‘COMPOUND’ Demo Hits SteamVR, Puts You in a VR World of Lovingly Detailed Retro Graphics

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COMPOUND is a VR hobby project from developer ‘NotDead’ which aims to immerse you in a world of lovingly crafted pixel art, retro-styled first person shooter.

Update (4/6/17, 11:48PM PT): Compound has received a major update with v0.03b and has launched on SteamVR as a demo. Developer NotDead has released a new video showing the many improvements in action (see video heading this article).

compound-4A laundry list of tweaks has brought significant improvements to the game, including weapon tweaks, more varied and interactive environments, and improved audio. Here are the highlights (see Compound’s official page for full release notes):

  • Pistol rebalance
  • Total sewer overhaul
  • Total audio overhaul
  • Difficulty options
  • Most objects including dead bodies can be picked up and thrown around
  • Made critical hits clear to the player
  • Items despawn, blink before disappearing
  • Better splash screen
  • Lots more I’ve probably forgotten!

In the next “mini update” promises customizable controls (including a left-handed mode), additional locomotion options (including an enhanced comfort mode). Following that, priorities will be on new weapons, enemies, and levels.

Original Article (2/12/17): Ironically, there is a risk that the over abundance of so-called ‘pixel art’ video games in circulation these days of the nostalgia-fuelled art style is in danger of beginning to look tired and dated. There’s also an erroneous belief by some that creating effective pixel art titles is somehow an easy way out for an indie developer. However, creating really effective pixel art is hard, and it’s even harder when you’re mapping that art onto a realtime 3D world designed to be experienced in VR.

Enter Compound, a “VR hobby project” by developer ‘NotDead’, a virtual reality shooter which lovingly embraces it’s jumbo pixels textures and fuses the look with appropriately simplistic yet elegant gameplay.

Compound throws you into an underground world, filled with futuristic-looking bad guys sporting woefully ineffective armour and marksmanship skills which would embarrass the average Stormtrooper. You have two weapons at your disposal, a laser pistol with infinite ‘ammo’ and an SMG style energy weapon. You wander the titular underground compound, shooting bad guys (I didn’t ask to stop why they were bad it must be said) and security robots, grabbing ammo and burgers (for health) as you go. Shoot everyone and get to the end of the level. That’s pretty much it in terms of objectives.

But the beauty of Compound is in its execution. The SMG for example requires to be physically reloaded with ammo you’ve collected in your inventory – a nicely satisfying mechanic. You can drift around the levels using ‘artificial’ locomotion (aka full locomotion) or teleportation – and it’ll doubtless make purists happy that you can switch between either method on the fly. Strafing and physically dodging projectiles is great fun and as you dart around the world, one heavily inspired by id’s genre-defining Wolfenstein (1992) in terms of colour palette, you quickly warm to your blocky alternate reality surroundings.

As stated, Compound is a one-man hobby project right now and can the latest version of the demo can be downloaded for free from the developer’s home page here and works on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The developer also states they have high hopes of the project growing beyond its homebrew roots stating “I hope this project eventually evolves into a very fleshed out VR roguelite with a large number of items, weapons, enemies and characters. A non-VR version is also in the works.”

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