The bar has been raised. I just stepped out of the newly released beta for Crashland, an Oculus Rift demo that we heard about last month — and my heart is racing. Probably because my mind was just tricked into thinking that I was trapped on a desolate planet with giant arachnid aliens clambering for my flesh.
Crashland is an Oculus Rift FPS that requires the Razer Hydra to play. The demo puts you in the shoes of a cape-clad spacefarer who has unfortunately crash landed on a hostile planet.
You can (and should) download the Crashland demo here. Update: the download went down because of exceeded bandwidth, I’ve mirrored the download here.
The developer working on Crashland has a donation button on his site (you can find it at the bottom of his Crashland page) for anyone that would like to support his development:
I work on these projects for free in my spare time, but if you like the experiences I’m making and would like to prod me in the right direction here’s the button… (I’ll need a Unity Pro licence soon). Thank you!
For those without a Rift, you can catch a glimpse of the gameplay in this video:
Llyr, from Bangor, Wales, UK, who is developing the demo, notes that he is aiming for full body awareness and dynamic animation, and I must say, he’s succeeded.
After calibrating the Hydra, you find yourself wielding a pistol and an explosive spear gun (which also functions as a vital enemy scanner). Look down and you can see your body convincingly right where it should be. The cape on your back flows in the wind, the shadow really feels like it’s yours.
But don’t gander for too long; the planet is teeming with life, just not the friendly kind. Giant spiders want your flesh, and they won’t stop until they get it.
The alien beasts approach you from all around. When the first few come you won’t have much trouble. Shortly thereafter, you’ll be wishing you had a much bigger clip.
Crashland has me convinced that a deep rooted fear of spiders might be an evolutionary trait. The first few that snuck up from behind had me jumping in real life.
I’ll admit, I’ve got a slight case of arachnophobia. But holy hell… give Crashland a shot and tell me that turning around at the last minute to see one of the big ones right in your face is not terrifying.
Llyr plays with this fear by combining the scanner functionality with the spear gun — but you can only use one at a time. Whenever the scanner is not on, you feel incredibly vulnerable. Who would have thought that giant space spiders could be so quiet?
The thing that amazes me is that this isn’t even a horror game.
The dynamic animation that Llyr mentions is what powers the alien spider death animations. The system does a great job: enemies squirm convincingly as you blast them apart. It’s never perfectly clear if you’ve done enough damage to actually kill them (like real spiders), and you’ll likely end up unloading a clip into one as fast as you can screaming “just die, just die!”
Llyr has something special here. I can’t wait to see more. Multiplayer support might give us a fighting chance against these horrifying foes.