A new virtual reality game called Under Earth is being announced for an upcoming release by first-time developer, CrackerJack Games.
Under Earth is described by CrackerJack as an “interactive fiction” that will task you with solving “multilayered puzzles” while you manage resources in an atmospheric, science-heavy setting.
Here is CrackerJack’s full synopsis of the game:
40 miles under the Earth’s surface a large research and refinery facility has faulted. Attempts to raise communication with the installment have failed. The status of all fifteen workers stationed within the facility is unknown and unstable readings were reported before the facility went dark. Valvorta Industries’ board of directors elected to send an engineering specialist to assess the situation. The mission is ‘simple:’ repair the output from the facility and rescue the distressed/trapped workers.
You will accomplish this mission by using game mechanics that center around, “real world practical science and engineering concepts.” The focus for this game will be on exploration and ingenuity. It will not feature any type of combat, gunplay, or “active violence.”
From the trailer, synopsis, and screenshots, Under Earth looks to be VR’s take on a video game genre that has been gaining serious traction in the past couple of years.
Initially popularized by games like Myst and Riven in the mid-90s, “First Person Experience” (or, FPX) games are receiving more attention than ever thanks to a slew of well received recent incarnations such as Firewatch, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, Gone Home, and The Witness.
Sometimes known jokingly as “walking simulators,” FPX games prioritize atmosphere, story, environment, characterization, and puzzles over complex controls or frenetic combat. Coinciding with the rise of the FPX is the advent of Virtual Reality and the two seem tailor made for one another.
VR’s ability to immerse is a match made in heaven for an FPX’s capacity to do the same. Despite this inherit connection, very few VR FPX titles exist today. If its story, world building, pacing, and puzzles are up to snuff, Under Earth could become the game that popularizes the FPX genre on the revolutionary new platform that is virtual reality.
Under Earth will be playable in VR on the Oculus Rift but is not a VR only game. There is no firm release date yet from CrackerJack but they are currently engaged in a viral marketing campaign for the game’s fictional corporation Valvorta Industries.