A few weeks ago when reviewing Secret Sorcery’s Tethered I noted that there were curiously few god games for VR yet, especially on PlayStation VR. As it turns a great example of one such game has been on the platform since launch, it’s just not available in the west yet.
That game is O! My Genesis VR from Taiwan-based XPEC Entertainment, and it’s only available in Asia right now but it already supports the English language. It’s similar to Tethered in that you’ll get subjects to gather resources and pray to you to give you powers, but it takes advantage of VR in ways that Secret Sorcery’s debut doesn’t, making for something that’s unlike anything else on the platform.
In Genesis, the world you protect appears as a small sphere in front of you. It’s occupied by tiny penguin-like critters that will want to build homes and multiply (which they’ll do with disturbing regularity) but will need you to help them by growing trees and shielding them from threats. To do this, you use two PlayStation Move controllers as a pair of hands. You simply grab the planet and spin it to change your view, and hold hands over where you want to generate elements like rain and wind.
Water will sprout plants and trees while cyclones will blow away rocks to mine. To set your people gathering supplies, you simply pick them up and drop them by the resources. When idle, you’ll find your critters lazily going for a swim and meeting partners. That’s the basics of the game, but Genesis starts to get really interesting when it introduces dangers.
As I started to build my tiny civilization, I was suddenly alerted to incoming meteors, and shown their trajectory on the map. To stop them from destroying my buildings and killing my people, I had to place my hands over that trajectory, and block them.
Later on, hostile plants started to grow, emitting harmful gas. As this point I got my people to build a ‘Holy Torch’. This was simply a massive flame that I could pick up and then use to burn away the enemies. Brilliantly, my subjects also learned to do this after I killed the first plant, giving them a means of defending themselves.
Finally, a dinosaur egg appeared, and hatched an adorable but very hungry T-Rex. This was my favorite part of what I saw from Genesis. I had to get my subjects to build a giant blow gun that I could use to send the beast to sleep, but construction required a lot of resources and the site was very close to the creature. He’d chase my workers off and eat them if they got too close. To distract him (and this was something the game didn’t tell me to do) I picked up one of my workers and dangled him in front of the dinosaur’s face.
He took the bait, and would follow my left hand around as I used the other to help my workers. It was a kind of multitasking I hadn’t yet experienced in VR that made Genesis incredibly engaging and frantic. If the T-Rex tried to eat a subject, they’d grab it with their teeth and then toss is into the air to swallow, and at this point I could catch them to save them at the last minute. Once the blow gun was built I picked it up, aimed it at the dinosaur and took it down, then placed a worker on its back to tame it.
Completing tasks like this earned me stars, which I needed a certain number of to progress to the next level. Once I’d gained the minimum number, I could return to the planet to carry out extra tasks like taking down enemies in certain ways and even getting my subjects eaten, poisoned and squished by meteors. It’s safe to say the game has a fairly dark sense of humor.
Sadly, all that’s there now is little more than a demo. The current version of Genesis only has two planets with about 20 minutes of gameplay between them. XPEC is planning to release more, and hopefully it will hold off on a western release until the game is complete.
For now, O! My Genesis VR offers a glimpse of a potentially brilliant god game for PS VR. Its use of position-tracked controls are some of the most innovative I’ve yet seen, and have me wondering what other ways they could be applied. I’m looking forward to this one making its way west soon.