers admit is a work in progress. After realizing how close this system is to capturing something that is so familiar and loved in 2D games, but giving it all the benefits of VR, it is hard for me not to be a little excited. So, I will eagerly be watching as this Kickstarter campaign progresses. If you would like to check out what ManMade has to offer, be sure and stop by and check out the projects page. As always, happy hunting VR gamers.