Solve the Case in ‘Madrid Noir VR’

Madrid Noir is an interactive VR experience telling the story of a young girl named Lola as she pretends be a detective around the city of Madrid, during the summer she lives with her weird uncle. As the story unfolds and clues reveal themselves, the stakes are raised dramatically and there is a great on-foot chase sequence. The story is super cute, with a lot of very nice animation to match the excellent voice acting.

 For those that haven’t engaged in a VR experience film before, they’re pretty straightforward. They will almost always be less than an hour’s worth of narrative content where players engaging in the story through minor interactions. These often are things like pushing buttons or pointing items at the action. Sometimes these are optional, but I find they help add to the sense of presence of the films. Madrid Noir, for example, had a scene where we had to aim a flashlight in the dark to help Lola find her way before it would proceed to the next scene.

It’s worth noting that this particular experience did require players to stand so that players could turn in the directions the experience wanted us to be in, to see the characters. I find this kind of setup to be demanding and rude towards its audience- Snap rotation is a standard across almost all of the VR industry, so I don’t know why a developer would choose to exclude the feature when it means the difference between a seated or standing game. Accessibility matters, even in VR, people!

I really did adore the experience, however. Lola and her uncle were great, and I love the animation style so very much. This wasn’t the studio’s first VR experience, as they have previously produced Battlescar and Gloomy Eyes. I can tell Madrid Noir was made by a team of professionals, and I am hoping for more along these lines of quality. Recommended.

I’m IndieSam and you can follow me on my Steam Curator page for more VR indie games, experiences and more.

Break everything! ‘Smashing Time’ Review

Playing through Smashing Time’s half dozen levels was a great time as I got to experiment with lots of the tools and weapons that we’ve been provided. My favorite moment was drawing swearwords with chalk on blackboards in the classroom before smashing all the things. This was in the new School Update which apparently released two whole months after launch.

As for the comfort settings of the game, it was actually fairly easy for me – player locomotion worked mostly pretty well, though there is a need for a clearly reachable comfort settings menu. I did have a small issue with being disoriented when I first loaded into the game, mostly because the load screen looked so bizarre to me.

Smashing Time plays great, even on my 1060 graphics card. Flipping tables, smashing glass bottles, shooting wall art, spray-painting all over the place, it felt really fun. This game is truly unique, as a product only the magic of VR and indie VR developers could bring us. I’m hoping to see more from this developer, whether its continued optimization and new levels of Smashing Time, or their next project – I’m sure it’ll be great!

Played using a copy of the game sent by the developer through the Curator Connect platform. Follow me on Steam Curator for more under-appreciated indie game gems!

Relax, Examine, Reflect: Chill, Immersive Fieldtrips in ‘VR Walking Simulator’ (Review)

VR Walking Simulator is something simple: Players will take a nice and quiet walk through the woods in virtual reality with an ingame polaroid camera to capture photos of a variety of levels.

The idea of games with no objectives or enemies is interesting, but it means there’s not much to keep most players engaged after they’ve explored each map. I’m aware some people like to relax in VR headsets and meditate, and I wonder if VR Walking Simulator would work for that. The music and background noises are perfect as they are relaxing and mostly quiet.

I should probably add that the VR version of the game worked perfectly for me, but when I tried changing the settings the game went a little crazy, and because of the camera interface, I ended up with a LOT of Steam screenshots of myself stuck under the floor. Once my pure panic stopped, I was able to figure out how to adjust the settings to work for me, however. There is also a non-VR version that runs very smoothly, complete with the camera for screenshots.

The developer of VR Walking Simulator has made something special here – I feel like I would love to see more of this sort of thing in the future, though maybe with a little bit of busywork? I’d love to spend more time exploring these lovingly crafted levels, especially if there was a little more to do in them.

I recommend VR Walking Simulator but buyers need to be aware there are only so many maps, with not much to do, other than explore some eye-pleasing open spaces while maybe taking some pictures.

Played using a copy sent by the developer through Steam’s Curator Connect platform – Follow me on Steam at  IndieSamAdonisReviews for under-appreciated indie games, neat VR experiences, and all sorts of other funstuffs! I’m also on Twitter!

‘Time Hacker’ VR Game Review

Time Hacker by Joy Way is an enjoyable VR puzzle game that seems designed for those of us with short attention spans. Time Hacker is about a secret agent who can freeze time, and hijack the minds of his enemies – so he can force them to kill their co-conspirators. It’s a silly concept, but it works really well, especially in VR.

