Puzzle games have become a staple in many VR libraries. In fact, if you own a VR headset and haven’t played a puzzle game of some sort before then I seriously commend your ability to avoid puzzle games. Anyhow, there are quite a few out there that combine puzzles and a great story to create an immersive and fun game that offers a few hours diversion. FORM from Charm Games comes to mind, as does XING: The Land Beyond and the African-themed Rangi.
Innocent VR from NineD Digital and Nuclear Studio is hoping to join these games in the ranks of great puzzle VR games. So since it recently released for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, I decided to give it a try. The game certainly showed great potential, but unfortunately, it fell short of greatness into the pit of mediocrity with bugs, poor gaming mechanics and, poor design choices.
Check out my short gameplay video below:
If you watched the video above, you’ll see that I spent most of it trying to get past a game-breaking bug only to be stopped by a puzzle that was outside of my room-scale area. Which was extremely disappointing – given that the game showed promise in terms of its worldbuilding, visuals and puzzle mechanics.
Starting out the game, I found myself in what looks like an abandoned lab. After getting a little flying robot powered up, he informed me that I’m one of the last humans alive after humans have near caused the destruction of the earth which lead to catastrophic natural disasters, stronger viruses and the eventual decline of humanity. It’s not a new or unique concept by any means, but Innocent VR definitely succeeds in creating a believable doomsday atmosphere. My little robot friend’s animations, as well as the other environmental effects, were extremely well done and I could definitely appreciate the amount of effort put into that.
No Running Away From These Problems
While the worldbuilding and visual quality of the game were good, it’s mechanics left something to be desired. Innocent VR makes use of fixed teleportation to take you around the various locations and worlds you visit. Yes, the game has a mysterious element to it that not only lets you teleport between worlds, but also gives you strange powers to use, like the ability to slow time. These powers serve to help solve puzzles and progress in the story.
Anyway, the fixed teleportation was off-putting at times, storywise, because the story has a very linear progression and the teleportation follows that. Meaning that I had to complete a puzzle or wait for the flying droid to finish his sentence (which he usually cut off in the middle for some reason) to then fly off in a direction before I could teleport there. This seemed silly at times, especially when things get hectic and the robot is urging me to hurry but I’m stuck waiting until the next teleport location appears.
Look At All This Space I Have
The room-scale in Innocent VR was another problem. While the game doesn’t say how big of an area you need to play, the developers did state in a Steam discussion board that you need at least 1.5m by 1.5m. Which doesn’t seem to fit my experience, considering I have a 2.5m by 2.4m play area but I still couldn’t complete some of the puzzles because they were beyond a wall or under a table in real life. Honestly, it ruined the whole experience because every time I get a little further I have to figure out a way to reach something outside my play area again. I even tried to redo my room setup a couple of times just to see if that helps. It didn’t.
I honestly think that the developers could have done away with the fixed teleportation if they wanted such a large play area because most people don’t have that much space to play in. If I could have at least teleported to where I wanted in the game, then maybe I could have finished it. But as it stands, trying to progress in the game was just too frustrating.
Promising Gameplay Just Out Of Reach
I simply couldn’t get a good enough impression of all the puzzles in the game to judge them accurately. So I can’t pass an accurate judgment of what is, arguably, the main focus of – it’s puzzles.
However, the puzzles and other game mechanics that I did get to see where varied and simplistic for the most part. Though not so simple that I was bored. Rather, they had an intuitive sense of linear progression to them, much like the rest of the game. For instance, you can pick up a cog that’s pointed out to you, which you then use to replace a broken cog inside a machine. But there are some pieces missing, which you find in vases lying around said machine. By breaking the vases you get the pieces and voilà. Well, that wasn’t very descriptive, but I think you get the general idea.
Overall, the small impression of Innocent VR that I got showed promise but at the end of the day it’s wonky mechanics and bugs just ruined that spark of interest. Innocent VR is a puzzle adventure that could have been great, had it not been hampered by poor game design choices. However, if this game looks up your alley and you think you have a large enough play space then do give it a try. Maybe you can tell me how the story ends.
Innocent VR is available now on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift at a $9.99 price tag.