Building games for Gear VR is an exercise in making sacrifices. Limited movement tracking keeps software from being able to see a person leaning forward or bending down. Being powered by a Samsung phone, which is rendering a view for each eye, limits environments to the very simplest 3D spaces too. Faceted Flight by Matt Scott is proof these limitations don’t come at the cost of fun gameplay.
In Faceted Flight I found myself controlling a ship through treacherous canyons chasing that glorious feeling in any good flying game when you deftly navigate through a tight corridor and emerge unscathed on the other side.
While somewhat reminiscent of the Nintendo classic, Star Fox, Faceted Flight doesn’t feature shooting of any kind. For roughly 45 minutes across two sessions I used quick precision head movements to navigate a ship floating in front of me. That’s about the length of time it took me to complete the game by finishing all the courses. However, there is some reason to keep playing because the obstacles change with each play through and there’s a high score leaderboard on which to try and get your name.
Players are eased into the game with a few training courses to show how to navigate the landscape with head turns. There is a total of eight courses and three of them are for training, so the game could use some additional levels to make the $5 purchase more tempting. According to the developer, additional ships and courses are planned for the future.
Some Gear VR titles can only be played in a swivel chair or while standing, Faceted Flight doesn’t require that. I played it seated on a bed and all that’s needed to navigate through canyons are comfortable head turns left, right, up or down. I found the gaze controls intuitive and extremely comfortable. Once learned, it was a matter of honing my skill to move quickly enough to avoid a maze of obstacles in my path.
Overall, the $5 game built with Unity is a good low polygon ride with nice music. Scott, who has been working on the game “off and on” since January, used the unique depth capabilities of VR to make me feel a bit like Will Smith in Independence Day, with the wings of my ship just narrowly missing obstacles. When I was unsuccessful, and smashed repeatedly into the side of rock arches in between the canyon walls, I found myself yelling out in frustration. This only drove me to hone my skill and try again until I beat it.
Faceted Flight is available now in the Oculus Store on Gear VR.