It’s a little surreal to be stepping back into the world of Eden Tomorrow. I first tried this new VR adventure game back at Gamescom 2015. Its depiction of an alien planet enraptured me. It focused on discovery just as much as it did danger. But it’s been four years since then. You might think the magic had faded by now.
Today’s new demo suggests it hasn’t.
Eden Tomorrow is shaping up to be the closest thing we’ll get to a Robinson: The Journey sequel. But, with any luck, it’ll be even more than that. This seems to be a game that isn’t afraid to, well, make you afraid. The 20-minute gameplay slice available now on PSVR is book ended by two close encounters with an alien dragon, and there’s a springy jump scare towards the end that won’t please those with a fear of needles. But its willingness to alarm contributes to its intrepid spirit.
This feels like Robinson but perhaps without the training wheels, a game that really wants to make you feel on edge. Within minutes of starting, I’m frozen on the spot by the steely glare of a monster that fancies me for its lunch, helplessly (and embarrassingly) shrieking a little when it takes a snap. Later on I’ve got my back against the wall as I traverse a bottomless canyon, and I’m throwing my head from side-to-side as I balance over beams. These were dangers we didn’t see until the last hour of Crytek’s VR adventure all introduced in the game’s opening.
It’s darker, too. There’s a lot more death in Eden Tomorrow, which suggests the story might tread more interesting ground. Hopefully it transcends the obvious movie influences and finds something genuinely new.
The Robinson comparisons don’t end with the setting and genre, though. You’ll sometimes control a floating AI companion named Newton, who bears a striking resemblance to HIGs. That’s not to say he’s a carbon copy; he’s got his own level of charm in how his three-pronged claws flutter and float, erratically jumping in and out of storage panels like an awkward Briton that doesn’t know what to do with his hands. No points for guessing which way his accent leans, then.
Visually the game probably won’t ever match Crytek’s lush jungles and boggy swamps. But that’s not to say Eden Tomorrow doesn’t show promise. Environments are impressively detailed and sharp and character and creature animations are convincing. The color palette is somewhat monochrome in the demo but hopefully that’ll change. I’m looking forward to seeing what developer Soulpix does when it really flexes its muscles.
The question right now is if the developer can deliver on the promising start. As VR has matured these older, gamepad-driven adventure games have begun to feel dated. And there are traces of that here, including awkward transitions to simple actions. Sliding on a slope, for example, has the screen and music fade out before you slip down, and then does so again. It’s just a little disconnected and jarring.
Quite of bit of hope in this one, then. Soulpix says the full version of Eden Tomorrow will launch in Q1 2019 and will last around four to five hours. We’ll have final impressions around then.