So here is the conversation I’ve been having with myself when it comes to The Unspoken, a game for the Oculus Touch that you either received free for pre-ordering the controllers or paid $29.99 for on the store, and I’m going to try to explain both side of my reactions to this game.
On the one hand, I think Cthulhu’s Tentacles as a spell may be a bit over-powered, and you basically always have to have at least one Dispelling Censer charm in your character’s loadout to counter it.
On the other hand, you are throwing frickin’ fireballs and shooting daggers with your hands, inside of virtual reality. Holy shit.
You see the issue
So I’m not sure how to approach the game as a critic. Both feelings are pretty strong. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the game evolve as more players join the fray, but the concept and execution are already so enjoyable that it’s going to be easy to forgive a few balance issues if they rear their heads.
There are three classes, and you can see them and a variety of the game’s spells in the video above. There aren’t many players with Oculus Touch hardware yet, so we’re not seeing a very rapid evolution of the meta-game, but there are enough interactions, counters and strategies built into the game that I feel like I’m still being surprised by things I’m seeing from human players.
There are some spells that even have a high value simply as distractions; it’s very easy to throw a bunch of very flashy things at your opponent in order to overwhelm them long enough to land a series of powerful attacks. Keeping your wits about you when you feel like you’re actually inside the game, being attacked by a giant spirit-snake, is a much larger challenge than staying calm when looking at a standard screen.
And the ability to teleport from pedestal to pedestal not only makes sense in-universe — these are urban wizards trying to destroy each other, after all — but it adds another layer of strategy to try to master. There’s a lot you can do by attacking the gems that give each side their more powerful spells; you’re not just removing an attack from their arsenal, you’re also destroying one of their perches and diminishing their movement options.
You can watch the video below to check out some of the spells available to the game’s Anarchist class:
Keeping the higher ground, knowing when to use your most powerful spells, practicing how to aim each spell and how to move out of the way of attacks or block them as quickly as possible are all important. And that’s before you begin to look at how to best use each charm or to counter those charms from the other player.
It’s not hard to learn how to physically cast or aim each spell — and the basic movements are the same for every class — but it’s very tricky to learn the best way to overwhelm and destroy the defenses of your opponent.
This is one of my favorite Oculus Touch games so far, and it’s a great commercial for the hardware. You have to move precisely to aim or block attacks, and the more powerful spells can require an even trickier series of physical movements, but the tracking has never tripped me up. It’s always my fault when something goes wrong and rarely, if ever, is the hardware to blame for losing my matches. Even if sometimes I like to pretend otherwise.
The Unspoken is available now and is an Oculus Touch exclusive. There’s a spell where you levitate police cars and then drop them on your opponent’s head. I just wanted to throw that out there. Figuratively. And I guess also literally.