Curious Alice is a very nice little VR adventure, created by ViveArts for its showing in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser” exhibition. While I might not be able to make it to London to see the incredible looking museum, I can certainly afford a Viveport Infinity subscription for my Oculus Quest 2 to play the Curious Alice experience.
The art of each level of Curious Alice is hand-painted with a whimsical and psychedelic look that just smells perfectly on-key of the trademark Alice in Wonderland absurdity we’ve grown accustomed to over its portrayal over the years. The game’s music was perfect as well, though, I can’t give full credit to its sound design – there was an issue where in one scene a voice line kept playing on loop if I didn’t press a button right away. I do suspect this issue was to blame on the consideration of running an actual-world showcase alongside it, but it doesn’t remove the frustration.
I really enjoyed Curious Alice, and will definitely recommend it. Interested readers can download it from Viveport or Steam for Vive or Oculus headsets.
Star Shaman is an indie VR first person shooter roguelike from Ikimasho that offers its players a lot of unique style and energy. In the trailer the developer released at launch, we see a woman dancing some crazy moves as she plays through a level in ways that really inspire me – Will I have as good a time as her? Probably not, but I’m going to damn well try!
At its core, Star Shaman plays fairly similar to something like Space Pirate Trainer. For the uninitiated, this means you stand in one spot and are dodging incoming fireballs and missiles and using an arsenal of weapons to shoot down a variety of enemies that come in waves.
There are some pretty big differences here though. In Star Shaman, you’re actually moving between levels – though all start out looking the same at the beginning of the game for reasons that suit the story. The most major mechanical difference in the actual fights is that we have to summon our weapons to use them against enemies while dodging their attacks. This actually added a lot to the gameplay, as the motion of summoning my gun became part of my groove with dodging. I really felt in tune with the music in a way most typical rhythm games don’t give me.
There are more weapons and upgrades that are unlocked by continuing to play the game. You see, Star Shaman is roguelike in the style of FTL where players progress through tiers of battles at set difficulties with some story mixed in, until the next tier unlocks. The game advises us to be careful about going too far, but I’m still a little confused about how the progression works. There are multiple weapons to unlock, but they require us to grind huge amounts of attempts through the game.
It is implied with the fact you are drastically changing the worlds you’ve beat, by growing flowers and rebirthing life, that there will be a wide variety of enemies later down the road in gameplay than I personally reached. At least, I can’t imagine the developer would add all these beautiful effects, levels and creature designs and then not use them for a good fight?
I really do feel enamored with Star Shaman. I feel selfish about this, but I love the mystery of it – it’s not often I find a truly great game that none of my friends are talking about, and it’s up to me(!) to find the answers to the riddles. I should also mention somewhere here that the soundtrack is very much my jam, and I love it.
Sam played Star Shaman on Viveport Infinity, but it’s also available Steam and Oculus Quest! If you want to talk to Sam about the indie game that’s been on your mind, give him a shout on Twitter!
I’m a big fan of browsing user reviews pretty much anywhere I can find them. I love the idea of finding people with review-brains like mine that just want to critique, ramble, and gossip about every media possible. Steam User Reviews have proven a great source of entertainment for me, bringing me much joy and frustration reading the reviews of both the talented and the first-time writers. But Steam User Reviews work around a lot of algorithms to try and give people the best idea of whether a game is worth buying or not. Or that was the idea anyways. I’ve recently found a great example of how the Steam User Review system is currently broken in the store page for the game Dead Effect 2 VR, and I will explain how I believe Steam can go about solving these issues to make a more efficient store experience.