Exclusive: ‘The SoulKeeper VR’ Is a Glimpse Into The Future of Gorgeous Virtual Reality RPGs

by David Jagneaux • November 4th, 2016

It doesn’t take a whole lot to catch my interest on a personal level. If you ever see me at an event, walking down the street, or on Twitter, just mention a video game and I’ll probably have something to say about it. We can chat about The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, EverQuest, The Elder Scrolls, or anything else. If you were paying attention though, you probably noticed that every property I just listed off is based in some type of a traditional fantasy setting. That’s my sweet spot, although I love all genres.

Suffice it to say that Vanishing Realms [Review: 8/10] is still one of my personal favorite VR games and it has a lot to do with the setting, mechanics, and general premise of dungeon delving inside a virtual reality headset.

The SoulKeeper VR is a bit different in that it aims to provide a more visually immersive and overall more engrossing experience, but it taps into the same stylistic splendor that fantasy RPGs have become known for over the years.

I don’t mean to imply that The SoulKeeper VR will be on the same tier as the other properties I listed before such as D&D or The Elder Scrolls — it’s made by a small team, on a small budget, with modest ambitious — but it does serve as an exciting glimpse into the future of even more massive and ambitious VR RPGs we might see later on down the line and that’s extremely exciting.

soulkeeper-vr-upvr2

Earlier this year, I pulled back the curtain on The SoulKeeper VR and it’s changed a lot in the months since then. In the teaser trailer near the top of this article, you’ll notice several different types of enemies, spells, weapons, environments, and more. Luckily, I can confirm it looks just as epic inside the HMD.

For starters, this new demo featured a much-needed tutorial section. It walked me through how to use my staff, sword, and spells. The staff is accessed by reaching over my left should with my left hand and pulling the trigger — similar to switching weapons in other games like Space Pirate Trainer. From here, I can tap (as in lightly touch my finger to different areas) on the touchpad to switch between the different abilities on the staff, such as a flamethrower, a teleportation spell, and an energy shield.

Similarly, I reach over my right shoulder with my right hand to grab my sword, which I can use to cut down my foes up close. The ragdoll physics and lack of haptic feedback (a common problem in melee combat for VR) was a bit immersion-breaking, but I’d imagine those issues will get ironed out over time. When either hand is empty it can pick up objects and can also draw symbols in the air to access spells. The symbols have been simplified from things like boxes and swirls to arrows and lines this time around — they’re much easier to draw accurately and quickly now.

soulkeeper-vr-screenshot6

After I passed the tutorial, I played through a more polished version of the same demo as before. However, this time, the movement system has been expanded. Previously, I could only teleport using the staff, but now there is full optional touchpad locomotion, similar to Onward, that I much prefer since motion sickness does not impact me at all.  I still found myself teleporting to cover larger distances.

After I completed a simple puzzle and fought off a few enemies, the roof opened up with a mighty dragon and I was transported to a preview of a new environment, which you see in the featured image at the top of this article. The sky was dark and brooding, the cliffsides were steep and terrifying, and the massive statues were intimidating. This is the area that finally realizes the vision of a grand, immersive fantasy adventure that few VR games have accomplished thus far.

soulkeeper-vr-screenshot2

There were a couple small wyverns (small dragons) flying around a tower, but they didn’t seem hostile. Eventually, I got tired of their mocking me and slayed them with well-placed fireballs. After walking around outside a while longer, taking in the sights, I touched the large crystal at the center of the map and was met with an ending screen for my short demo.

This is still just a small slice of the world that HELM Systems is building, but fans of RPGs and fantasy games in VR such as Vanishing Realms, Roomscale Tower, and Sword Master VR, should keep their eyes on The SoulKeeper VR. Don’t be surprised if this ends up being one of the first robust, immersive, fantasy adventues you take in the metaverse.

When The SoulKeeper VR eventually releases into Early Access for a paid fee on Steam, it will be even more expanded than it is now. Currently, the alpha version of the game is being distributed exclusively to early subscribers. There is no definitive date set for the eventual Early Access other than “soon.” We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

You can also read our original story for more details about the lore and setting and keep track of the game on the official website.

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  • irPUGboss
  • usherjerksoffsonyfanboys

    damn can’t wait….

  • Lirezh

    The problem with ALL of these games:
    They make you puke your belly out.

    ANY walking using a controller makes you puke. Most people, like me, heavily affected by that motion sickness.
    The only way not to puke is teleportation or to actually walk in your real room (and that needs space, cabling, etc)
    One more techinque seems to be to jump around instead of walking, the brain seems to be ok with that as well but that kinda sucks ..

    As much as I want to see cool VR rpgs (with multiplayer would be awesome, mmo) I can not see the technology to get around motion sickness.

    There is light on the horizon!
    Games like Elite Dangerous (a big rip off company but a very decent VR demo) or Eve Valkyrie and racing games all proof that it is possible to move FAST in VR without sickness.
    The trick is that you are inside a car/ship/etc. The brain is used to stearing a vehicle/bike/car without sickness.
    So games needs to concentrate on that.
    Any movement should be with some sort of mount/car/similar environment to reduce sickness.

    • Pliskin

      As a VR Dev myself I see where you’re coming from and it makes sense. But how is Onward one of if not THE one highest played VR game which uses that movement system. Hopefully VR manages to fix that vertigo some time soon in the future. But if it comes down to compromising the game (teleportation can have a huge impact on the gameplay mechanics etc) by making sure that the game can be used by anyone. As harsh as it may sound I personally would have abandoned those players.

      • Wassoll Das

        “As harsh as it may sound I personally would have abandoned those players.”

