An ominous, desolate world awaits, and you, the silent explorer, must traverse the remains of a once great civilization and unlock its secrets to escape the clutches of puzzle-induced insanity. Did you see someone over your shoulder? It couldn’t be. You’re alone, right? If this sounds familiar, then you’re in luck, because there’s something special on the rise for fans of the 1997 PC gaming hit Riven (1997)—it’s a new virtual reality game called Ethereon.
Tony Davidson, one of the developers of the ever-classic Riven, has launched a new Kickstarter campaign to reinvigorate the adventure-puzzle genre with his made-for-VR experience. Davidson’s team at Intervision Games are initially making Ethereon compatible with the Oculus Rift DK2, but providing they reach their stretch goal of $199,000, will also release the game for Sony’s Morpheus PS4 VR headset. Other stretch goals past their main goal of $35,800 will allow the team to add support for Nimble Sense, the 3D hand tracking sensor, and if all that isn’t ambitious enough, will also bring the game to Android-based mobile VR.
Potential naysayers can refer to Davidson’s impressive résumé, which includes experience at Dreamworks; specifically on the animated films Bee Movie (2007), Madagascar 2 (2008), and How to Train Your Dragon (2010). In fact, the whole team is composed of game and movie industry insiders—a hopeful sign to say the least, and probably the reason Ethereon stands out with unique art direction amidst a sea of games with gritty worlds and blinding lens flares.
Davidson isn’t alone in his desire to bring the adventure-puzzle game back to the forefront with virtual reality. Cyan, the studio behind Myst (1993) and Riven (1997), ran a successful Kickstarter last year for Obduction, which passed it’s $1.3 million stretch goal for Oculus Rift support. Obduction is still in development.
Have Demo, Will Travel
There are two different demos available currently: one exclusively for the Oculus Rift DK2 which Intervision call a “teaser,” which takes you through a fairly short series of underwater passages, and a longer puzzle made for non-Rifters—both offering an encouraging sign of gameplay yet to come, and both can be downloaded from the game’s Kickstarter page.
As it is, the two demos play fairly well on a mid-range gaming rig, with the final release purported to maintain the same “highly-optimized experience that is guaranteed to run smoothly on even moderate systems.”
The final game, which will be available on Steam and for DRM-free download, is targeted to run a total of 8 hours, but considering the difficulty of the puzzles (and time to stare at glowing jellyfish) this may actually translate to several days of gameplay.