Despite the suggestive naming, Lucid Trips isn’t an experience that tries to mimic the effects of taking psychedelics, but instead explores the wonders of geocaching in VR. The concept isn’t all that different to an egg hunt, but the whimsical surroundings and floaty mechanics make it more than just that.
You may recognize the VR Nerds team, developers of the title, as German VR news writers rather than a group of VR game makers, but the small team have been working on Lucid Trips for over two years now, and the product that launches on Early Access today has come a fair way since its inception.
Despite being one of the most active and fast-paced games in VR with regards to in-game movement, Lucid Trips isn’t a room scale game. While playing, you’re either seated or stand in one spot. Starting off with the tutorial, players gain valuable practice for how they interact with and explore the small, blank planet they are placed on. To get about players drag and slap their hands on the planet’s surface, which shifts their gravity-defying orientation. You’ll have to locate the shortest route in order to find the precious glowing egg.
Movement isn’t as crude as it may sound; players gently fly through the air with minimal motion sickness, as the edges of the screen narrow as you move, similar to the system in Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight. Once your prize has been seized, which is hard to miss as it emits a ripple of glowing energy, players use the grip buttons on the Vive controller to grab it and pop it up into their inventory, which appears as a hole in the air space just above them.
For the most-part, the ease of movement gave off a relaxing, yet primal, vibe in the way you either pull yourself forward or push up from the ground using only your hands. There’s little gravity to stop you gliding through your route. What aids the ease of movement is the addition of thrust that can be activated by pulling the triggers on the Vive controllers. This gives players a boost of momentum and simulates mini jetpacks underneath your hands, like flying around as Iron Man.
This gives you a welcomed boost of energy by propelling you through the light atmosphere at a greater speed. What’s more, you can soar like a bird when you stretch your arms out on either side of you and only half-press the triggers. It’s an immensely gratifying sensation as you’re finally moving at the pace you want to, rather than the sleepy, sluggish speed you achieve alone. Once the energy used to fly around has run out, you then touch your hands on the ground in order to suck up enough energy in the most beautiful way with glowing lights and neon orbs illuminating all around.
However, as much as the thrust helps you fight through lack of, it also creates frustration. That’s down to the short amount of usage time. I found myself scrambling mid-air, trying to save on the length of my journey by gliding until I was completely stationery. Then I had to bring myself back down to the surface to recharge my hands. These instances kept cropping up as clumsy breaks throughout my graceful flights, which grew laborious over time.
Once players move on from the tutorial gameplay mode, they’re taken to a much bigger and more complex planet which includes mountains and cliffs to scale and fly from, trees and flowers that pump life into the atmosphere, and water that you must avoid falling into. Mixed in with the atmosphere are traces of flight that act as hints to where the eggs may be, which can be a helpful indication with the more difficult puzzles.
When it comes to multiplayer, Lucid Trips does a great job in skipping over the problem that smaller and less-populated VR titles suffer from, which often lack the number of players to support simultaneous play. With Lucid Trips, however, you can play with others’ puzzles after they have created them through its asynchronous multiplayer mode, giving it the needed flexibility in order for players to actually experience multiplayer, let alone enjoy it. Looking through the list of puzzles left by other players, you can see the previous mileage taken to find the egg, and once completed you can leave the egg in another location for another player to find, which contributes to the geocaching element.
Lucid Trips is a small and simple gem that is surprisingly well-rounded for a title that is still in development, with impressive sights to see and mostly satisfying mechanics. This is a game that has been created for a relaxing time, but it could perhaps be shaken up and given more substance if timed trials are given a chance in later development.
You can download and play Lucid Trips on Steam now with official support for the HTC Vive and tracked motion controllers at the price of $7.99.