        Thats abandone about 50% of the playerbase as some experiments (aswell as numbers released by the NASA and the Army) claim. Though, it may still be enough players.

        say its 140K VIVE players, so thats 70K players who are able to use artificial locomotion and 70K players who only can handle teleportation.

        Seems like, no matter what you do, you always abadon one half of the player base, because if you make it trackpad motion, you abandon the half that cant handle it and if you make it teleportaton, you abadon the half of the player base that can handle artificial locomotion and will not play any teleportation game. haha 😉

        • Lukimator

          Abandoning female players which will be less than 1% total doesn’t seem like a big deal, even if 100% of them couldn’t handle it

        • Uncle

          Its not even near 50%, I dont see that many comments on forums and VR sites against Classical controls, but when I do see someone from the Nausea clan posting, everyone and their mother gangs up on him, just like it happened here.
          I dont mind DUAL system of course, no reason not to, BUT if only one system can be supported than classical should get priority

      • Lirezh

        I think we can find other ways that need experimentation.
        It might be enough to place a 3d HUD around the player during movement.
        A stationary 3d environment that acts like a cockpit.

        I think you underestimate the issue.
        I’ve yet to try Onward btw, my oculus is shelfed while I wait for the Touch controllers.

      • Uncle

        You are 100% right, I think these people just a loud minority, im lurking a lot on VR forums and when someone speak of motion sickness and gimmicky teleportation movement overwhelming majority speak against it.
        I seen how people that got excited for a game (that tripple A game from 4A Tech) loosing ALL interest the moment they were told its Teleportation only.

        If you cant fly it doesn’t mean people have to build an airplane with legs for you.
        If dev can create both systems than OK, otherwise classic movement should get priority

    • Nathan Thorin

      As a developer that’s tested in public with over 1500 people, and seen the changes in hardware and software, I can safely say this is a very small margin of people. There is a growing audience of VR players that got their VR legs months ago, and are looking for more visceral free-move free-explore type of games.

      The ‘puke your belly out’ comments are mostly hype. We’ve never once had someone actually throw-up. It’s more of a 1 in 200 people suffer some dizziness that they can’t handle. The tweaks we’ve done to our control systems are enough that even people with regular motion sickness are comfortable with free-move in VR.

      That being said, we are ourselves working on an RPG. For the initial game we will be including a combination of free-move and teleport that the user can toggle easily between, even use as part of game-play tactics.

      In conclusion, we, and many other devs that have been doing this and testing extensively over the past 3 years feel there is a large enough crowd that is ready for a fuller VR experience. In fact, once you have your VR legs, it’s hard to go back to being immobilized, or having to be in a cockpit for all scenes.

    • Baggy MacDouche

      You seem to have completely missed the part of the article where he describes how BOTH types of locomotion are available to use. The
      methods used sounds a lot like The Solus Project as well.

      Along with reading comprehension, you might want to check that overstated personal opinion about locomotion. Yes, YOU have a problem with certain motion in VR. That does not mean everybody does, nor is it an inherent problem with the game itself. It’s a bit like saying, “This game is PC only. I don’t have a PC, therefore it should be ported to the platform of my choice.” Sure, it’s nice if it can be done, but not a requirement. Fortunately, for a lot of devs so far, it’s not such a black and white decision.

      Oh and Elite Dangerous=big ripoff company? How so? ED happens to be one of the most immersive and complete non-roomscale VR experiences you can have right now, providing countless hours of solid gameplay. Hardly just demo, despite that probably being your limited experience with it.

      • Travis

        Agreed, the only time I feel motion sickness while playing in VR is when I have an error with the transmittors not seeing my headset. It gets a little wonky and I lose my stepping. But other than that, I move around in VR quite easily. I rarely have that happen. So it’s purely based on the person.

    • sirlance

      Please don’t speak for everyone…i do not get motion sickness….if you can look up to the sky without getting dizzy, stay away from voicing your thoughts on VR

    • Robbie Zeigler

      Its not like that for everyone… I play coaster sims and have played one for an hour or so without issues as well as a space combat simulator doing barrel rolls and everything and never once was bothered by it.

      • Tom Daigon

        Ditto!

    • Andrew McEvoy

      “The problem with ALL of these games:
      They make me puke my belly out.”

      Fixed that for you 😉

      p.s damn shame that you are particularly sensitive motion sickness wise. You are one of the unlucky minority :/

    • Tom Daigon

      Played the closed alpha. Epic game potential here. Lirezh, I had no issues at all. Maybe you just need to avoid playing VR games with your weak stomach.

    • Uncle

      You are of the Nausea clan so speak for yourself.
      Most people HATE teleportation gimmicks and want regular Thumbstick control.

    • jimrp

      Dont ruin it for the rest of us.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      getting sick in eve… but not in Onward, everybody is different…

  • nargorn

    Why don’t you just write at the top the platform it is meant to be released on?? It would be so much more worth reading the entire article.

    • crazysapertonight

      HTC vive with oculus later. It is obvious

  • sirlance

    Locomotion is all I needed to hear…im sold

  • wheeler

    Not only smooth locomotion but locomotion “like Onward”! I can’t wait!

  • Uncle

    PSVR release?

  • jimrp

    Full movement. A must buy.

  • RodioR

    when when when?! I want to play it like… yesterday! 😀

  • Ean Clague

    I’m looking forward to seeing more of this game. Classic controls are a must though, as an option at the very least. Recently introduced extended family of 12 (incl. 2 grandparents…) to a range of VR games and no nausea at all. Very frustrating when the minority insist on speaking for all and end up influencing games, as seen recently with the disappointing Trackmania Turbo VR update.