When I walked into the demo booth at Oculus Connect 3 yesterday for Ready at Dawn’s mysterious Oculus Touch VR game, I really had no idea what to expect. The studio’s last major release, The Order: 1886, is a cinematic third-person shooter and their previous games consist of entries in the God of War series and more.
Instead of fighting off Greek Gods or monstrous beasts, I was treated to something much more personal and intimate. The game Ready at Dawn has been teasing is now known as Lone Echo and it’s looking amazing.
In Lone Echo, you take on the role of an advanced A.I. unit named Jack that, for all intents and purposes, could pass as a human. Your primary companion converses with you throughout the game and the flexible dialogue system allows you to explore relationships and conversations unlike most other VR games on the market.
The majority of VR experiences seem content with merely delivering a small, replayable gameplay loop around a central premise without much of a story or setting to back things up. However in the case of Lone Echo, it immediately felt like a more thoroughly designed world.
As you move through the world, every small movement is packed with inertia and momentum. I reach out in front of me using the Oculus Touch controllers and place my hands on walls and different objects. Holding the trigger lets me use my hands as pseudo-suction cups that I can release as I push forward. The wrist area of my hands also served as mini-jets, which can be pointed to create momentum and movement through the air.
The demo I played was only a short sample, but it consisted of exploring an obstacle course as I floated around the environment. After that, I had to realign a satellite signal on the back of a shuttle. This moment, where I looked up and saw the entirety of space before me, took my breath away.
Lone Echo is being developed as a slow-paced, narrative adventure game with a heavy focus on NPC interaction and story elements. Characters have incredibly detailed faces and some of the best voice work I’ve seen in a VR experience so far.
My time with Jack was brief, but exciting. Using VR as a device to peer into a fictional future is enticing, but doing so to also peer into the head of a robot is something else entirely. During my chat with the team, they made it clear that the story will touch on several nuanced themes and conditions, such as what it means to be human, throughout.
A multiplayer mode will be in the full game as well, but this short demo only focused on the single player content. Something that utilizes the game’s excellent physics, momentum, and inertia engines feels like a quite obvious choice for online play, though.
Lone Echo is currently in development for the Oculus Rift and Touch with no clear release date scheduled, but you should expect to learn more about the game in the coming months.