Launched in 2017, FORM is a narrative puzzle game from Charm Games that’s become something of a hidden gem in the VR gaming space—lesser known, but well liked, with a strong critical reception and positive reviews from players on both Oculus and Steam. Our preview of the studio’s upcoming follow up, Twilight Path, shows that players can expect to see more of what they loved, this time with a new setting and a mystical flair.
After I played through the first two chapters of what was described as an “early alpha demo,” it’s clear that Twilight Path aims for much of the same puzzle-focused gameplay as its predecessor. Though this isn’t a direct sequel and things are going to look and feel different; whereas Form had a sci-fi aesthetic and was set inside the mind of a scientist, Twilight Path brings more ancient and mystical tones, with at least a little bit of Studio Ghibli inspiration.
In Twilight Path I found myself moving along a node-based level structure. While teleportation isn’t always the most immersive of locomotion schemes in VR, in this case it’s used well, as each stop along your path is typically home to a puzzle or narrative sequence which means you are spending time at each point interacting with the level rather than mindlessly moving about from moment to moment.
Though mystical, Twilight Path has a decidedly more Earthly tone to its setting (compared to the abstract geometric sensibilities of Form). This approach means more recognizable environments and objects, which show off the studio’s attention to visual fidelity.
In the game’s opening sequence I found myself in a curio shop with a large wooden crate before me. After removing the boards I was greeted with a latched cabinet which I was able to unlock by twisting two handles and then swinging open the door to reveal a series of drawers. After figuring out how to open the final drawer, I discovered a bracelet which came floating before me, and upon putting my hand inside of it, it shrunk down to stay affixed to my wrist. A gemstone on the bracelet encouraged me to grab it with my other hand, and upon doing so I was able to summon a purple translucent orb.
Looking through the orb allowed me to see secret markings on the cabinet which led me to find a potion which gave me a ‘force grab’-like power that allowed me to interact with distant objects. It became clear to me that between the seeing orb and the force grab I had acquired two powers that would serve as useful tools for my adventure going forward. Over the course of the game I’d expect more to follow.
For now though, I found my way over to a fortune-teller machine in the corner of the shop. I opened a cabinet and found some markings by looking through the seeing orb, which helped me figure out how to activate the machine, at which point I stared into its crystal ball and was teleported to a mystical realm, the Twilight Path, where I’d go on to be introduced to the game’s first characters, and of course solve a few more puzzles before the conclusion of the preview.
My preview lasted about 25 minutes and the interactions throughout were clearly indicated and satisfying to execute. Several moments showed the studio’s FX skill, like when holding the gem from the bracelet and seeing glowing runes floating in the air around it, or when activating the fortune teller machine and seeing a pane of cracked glass appear creating convincing distortions of the image behind it.
These subtle but well executed details feel a little bit magical when you’re right up close to them in VR, and speak to an attention to detail that as present here as it was in Form.
While my preview left me encouraged that Charm Games will have no problem recreating the interactive puzzle-based fun of Form, I’m hoping to see Twilight Path take things to the next level in gameplay and narrative. My time in the game offered some glimpses of characters and lore, but didn’t delve much into a central conflict or what kind of challenges might face the player going forward. Puzzles are fun, but they can become something greater when woven into a story that you care about.
And when it comes to length, this kind of hand-authored game, focused largely on unique interactions and puzzles, can be especially difficult for an indie studio to flesh out into a substantial amount of gameplay. Form, for instance, only lasted about an hour. It seems that Twilight Path is aiming for a broader scope, but the studio hasn’t yet said how much gameplay they’re hoping to achieve.
So far the studio hasn’t confirmed a specific release date for Twilight Path, but previously said it was due out this Summer. After this promising preview, we’ll be looking forward to hearing more from Charm Games about where this mystical journey will take us.