Is it just me or do lots of developers struggle with scale in VR? Sure it’s amazing to see massive spaceships and enormous cliffs towering above you for miles beyond, but texture work and lack of focal variation can often make things seem a little awkward. Proze’s brief prologue, though, has no such issues.
There’s a moment in the taster demo, which can be completed in less than five minutes, in which you step out into some snowy wastes and see what looks like an army of pylons stretching up in front of you. Your vision is obscured by a harsh blizzard that surrounds you with the wind whipping at your ears. It makes for a truly breath-taking vista, which is something that’s getting increasingly harder to pull off as we become further acquainted with current VR headsets. It also suggests the coming game will boast similarly impressive moments.
Other than that, there’s not much to mine at here.
Proze seems to play like a pretty standard VR adventure game. There’s a single puzzle in the demo, which requires you to log into a computer inside a mysterious Russian facility for an equally ambiguous research project known as DUGA. Find your name, find a password, both helpfully lying about the environment, and you’re good to go. Once you retrieve a certain item from an NPC after that, the demo is pretty much over.
Though brief, I was impressed with the detail of Proze’s environments, that lend a lot of authenticity to the grimy Soviet setting. Sticky oil puddles drip onto the floor and Cold War-era communications equipment is thrown around at random. Very little of it is interactive, which is a shame after enjoying the sheer amount of little details in last week’s Torn, but it’s a convincing bit of scene building nonetheless.
I only wish the prologue had given us a bit more sense of the story. A bit of exposition at the end bridges the gap between your current setting and where you’ll pick up in the first real installment, but there weren’t enough hints to have me really wondering what was going on. Instead, I still find the above trailer for the full game a more enticing glimpse of what Proze is going to offer.
If this demo fails as a story snippet, though, it’s still a fortunate test-bed for the game’s bugs. Proze has an solid full-body avatar with convincing arm movement replication though it’s very easy to display yourself in your character’s body and end up slightly behind his chest. There’s also no support for 360-degree tracking, so your character only responds to changing the camera via the controller, and the incredibly annoying FOV-restrictor can’t be turned off for those of us that don’t suffer from VR sickness so easily. Releasing this demo now will hopefully mean the main game won’t share the same issues.
Speaking of that release, Proze is going to be an episodic series with the first installment arriving in November. Though the prologue doesn’t give away much I’m still excited to see what becomes of SignSine’s curious start.
Proze: Prologue is available now for free on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.