Swinging my arms wide to freeze time, then waving a hand to hack a badguy and aim his arm to shoot his buddy; this was all done in one smooth motion, and felt entirely badass. Of course, as the game progresses more quirks are thrown onto enemies and players are given additional options for takedowns.

The game’s developer, Joy Way, has created this quickly paced game with puzzles that can be finished in seconds. That is, assuming the player is familiar with the level, its enemies, and its hidden traps. With the benefit of time hacking (And the game’s excellently optimized performance) we can quickly reload and retry levels, or even edit them with the game’s Sandbox mode.

 I did find that many of the game’s puzzles could be easily solved with little effort – though there were a few exciting exceptions. I’m still stuck thinking back to this one level I didn’t solve that involved a crashing jet, a pile of explosive barrels, and several distressed civilians.

One thing Time Hacker does right, is its presentation. While yes, the game looks lower budget in its interface and cartoony style, I think that was an excellent decision. It gives the game an overall B-movie feel, which I think is perfect – we need more B movie games in VR, especially puzzle games. So, thank you for that Joy Way!

I do recommend Time Hacker, especially to lighter puzzle game fans. If you’re looking for something super hard and complicated to solve, this probably won’t do it for ya. Interested readers can download Time Hacker from Viveport Infinity or through Steam.

Note: Time Hacker is still in Early Access, and this review could change down the line. If my opinion on the game changes massively I’ll be sure to update this post.

Follow the IndieSamAdonis Reviews Steam Curator page for all sorts of interesting VR experiences and adventures.

Steam NextFest June 2021’s Best VR Demos: ‘Sentenced VR’, ‘AGAINST’, ‘Retropolis’

For the past year or so, Steam has been running these huge demo festivals where they’ll get an awe inspiring number of indie game developers to release short playable samples of their works in progress. I wrote here about how impressed I was with some of the VR games in the demo festival this past February. Another demo festival is here, and I’d like to point out some of the cooler VR games again.

Sentenced VR Steam Store

Sentenced is maybe one of my favorite games to tell people about to pitch the idea of VR as a whole –  Play as a medieval executioner, look your convicts in the eye, and maybe feel guilty when carry out their sentence. The players control an Executioner in 15th century Europe, probably wearing a big black hood and ready to chop things into the basket. But the game is more complicated than that – Our job is to follow orders from the town sheriff and listen to the cues of the prisoner for when to complete the execution.

There are a few things players can choose to do to change things up in the demo to change the ending. I won’t spoil them, but the demo’s ending statistic screen does reveal more when you finish the game. Sentenced VR’s developer, Samuel Gordon, has said there will be a good number of different scenes in the full game when it releases on June 25. I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing more people pick this one up.

Secret of RetropolisSteam Store

Secret of Retropolis is a cute point and click adventure game from a VR point of view. It has a great parodied film noir presentation, with really cartoony art that is recognizable right away. The demo was almost insultingly short, but hey, all the best adventure games insult their players a little bit, so I don’t mind wishlisting this one.

AGAINST Steam Store

AGAINST is a fairly typical VR rhythm game in the style of Beat Saber – which isn’t an insult, I can’t even imagine making a rhythm game outside the stereotypical style in VR for the next few years. What separates this one is that it has a really cool comic booky art style, and honestly the single level I’ve played was much better than anything I’ve done in Beat Saber. It feels more involved as the camera twists and your drumsticks (swords and guns and brass knuckles in this case) change themselves up every little bit. This diversity of movement added to the rapidly increasing tempo of the excellent soundtrack…AGAINST just felt good to play.

 I’d love to hear what anyone else has been playing on VR, or specifically in the latest Steam demo festival, VR or not. Reach me on Twitter!

‘Trover Saves the Universe’ Review – A Specific Sense of Humor

Trover Saves the Universe is fine. Mechanically it’s inoffensive and nice enough to play, narratively It’s basic as heck, and comedically it offends a lot of people in the ways we expect from something advertising itself as “by the creator of Rick & Morty”. What I’m trying to say, is the game is fine. No real problems here – if you enjoy the humor, you’ll have a good time.

The game is acceptably good, depending on the audience. But holy heck, it goes on forever. And the characters never stop talking.  Oh, and there are collectibles hidden on each level to keep the characters talking on and on even further. Fortunately the combat is engaging and fun, with a decent variety of enemies to fight.

I won’t go into the humor or the specific jokes of the game – I think there are more qualified people than me to say why things are/aren’t funny. Instead I’ll just say there was enough entertainment value that I was both enjoying myself and fairly uncomfortable through my six hours of playtime.

