Crystal Rift began its life as a Kickstarter project last fall aimed at bringing a grid-based dungeon crawler experience, complete with puzzles and scares, to VR. Since that time, the development team has been hard at work and now Crystal Rift appears ready for its Steam Early access launch, this month on April 20th.
So far the results of the development been fantastic, creating an experience that even in its Alpha was ripe with atmosphere with creative puzzles that work well for VR. The last time we saw this game was in December, with an early access Alpha distributed to Kickstarter backers and since then the team has worked to add a number of features for this Early access. Perhaps the biggest of these updates is the addition of the editor feature, which will allow for players to create their own dungeon puzzles to crawl through and share. The editor will be handled completely in game, meaning that you will be able to do world design in VR, which can be an utterly compelling experience. The modular, grid based, experience is core to the gameplay design, harkening back to classic games like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder.
It’s not just an editor though, the game itself is pretty great as well. The game does an excellent job using sound to help set the atmosphere, and the new early access edition should show that off even better with “a very talented composer” having been commissioned to create the game’s music. The game will include a narrative that will be told through “exploration, discovering dark secrets and following the path of those who have come before,” making use of a storytelling element that was key to the games that inspired it.
Horror is also a big part of the game, but it has the ability to be as big or as little of a part of the game as you wish. As someone who isn’t a big fan of jump scares, the number of them when I first played the game was a bit too much for me. But when I got to messing with the settings there was one that I found that made the experience so much better for me, a scares adjustment meter which allowed you to change just how many jump scares the game used as well as how much of the atmospheric horror elements (e.g. ghostly shadows on the walls, etc.) are displayed. This really makes it a game for everyone, which is important when you have a limited market to start with.
The Steam early access edition of the game will include the game’s first act, which will contain around 2 hours of gameplay. It will eventually be available on the Oculus Rift CV1, the HTC Vive, and the GearVR with no word yet on Morpheus support. The game’s developers, Jon Hibbins and Nick Pittom, are both “very excited and proud of what [they] have achieved with Crystal Rift,” and that they believe it is “an amazing experience.” From what I have seen so far, I have to agree. Let’s just hope I can turn the scare meter down enough to last the full two hours!