Most VR game developers try to create experiences that, at least on some level, reflect gaming elements that we’re used to or know. This helps create a sense of comfort and recognition while immersing you in a new platform that touches on more than one sense. However, there are some who dare venture beyond the realm of comfort to experiment with what VR can achieve. This includes doing away with everything we know and relate to, in order to let us experience a totally alien concept in a wholly new way. HOST developer, Garrett Fuselier is one such developer and he’s released his debut VR title for HTC Vive on Early Access on Steam earlier this week. So we decided to take a look at what this strange new title has to offer up for our senses.
In HOST you navigate through a surreal landscape as an alien whose ship just crashed on an unknown planet. The game sort of functions like an escape the room title, though much like it would be if you were lost in space in real life, you’re left alone with no instructions or goals. The game also doesn’t feature a menu or hint system and you’re simply left with your hands and a will to figure things out. This was slightly jarring at first, since I feel that we’re so used to getting some sort of help or user interface in games. But in actual fact, it served well in simulating that feeling of being isolated and alienated.
While the game isn’t very long, HOST still makes for a compelling experience. I wouldn’t say that this is a game for someone who’s looking to have a great time running around racking up score points, but it’s certainly a good option for anyone who wants to have their senses filled with a gooey, living and breathing alien world.
Check out my gameplay video:
There are no controls or buttons to push while playing HOST. If I wanted to get somewhere, I simply had to walk there. Which is why the game has a recommended play area of 3m x 2m – a rather large play space by most people’s standards. So if your play area is small, then you might not be able to play this game. I have a play area of about 2.4m x 2.5m and there were a couple of moments where I had to flatten myself against a wall to make it around a corridor or bend over a table to see into a new area.
The fact that the game makes use of full roomscale for you to get around and no controls beyond touching a fleshy wall and seeing it move does make for a really immersive experience. However, it also leads to some problems like a player’s room-scale not being large enough and a strange feeling of alienation from what you’re used to. The latter isn’t necessarily bad though. Because, as I said, this game does a great job of showing how much VR is capable of influencing your senses and immersing you in an experience.
So while there might not be much in the way of gameplay beyond some exploration and figuring out a couple of puzzles, HOST is a good example of how virtual reality should be taken on – with a new innovative approach that differs from traditional gaming. Because we already have access to traditional ways of gaming and don’t need a reiteration of the same thing with VR. Now is the time for developers to experiment with this new platform to find what will excite and attract new players, much like what Garret is doing with HOST.
HOST is available now on Steam for HTC Vive at $9.99, though you can get it for $5.99 before the launch discount ends on July 8th.