Eden River, a virtual reality relaxation experience, is now available on both Steam and Google Cardboard. The game, which essentially replicates the experience of floating down a lazy river, was produced by indie game studio Unello Design as an effort to elevate the artistic side of gameplay while creating a space for quiet reflection.
Aaron Lemke, developer and founder of the Austin based game studio, Unello Design, conceived the idea of Eden River back in the Rift DK1 days of 2013 as an answer to the steadily growing trend of horror and action themed games popular with VR headset owners. Lemke’s aim was to introduce a new style of game that substitutes the usual frenetic pace of explosions and jump scares with serene landscapes and a host of chirping bird buddies that join you on your float down the waterways of paradise.
Although not a traditional game per say, due to the general lack of concrete objectives, what Eden River excels at is offering a beautifully detailed place to recharge and refresh—making it a new breed of anti-game that VR is so adept at conveying. In fact, the original game has found its way into some rather unconventional environments already, such as The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw where it has been used in research to see what influences mood and emotion. The kid-friendly title also landed into the classroom of Mathieu Marunczyn, a primary school teacher in Australia who uses the Oculus Rift in conjunction with games like Eden River to help calm down children with moderate to severe autism.
Now available for download on Steam for $8.99 as part of a 10% launch sale, the updated experience (now Eden River HD) incorporates DK2 support in addition to legacy DK1 support. The new version also offers some more options including ‘Adventure Mode,’ which follows a linear path, and ‘Endless Mode,’ an option that randomly generates the winding river for anyone in serious need of a longer chillout session—a great way to unload the stresses of the day to the carefree vibrations of the experience’s steel guitar soundtrack, written and performed by Lemke himself.
Unello Design has also made the experience available on Android (for Google Cardboard and other VR smartphone adapters) for $1.99, which affords the easily frazzled among us the opportunity to benefit from the quiet spaces of Eden River while on the go. Cutting the cords does limit the game somewhat in the graphics department, which drops some of the more graphically intensive animations from the ‘HD’ version to make the experience playable on the humble smartphone GPU, but the rest of the game is thankfully left intact—including ‘Endless Mode.’
Word has it that Eden River might also being making an appearance on Samsung Gear VR, but with so many titles still waiting in the wings for acceptance, it may be a while until Oculus releases any official word on exactly what’s coming and when.
So until then, we’ll be popping an inaugural Shiner Bock as we float down, out and away from all our worldly concerns with a couple of our favorite bird buddies to lead the way.