Broken Window Studios has been away for a while. Personally, I’d started to wonder if their VR anticipated horror title, Grave, was even alive (pun intended) anymore.
Thankfully, the developer this week confirmed that Grave is very much still up and running, and expanding in an exciting new way for VR fans. While the main game is still a ways off, Broken Window will be releasing a VR-exclusive prequel, Grave VR, on the HTC Vive next month, with Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR editions to come. We’ve got the first footage of the story-driven survival game above, provided by Broken Window directly, and it looks like something that genre fans will want to get excited about. Make sure you watch until the end for one of the funniest VR reactions we’ve seen in awhile.
Grave VR is essentially a means to giving fans a taste of the full experience. You’ll still fight the same horrific enemies, still using sources of light as weapons, but VR support takes center stage, unlike the full game which can be played without. The spin-off will use some of the new technologies that have surfaced since it passed a Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014, like room scale tracking and position-tracked controls.
“So because Grave is more of a traditional game that supports VR, we’re looking at what we could do from our knowledge in VR to make something that’s really specific to a room scale experience,” developer Tristan Moore tells me when we speak over the phone. He compares it to a pretty obscure example; Rage HD. That was an iPhone spin-off of the full console FPS that released about a year before (and was something of a pet project for none other than John Carmack.) Grave VR is similar in concept.
“I figured that because that’s something I’ve seen some examples of it made sense for us to do sort of like a mini-release that is more focused on specific aspects of VR control interface to get it out in time for Halloween and then basically have the full release of Grave next year,” Moore explains.
But Broken Window still doesn’t consider this a cut down experience or any sort of tech demo. Moore considers it to be somewhere between Phosphor Studio’s Brookhaven Experiment and the full Grave. You’ll get all the intensity of the latter as you use torches, matches and more to defend yourself against swarms of supernatural enemies, but you’ll also be able to progress through levels in a two to four hour experience.
Moore tells me that “we don’t like the idea of a game that’s just about standing there and surviving tons of waves and the same repetitive actions. So we’re setting it up as there’s a bit of a Myst-like level progression system where essentially you look to the area you want to go and then we have like a little bit of a radial setup.”
Essentially that means you’ll travel from node-to-node (Moore is eager to avoid the term ‘teleporting’) throughout levels, also opening up side areas for you to explore. “We really wanted to make sure it felt like something that is a condensed version of a real game rather than something that is like a very repetitive process of playing the same thing over and over again.”
Look for Grave VR to hit just before Halloween at a price of $19.99 with a discount for the launch window. As for the main experience, we’ll have more to share on that and Broken Window’s third title, Reflections, soon. For now, though, it’s just good to know that Grave still walks among us, and we’ll get a taste of it very soon.