Cyan World’s Myst is regarded as one of the most revolutionary and influential PC games of all-time for good reason. It ushered in a new era of gaming with the CD-ROM format and pushed boundaries of what was visually possible on existing PC hardware at the time. In many ways, Obduction, Cyan World’s previous game, did a lot of the same things for VR gaming that Myst did for PC gaming.
However, Obduction wasn’t a full commitment. Since it was both a VR and non-VR title it wasn’t able to take full advantage of the medium and initially released without roomscale or motion controller support. To this day it still suffers from technical issues. Firmament, the next project from Cyan Worlds, aims to remedy all of those mistakes.
We first caught wind of the new game a few weeks before GDC and finally got our hands on the game at the conference in San Francisco, CA. While it’s still a very early prototype of the game, clearly the team learned a lot from their work on Obduction. Firmament is built from the ground-up to be a VR-exclusive title.
My demo was on the Oculus Rift using Touch controllers and even though it only lasted about 10 minutes total, I saw a lot of promise.
Specifically, it was an absolutely beautiful world. The ice-capped mountaintops and snow flurries in the distance felt like a wonderful change of pace from the dark, tainted landscapes of Obduction. If Skyrim were designed from the ground up again for VR, I feel like its enormous mountains and vast landscapes could learn a lot from Firmament’s environmental designs.
At the very start of the GDC demo my character is frozen alive in a block of ice. Things begin with a machine drilling me out of the ice and letting me explore a creepy old cave that looks like it could almost be part ornate mansion. You can see glimpses of the area in the screenshots and teaser trailer here.
I’ve only got teleportation for movement in the demo so I make my way down the hall and up a staircase to a small orb ingrained in a waist-high pedestal. Once I remove the orb it buzzes up into the air and follows me around. Lifting my hand up above my head calls the orb to me and I can even point at things for it to interact with in the distance.
Immediately the orb becomes part of the game’s puzzle solving. The next few minutes of the demo involve raising and lowering bridges to cross vast chasms. Nothing really stumped me at all and it was all very intuitive and simple to understand. I’d imagine the final game will include some of the classic head scratchers that Cyan’s games are always so well-known for.
Since Firmament is a VR-only game the way you explore and interact with the world is going to be different from the likes of Myst and Obduction, so I’m eager to see more. Unfortunately the onsite developer at GDC informed me the game is likely one or even two years away from release, so we’ll have to wait a while before we get to see the final product. In the meantime at least we’ve got Torn to look forward to.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below!