Oculus Go was made to be simple. Facebook’s first standalone headset doesn’t require a high-end PC, nor room for external trackers or space to walk around in. It wants to bring in millions of newcomers with an affordable price and a pickup and play interface. But the many hundreds of hours Oculus has no doubt invested into making Go as sleek (or perhaps the better term is ‘un-ridiculous’) as possible would be for waste if it didn’t have software made in the same vein.
They Suspect Nothing is very much created with those ideals in mind.
This is the latest Oculus Studios project from Coatsink, arguably one of Gear VR (and, in turn, mobile VR’s) most prevalent and prolific developers. Whereas the studio has recently dabbled with bringing classic gaming genres into VR with impressive results (Augmented Empire), They Suspect Nothing is a return to a more introductory strand of entertainment like Esper and A Nighty’s Sky, well-served by the polite slapstick silliness that Coastsink has honed over the past four years.
Robots rule the world, then, and they really hate humans. That’s bad news for you because you’re still made of flesh and blood, and you need to prove otherwise to your new overlords. 12 minigames are designed as tests to demonstrate your calculated efficiency and, wouldn’t you know it, they all double as effective showcases for Go’s motion controller. From what I saw you can swing a magnet around to drop bots off in the scrap yard, drag a pointer for a machine to scurry after and collect batteries, guide a massive metal dog in a VR twist on Hungry Hippos and more.
As you’d expect from a developer making its fifth VR app in partnership with Oculus, the game’s controls are intuitive, inviting playful fun that will have you pushing yourself. Directing a magnetic crane by simulating a joystick with your controller leaves just enough room for slippery error, which will make pursuing top scores in each of the three difficulty modes a challenge.
Probably my favorite of the lot was a robotic take on Surgeon Simulator, in which you have to fix machines as quickly as possible, memorizing the correct tools for the job despite ridiculous names that are so bafflingly British we wouldn’t be surprised if they were invented by Stephen Fry. It’s a manic marvel, juggling tools and digging out parts as quickly as possible, and sure to put a grin on anyone’s face. They Suspect Nothing seems to have no shortage of entertaining minigames that anyone could grasp in seconds. It’s easy to envision a family or friends passing around the headset, taking turns with the games, which is pretty much what Go itself is desinged for.
Not every game fares quite so well, though; steering a robotic dog around to gobble up smaller machines doesn’t feel quite so responsive on the control-front and could leave me feeling frustrated at times. At the same time, I couldn’t grasp the hook of a game in which you fire asteroids at a limited number of targets on a distant planet, though I only saw each game’s easiest difficulty.
The true joy of They Suspect Nothing, though, is rightly in the world around you. The robot haven you’re trying to infiltrate is filled with delights, mainly centered around the cast. There are three hub worlds for now, each holding four games along with a handful of other areas. Each has their own robotic companion to assess you, including a cheerful, muscle-bound scrapyard worker who’s never short on daunting words and a mechanical hydra that towers over you as she judges you. It’s in meeting these characters that the game earns its keep as a VR experience as opposed to, say, a minigame collection for the Wii. And, yes, that is Jim Broadbent you can hear in the trailer above, who lends his own brand of welcoming lunacy to proceedings.
They Suspect Nothing sees Coatsink remain expectantly on form, then. This isn’t something that those intimately familiar with VR will be rushing out to buy (and, arguably, neither is the Go itself), but instead a fitting starting line for anyone pulling on a headset for the first time. It’s your own way of infiltrating the VR ecosystem and getting started with an all-new platform.
They Suspect Nothing will be available at the launch of Oculus Go (whenever that is) and will also release on Gear VR.