Innervision, the developer of the upcoming Thunderbird virtual reality game, sent me a build of their GDC demo without much context or even setup. I didn't know what kind of game it was. I didn't know where I was going. I just downloaded the experience, put on my Vive Pre headset and ...
Found myself on the side of a mountain, not knowing where to go and what to do. The mystery of the situation was instantly pleasurable, as was the detail poured into the design of the eagle's head and the rock face. I could walk around to explore the environment, and as you can see from the video there is a teleport mechanic for people with smaller spaces.
It felt real. I finally figured out how to grab the disc and reflect the light, and the rest of the brief demo also dealt with light-based puzzles. But being inside the environment made the adventure game tropes feel fresh. We edited out a few minutes here and there, mostly because I struggled with an easy aspect of the puzzle for a bit, but this is the entirety of the build the developer was showing off. I played through it a few times to capture this footage, and I'm hooked. I want more.
"Created by one of the developers behind 1997’s best-selling game, Riven: The Sequel to Myst, Thunderbird fuses key elements from classic adventure games with next-gen tech to provide an unsurpassed level of immersion with stunning visual depth, life-like interactions, and a sense of realism never before possible," the official site states. It sounds like marketing copy, but the sense of reality from adventure games on the Vive is impressive. Using your own virtual hands to solve these puzzles and move the objects in the game makes all the difference.
Thunderbird will be released this summer, and is ultimately coming to the Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, and HTC Vive.