‘Rangi’ is a VR Puzzle Game from Ex-Ubisoft Devs That Lets You Explore Mythical Africa

by David Jagneaux • January 16th, 2017

In the fervor of the holiday season surrounding the release of PlayStation VR and Google Daydream, followed by the Oculus Touch controllers and the never-ending onslaught of new games and experiences on the Steam marketplace, it’s easy to forget about Samsung’s Gear VR. At CES 2017 it was quietly announced that they’d sold over 5 million headsets to date, purportedly putting them at the top of the food chain in terms of sheer market penetration, along with a surprisingly deep and diverse library of content.

Early adopters of PC-based VR and industry enthusiasts might be focused on more powerful alternatives, but the Samsung Gear VR appears to be the little headset that could and it keeps on pushing. That’s why stylish, new releases on the device, such as Rangi, should not fly under your radar.

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Rangi is a visually beautiful upcoming puzzle/adventure title in development by Funsoft, published by Digigo. At first glance, it looks a bit reminiscent of other mobile VR titles such as Land’s End or Esper, with a unique mythical African twist.

From a gameplay perspective, you spend your time solving puzzles by interacting with objects such as ruins and exploring a detailed ancient environment. You can tell from the trailer above that solutions often involve lining up runes and lines to connect currents of energy, which all feeds back into the central narrative of the game’s world.

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The development team is located in Casablanca, Morocco and is actually made up of several ex-members of Ubisoft Casablanca. “We sought to create in Rangi a strong relationship between the puzzle-based gameplay and African tribal art,” said Fabien Delpech, Creative Director at Funsoft in a prepared statement. “The level design entices players to interact with a multitude of elements within the environment, which makes the VR experience even more meaningful. Rangi is a truly unique mobile game due to it drawing inspiration from African music, folklore, and art, and we know that gamers will love playing it as much as we’re enjoying creating it.”

From what I’ve seen so far, the narrative is rather esoteric and cryptic in its delivery, insisting on a decidedly obscure presentation, which all lends itself well to the established setting. The music utilizes the 3D audio of the Gear VR very well to create an encompassing all-around you feeling.

The lack of position tracking continues to make the Gear VR feel inferior to the PS VR, Vive, and Rift, but that’s not Rangi‘s fault. It just so happens that the game delivers a rich world with such great visual individuality that you’ll often find yourself wanting to lean in and get a closer look even though you can’t.

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Despite it all, Rangi isn’t going to be a game for everyone. It leans heavily on its stylized visuals, entrancing music, and thought-provoking gameplay to provide a deep and rewarding puzzle experience, but it’s far from the next great narrative masterpiece from what I’ve seen. Fans of the excellent Land’s End and challenging Esper series will feel right at home and should certainly keep their eyes on Rangi as it continues development.

Funsoft is planning to release Rangi for Gear VR early this year in 2017. You can find more information on the official website.

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