Do I recommend Trover Saves the Universe? Yes, but it’s a thin line. I don’t recommend it to a lot of people I know. But here are the facts – Trover Saves the Universe has…

  • Solid combat mechanics.
  • Good exploration with plenty of collectibles for players to find.
  • A well-defined sense of humor in its presentation.

I played Trover Saves the Universe in VR on an Oculus Quest 2 on SteamVR, as purchased by myself.

This review was posted to my Steam Curator page! It’d mean a huge amount to me if you followed it!

‘The Line’ VR Review – The Puppets of São Paulo Help Us Fall in Love (with VR)

The Line is a short VR app that received a lot of acclaim in 2019 for being a well put-together experience for newcomers to virtual reality. It really isn’t surprising that so many people were in awe of The Line, as it has this certain magical quality to its narration and presentation.

Continue reading

‘The Haunted Graveyard’ (VR) Review

The Haunted Graveyard is a short walking-only VR experience that will leave players feeling creeped out or mesmerized by its delightfully kooky characters and Disneyworld’ish dark-ride style presentation.

Continue reading

The VR demos of Steam’s ‘Play What’s Next’ Festival 2021

I’ve been loving the Steam Demo festival, Play What’s Next! So far I have mostly checked out the upcoming VR games – here are my thoughts on some of them.

TossVR – we play as an acrobatic ape climbing through jungle gym playgrounds of increasing difficulties. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the exact movements and speed and everything required to get through! Very satisfying when you get to punch the “I finished the level” button! It’s also super colorful and happy to look at, so the game really improved my spirits! Steam link

BoomBox – this is a rhythm game in the style of something like Beat Saber, but wow it’s so much nicer to look at! There were only two songs available in the demo, but the dev promises to have a LOT more with a bunch of environments to go through. In the level that was available, it’s like you’re jogging down a trail and the whole experience is just so dang smooth and chill. This might sound stubborn, but if the devs price this under Beat Saber’s $30, I’ll definitely be buying it for its full release this month! Hope others will too, because a lot of work clearly went into making this game so seamless and relaxing. Steam link.

Sword Reverie – A JRPG with anime style visuals and HUGE SWORDS? It was fun! I only did part of the demo, but it was mostly just following a path and talking to characters, then combat, and you rinse/repeat. I think the devs have bigger plans than this though, based on the magic resource management system that’s in the game? Basically you have spells you can cast depending on how you wave your HUGE SWORDS and which element they have equipped. It felt so dang good Fus-Roh-Dah’ing badguys across whole dang battlefields with an arm swing, since all the enemies have ragdoll physics. Steam link.

I’ll be playing more demos on Steam, until the Play What’s Next festival ends on February 9th. Be sure to follow along on this blog, Instagram, and Twitter for all the cool stuffs.

‘Ragnarock VR’ Review – Beat Saber’s got Nothing on Fantasy Prog Metal

Ragnarock is a VR exclusive rhythm game made in the style of the massively popular Beat Saber. It feels like Beat Saber has created this whole new genre of rhythm games in the VR marketplace, where players dance and wave their controllers to the music to hit notes. The thing is about this growing little sub-genre though, is that so much of the featured music revolves around some form of electronica, I think is the term. When Ragnarock popped onto the scene airdrumming to its fantasy prog rock/metal soundtrack, I was sold on the game very quickly.

Ragnarock has a lot of neat visual mechanics that affect the gameplay in ways we hadn’t seen in other dance VR games. The absolute coolest of which, is that you play your songs aboard a Viking longboat as a drummer. The better you perform, the faster your Viking rowers make speed down this beautiful icy river. This is a real dang cool way of showing players basic score with no numbers, just a scenic journey.

The drumming can get a little difficult due to issues with height adjustment. I had trouble figuring out exactly what my drumsticks should look like before starting, so ended up having to start a session, end it, start a session, and end it, all so I could mess with the settings in trial and error. Still, the drumming felt good with haptic and visual feedback, especially once I had found a decent setup. Maybe developers can add some in-game advice about calibration? This should be about how to align your drums properly, how to stand, etc, for the best play session.

I openly admit I am very terrible at Ragnarock, and heck, I’m bad at most rhythm games. Despite this, I had an excellent time just listening to the songs and trying to make it further down the river with my Vikingfriends. Hopefully WanadevStudio can continue working on adding new songs and rivers and boats to the game, and by the time I come back to play next we’ll really Rock.

Interested readers can buy Ragnarock on SteamVR.