This week will see solo developer Wolfgang Tschauko take the next step required to see the project he has been working on for the last three years, co-op adventure VR Giants, come to life; a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. The title has appeared at events in various forms over the years and now Tschauko wants to expand the team, make VR Giants prettier for an official launch on Steam. The Kickstarter will feature a single level to demo, giving backers a better idea of the gameplay but it has been given access to a few more to sample the co-op mechanics further.
Co-op titles have always been great ways for friends to team up and that essence has been used to unique effect across a range of VR experiences, not just headset to headset but also between VR and non-VR players. Early examples of this were seen in PlayStation VR’s The Playroom VR while a recent one would be Carly and the Reaperman. Unlike the latter, VR Giants is purely co-op, directly playing upon the need for both players to work together or else progression is impossible.
VR Giants plays upon the classic David and Goliath dynamic where the giant seems to be the most powerful yet in actuality isn’t. The non-VR players controls the tiny David, running around collecting coins to unlock a castle which blocks the next area. Naturally, these coins are located in areas either too high or barred by some immovable object which is where the big guy comes in. The VR giant doesn’t have free run of the level however, tethered to certain points in the area. Movement between these can only be activated by David using a nearby switch.
But the VR player does have full roomscale movement to wander around their limited area, grab useful items or pick David up when required. Which makes for plenty of effort on the VR players part. From that lofty height you get a great view of the overall scene, helping convey where your buddy should go next and what they need to look out for. Because the giant is impervious, able to grab volcanic balls of rock to smash items apart whilst spikes, lava and other dangers can kill David instantly.
So the giant can use wooden planks, boxes and its hands to transport David wherever needed. It’s a mechanic which truly unites both players in the adventure, David’s life is literally in the giant’s hands. With VR Giants still needing development it does look graphically very basic – hence the Kickstarter to employ an artist – yet the puzzles offered a nice variety of both mental a physical challenges. As the giant, you’re having to constantly bend down to help the smaller player or throwing/moving objects. As David, it’s all about precision jumping and correctly placing yourself to aid the giant’s efforts.
The only thing that makes some of the gameplay awkward at this stage is the low gravity feeling all the objects have. Moving or placing a wooden plank has a soft, floaty sensation, so everything has a slight bounce to it; not always good if David is on said plank! So a simple puzzle can become slightly more long-winded if the process is rushed.
From what they have seen so far VR Giants is shaping up very well from both perspectives. Playing as the giant is the most rewarding as there’s generally more to do. Plus, with no locomotion to worry about means that it should be a comfortable experience for any player. VR Giants presents a passion project that neatly blurs the lines between VR and non-VR gaming, and while there’s still a way to go it’ll be interesting to see how Tschauko further explores his idea.