There’s a free demo for an Oculus Quest game named Vanishing Grace available on SideQuest right now, and it promises much more than your usual tech demo fare.
In fact, if you’d told me Vanishing Grace was actually an Oculus Store release, I’d have probably believed you. Developed by a four-person team named Monte Perdido Studio, Vanishing Grace is a narrative-driven adventure game in which you play as Joel. You’re on the hunt for Grace, a childhood friend that set out on her own to discover a post-apocalyptic world.
Commandeering her desert-cruising hovercraft, you cover terrain whilst maintaining the vehicle. Playing the 10 – 20-minute demo, the game evokes obvious hints of other story-driven games like Firewatch and survival maintenance experiences like Far: Lone Sails. Sure enough, upon returning to the email alerting me to the game, I found those two mentioned by name as key inspirations. Check out the trailer below.
Much of the game takes place on this craft (though Monte Perdido adds that there will be opportunities to explore other environments). This being a story-driven game, it’s littered with props and items that flesh out Vanishing Grace’s world and characters quite nicely. Diary notes from Grace help explain some of what you’ll discover, but the demo leaves plenty left to investigate. There’s also an appreciated touch of fun with easter eggs like a Tamagotchi with a Baby Yoda living inside and a workable VR camera. It’d be nice to be able to pick up everything in the environment instead of just selecting a handful of items, though perhaps that will change for the full game.
More promising are the interactions, which have some unique takes on VR gameplay. To power the craft, you harvest natural resources using, of all things, a boomerang. It’s heavily automated, but throwing it feels simple and intuitive, and makes great sense as a device that lets you extend your reach beyond your physical and virtual limitations. Smart implementations like this suggest Vanishing Grace may be something special.
Mostly, though, Vanishing Grace just offers a great space to explore in VR. The craft’s interior has thoughtful touches, yes, but standing out on deck and watching the shining sands of the desert around you, punctuated by the remains of a lost civilization, is a real treat. Though the game has an element of management about it — I have to fix a leak whilst making sure the engine doesn’t overheat at one point — I’m hoping there will be a lot of downtime like this, too.
Monte Perdido Studio told me it had been working on Vanishing Grace for nearly a year, and that it hopes to launch the full experience as a four – five hour game in Q4 of this year for $14.99. The team hopes to arrive on the full Oculus Quest store and is also planning to launch it on Rift with possible support for PSVR in time.