GDC 2018: Hands-On With Intense Combat-Focused RPG Gargantua

by David Jagneaux • March 21st, 2018

I’ve demoed a lot of VR games over the years. Some of them never get released, some of them actually get finished, and some of them still wallow in limbo somewhere between Early Access and Completed Project. Regardless of how the game ends up though, it’s very rare that a VR game really impresses me anymore. I’ve seen most of the mechanics people try to use for tricking the brain and I’m seldom surprised. Gargantua from Yomuneco on the other hand is a game that surprised me.

Going into my demo at GDC 2018 I knew very little about the game or company. As it turns out, Yomuneco is partnered with Gumi and is made up of veteran AAA Japanese developers that have credits on games like Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, Guilty Gear, Shadow of the Colossus, Grandia, The Last Guardian, Lunar: Silver Star Story, and several others. Now they’ve got my attention.

Gargantua is being designed as a co-op focused action-RPG with a heavy emphasis on intense, visceral combat. The multiplayer will be class-based and feature a variety of weapons, upgrade paths, and abilities to develop over the course of the game. For the sake of my demo, I was just a relatively standard melee fighter without any bells or whistles.

The demo began in a dark, drab dungeon environment that served as a lite tutorial. I was playing on an Oculus Rift using Oculus Touch so the control sticks let me move smoothly across the environment and snap rotate to adjust my view. When in combat there was a clever dodge mechanic at play that, when toggled, let me take a step either forward, backward, or to either side using my actual feet to trigger a quick dash move. This was nifty during combat because it let me get out of the way of attacks and close distance for melee strikes. When moving the FOV dimmed and narrowed to cut back on motion sickness, which they said could be toggled for the full game.

In terms of melee combat, Gargantua has one of the better systems I’ve seen in a VR game so far. The physics system detects when your weapons collide with other solid objects (such as enemy bodies, weapons, or walls) and causes your weapons to stop moving. This is a big change from most other VR games in which your swings just pass through everything as if they were translucent, like Skyrim VR. When I slash a bandit in that game it feels like I’m cutting air, but in Gargantua the haptic feedback and visual stoppage of my weapon really communicates another level of intensity.

Perhaps even more unique than the weapon collision system is that you can lock the camera onto enemies while you’re fighting as well. This works a lot like it does in Zelda or Dark Souls games, meaning a reticle appears on the enemy and it helps focus your sight on them while they move around, so you can do things like strafe and flank enemies. It was a little bit jarring at first to have the camera moving a bit beyond my head tracking control, but I quickly adapted to the movement. It feels like a great way to ensure that the first person melee combat goes smoothly.

My only taste of combat came in the way of a single room with waves of enemies descending upon me over time. The developers mentioned that these sorts of encounters aren’t planned for the full game, but are just there for demo purposes, which I sincerely hope is true since I’ve had my fill of wave-based encounters in VR.

It was a bit difficult to tell if my block was successful or if the enemy was hitting me since the visual effects were often red in both cases. There were some minor bugs here and there as well, which is to be expected. The dungeon and outdoor environment that I explored both had a strong sense of scale with beautiful scenery, waterfalls, and white stone designs. That’s fitting since it’s the level designer also worked on The Last Guardian.

Unfortunately I only got to try a single player tease of the game, but playing Gargantua with up to three other people seems like an ideal arrangement, especially once other classes are added into the mix.

The developers at Yomuneco tell me that they’re planning to release a free, small demo version of Gargantua on itch.io “very soon” with an Early Access release to follow near end of summer. The full game is planned to launch around the end of the year for both Rift and Vive. A PSVR version is being investigated, but there are no firm decisions for that version yet.

Let us know what you think of Gargantua so far down in the comments below!

Correction: A previous version of this article stated a PSVR version was already in development, however it’s simply being “investigated” at this time.

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