Joy Way, the indie VR studio that’s juggling the development of three unique VR games, this week announced a demo for OUTLIER, a VR roguelite that’s piqued our interested with creative weaponry clearly designed around VR.
Update (September 24th, 2021): Developer Joy Way has released a demo of Outlier, purportedly offering 1.5 hours of content for players to get a feel for the game’s interesting FPS gameplay. The demo is available now on Steam.
The studio is actively looking for feedback; if you played the demo and want to share your thoughts, check out the feedback form here.
While the demo is said to include three abilities, four weapons, four enemies, a boss, and 13 powerups, there’s no word yet on how the demo compares to the scope of the full game which is due to launch later this year.
The original article, which covers the announcement of Outlier, continues below.
Original Article (July 22nd, 2021): You may be familiar with Joy Way’s other two titles, STRIDE (available in early access) and AGAINST (coming later this year), both of which have their own unique character. Now the studio is, impressively, working on yet a third VR game which looks unique still—OUTLIER.
As the studio explains, after Stride, it built out two prototypes to explore a future project. One of those prototypes lead to the rhythm game Against, and the other, as we’ve now learned, has become Outlier. Joy Way describes the game as a procedurally generated VR FPS roguelite:
You are a captain of one of the last human arks. In search of a new home for humanity, your vessel was sucked into a black hole. From your position beyond space and time, you witness an unknown race devastating what looks like a habitable solar system. The unknown physics of the black hole endow you with mysterious powers and allow you to exist in parallel worlds. Live, die, and repeat in your quest to conquer at least one of these worlds in the name of mankind.
Beyond solid looking visuals, what’s immediately impressive about Outlier is the creative, VR-centric weapons shown off in the announcement trailer above.
First we see a rapid fire pistol which eventually overheats, as seen by a crystal in a small cage in the back of the gun. As it overheats, the rate of fire slows down drastically. To cool the weapon down more quickly, you can pop open the cage and shake the gun to cool the crystal.
Another interesting weapon we see is pistol-like gun that, instead of shooting bullets, shoots pieces of itself. Reloading appears to be done with a ‘pulling’ gesture, which recalls the pieces of the gun from the environment and reattaches them to be fired again.
Beyond handheld weapons, the Outlier trailer also shows some magic-like powers which can be swapped on the fly by plugging modules in the back of your gloves. In the trailer we see both a throwable fireball and a sort of force-push. The studio teases that you can combine such abilities to do even more:
The combination of power-ups and ability modifiers makes for different experiences. Combine your spells together to get new ones: mix a fireball and a telekinetic push to acquire both an explosive fireball and a fire push. Shape your character and armory between the runs to construct diverse builds for any playstyle.
Between the interesting weapons, spells, and solid visuals, there’s a lot to be intrigued by already, though the high-speed stick-based locomotion (with lots of strafing and backpedaling) doesn’t look particularly appealing to me for both comfort or immersion. Granted, Joy Way has shown a great capacity to prototype and find what works, so there’s a chance the game will change a good bit between now and launch, and even further through its early access period, which is expected to launch in late 2021.