InCell dazzles with visual brilliance but falls short in finding an identity
Nival VR’s is no stranger to ‘serious games’ in VR. Their first game, InMind, drew some very positive reviews as it took you on a journey inside of the human brain. Their latest title – InCell, available today on Steam, follows a fairly similar premise.
You are a scientist in the future tasked with piloting a ship that has the ability to shrink itself down to a scale small enough to enter the body at the cell level. Your mission is to eliminate the viruses attacking various parts of the cell by racing them to the center of the nucleus.
The gameplay is very simple, you pilot your ship along the cell junctions using your head to turn as you race to beat the virus to the different parts of the cell, rolling around a cylindrical track with rotating barriers and speed boosts. Sound familiar?
InCell’s somewhat unoriginal gameplay is nothing new in the world of serious games, but usually it is paired with more educational value. Playing through the experience I didn’t leave feeling much more knowledgeable about cells than I did going in. The experience gives some background on the various parts of the cell as you play through, but these facts are sparse and aren’t clearly connected to the gameplay in a way that is readily apparent.
What InCell is really missing at this point are longer periods of education on the different parts of the cell, followed by mini games that reinforce the main points learned. An approach like that would have been far more effective in achieving the goals the team set to achieve. Right now, however, InCell is a relatively fun racing game with great visuals and some facts thrown in.
It is also worth noting the game right now feels fairly early as there were still a number of kinks that needed to be worked out.
In our hands on experience we were first greeted with a notice apologizing for “known problems with the positional tracking camera” and advising us to unplug it. Playing through with it on there was significant drift in perspective, but we found that even when off it had some difficulty This was one of a few bugs we had playing through, so hopefully it is something
Overall InCell is not a bad experience, far from it. While the gameplay doesn’t feel fresh it still is fun and the visuals definitely save it a bit as the inside of the cell environments are really impressive to see in VR. We would have definitely loved to have seen a bit more polish for the release, however, as well as a stronger emphasis on the educational aspects of the game.
InCell is currently available in the Steam Store for $4.99.