Hands-On: Symphony of the Machine is a VR Puzzle Game About Changing the Weather
The great thing about VR games is that they can take the most seemingly trivial action and turn it into an immersive gameplay mechanic. Games like Bounce create an entire multi-hour adventure out of trying to get a ball into a hole. Audioshield asks you to punch colored orbs. And now Symphony of the Machine, an upcoming VR puzzle game by Stirfire Studios, wants you to bounce light off of mirrors to trigger a weather changing device. That’s it, but it can be pretty magical.
Symphony of the Machine was first created during the Global Game Jam last year with restrictions such as no violence, one-handed play, and the game’s story being communicated through its gameplay only.
I played a preview build of the game that lasted around 15 minutes, but the potential for a more complex experience was apparent. Things started in a seemingly desolate desert environment. I looked around and all I saw were brown mountains. There was a metal stand with a magical orb nearby. After placing the orb in the stand, things lit up. That’s how I learned my first game mechanic.
From there, the game taught me to point and click to utilize Blink teleportation as my movement system, with an arc emanating from my controller guiding my trajectory. I proceeded up a path between the mountains, making my way towards a massive tower in the distance.
Upon reaching the tower, I entered an elevator and waited as it slowly rose to the top, granting an incredible view of the game’s world. I could see for what felt like miles around me, but found myself a bit disappointed at the lack of environmental variation — it was just all brown desert.
In the tower there was what appeared to be a hovering robot of some kind that supplied me with objects I was meant to interact with, such as floating mirrors. I placed the mirror on top of the bright light beam blasting from the center of the tower and realized I could angle its trajectory towards various colored nodes around me. Each node resulted in a different change in the weather, such as making it sunny, cloudy, rainy, or windy.
Eventually I got the ability to plant seeds in floating pots that would sprout into flowers, but only if I followed their instructions for making them grow. Some needed water, then wind, and then rain. Others wanted a different order. Soon, I was able to split the beam into two beams and use multiple mirrors to bounce the light at more than one node at a time. It never got too complex to figure out, but the mechanics were slowly ramping up as I tinkered with the results.
From what I saw, Symphony of the Machine is beautiful to behold and intriguing to experience. The way the entire world around me shifts its weather patterns was mesmerizing and I found myself combining the nodes not only to solve puzzles, but also to marvel at the changing climate. Perhaps in the future, this same process can be used to add some color and variation to not only the plants floating around me, but the desolate world in which I inhabit as well.
Symphony of the Machine is currently slated to arrive on HTC Vive and PlayStation VR (PSVR) in Q1 of 2017, so essentially within the next month or so. Pricing and other details aren’t available at this time, but you can find more information about the game on the official website.