Virtual Reality is still so fresh, young and new that it’s likely those VR Enthusiasts around since the inception of the Oculus Rift still have only a handful of moments that they can point to that convinced them virtual reality is something worth shouting about. The new demo from Sightline developer Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík, is one of those moments.
Sightline: VR’s Greatest Hits
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big Sightline fan. Runner up in last year’s VR Jam festival, it was a demo that represented (to me at least) a truly unique aspect of virtual reality, the naturalistic ability to look at things. As looking is second nature in VR, anything that happens as a result of merely say, turning your head is immediately arresting. This means, you can have a lot of fun designing a game that bends the rules of causality and strives to pull the rug from under your virtual feet at every opportunity. This, is Sightline: The Chair.
The Chair distills Sightline’s ‘gaze-detection’ mechanic and presents a series of experiences which inspires shock, wonder, fear, terror and joy – all within a 5 minute time frame. The Chair has no traditional interactive mechanisms, that is you don’t need a gamepad to play this game. It’s also clever, subtle and intuitive enough not to have to resort to tutorials and telegraphing in order for the player to work their way through the experience.
And what an experience. I’m not going to describe in detail what happens in The Chair, partly because spoiling your first time with this demo would be a heinous act on my part but mostly because it would be worthless. Although your path through the series of set pieces is essentially linear, it’s perfectly possible for everyone to take something completely different from each run through. What I will say is that the creativity and ingenuity on display here is truly impressive. The Chair whisks you from tranquil scenes to jaw dropping vistas to claustrophobic nightmares to playful wonderment with such a deft touch you’ll want to hit replay almost as soon as you’ve finished.
The Chair is a technical triumph too, rendering believable imagery at a silky smooth pace allowing the DK2’s low persistence of vision to work it’s magic. The demo really acts as a showcase for Oculus’ new DK2 as well – with great opportunity to get to grips with positional tracking and admire the aforementioned low persistence display. The OLED panel too shines, literally – providing vivid depiction galore – neons against black, verdant hues look lush and the whole thing looks just about as good you could hope. Small caveats, the dreaded judder did rear it’s head for me as did true black smear – both known issues with the current 0.4.0 SDK against which this is built.
And I really can’t finish the review without mentioning the audio. Sparingly haunting one minute whilst playful the next, the sound mix is a fittingly brilliant accompaniment to the experience. More than that, it’s completely integral to some scenes and sets the one throughout. Louis Arrigoni, Sightline’s Producer and Audio guru has to be congratulated here, the audio is a superb asset to Sightline: The Chair.
So where now for Sightline? Tomas has some big plans in the pipeline that are not quite ready to share. His primary focus right now is building Sightline’s community and social network. Sightline’s Facebook page is here and you can help the title get Greenlit on Steam here. As a writer I’m supposed to stay impartial on these matters, but if you love this demo give Tomas some votes and a like, it all helps towards making Sightline a reality in the future.
You can download Sightline: The Chair over at the game’s homepage right here. We wish Tomas and Louis the best of luck and very much look forwards to seeing what he comes up with next.