Nearly three and a half years after its launch, indie VR gem Vanishing Realms (2016) has received a major expansion which is now available on Steam with a 20% launch discount. Vanishing Realms: The Sundered Rift, as it’s called, is said to be even larger than the original game, bringing new environments, enemies, and weapons, while concluding the game’s story.

Update (August 23rd, 2019): The Sundered Rift expansion is available now on Steam with a 20% launch discount at $12 (full price $15). The game is made available as DLC, which means it requires the original Vanishing Realms base game ($20).

Original Article (August 22nd, 2019): Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel brought Zelda-esque room-scale RPG action to SteamVR all the way back at the launch of the first PC VR headsets in 2016. The game is one of the top rated titles on SteamVR, but has remained in Early Access more than three years after launch. Updates on development progress have been extremely sparse in the intervening years, leading some of the game’s community to believe the project would never be completed.

But the wait for both the original game’s ‘1.0’ launch and its expansion is finally coming to an end, says Kelly Bailey, the title’s sole developer.

Vanishing Realms: The Sundered Rift, is expected to launch tomorrow (Friday, August 22nd), and the original game—having benefited from some of the tech developed for the expansion—will finally leave early access at the same time.

The Sundered Rift is “even larger than the base game, spanning six distinct environments and featuring ten new monsters and many new weapon types,” Bailey tells Road to VR.

Functionally speaking, The Sundered Rift expansion will be released as DLC, which means it requires the base game as well. A final price hasn’t been set just yet, though a launch sale is planned for release.

Image courtesy Indimo Labs

Bailey touts the following for The Sundered Rift:

  • Six distinct new realms, each beautifully hand-crafted for VR. Watch from a sheltered cove as the the moon rises over the sea, surrounded by birdsong discover deep forest groves by dawn, see clouds in twilight moving over mountains, walk through the bleached bones of a colossus to explore a canyon and a deadly desert beyond, in a gathering storm ascend a vast stairway to the heart of a dying peak, traverse a bottomless crevasse, discover secret caves, waterfalls, ruins, wander a vast mist-enshrouded swamp, loot treacherous dungeons and more.
  • New weapons to master, including an enchanted throwing hammer, deadly throwing axes, war-spears, bashing shields, shields to ward off blade, arrowhead or flame, quick-firing elven bows, hard hitting long-range bows, new two-handed weapons and an epic relic of such power…well…it Shall Not Be Named.
  • 10 new monsters and diabolical automata with unique combat mechanics.
  • Challenge yourself with over 15 new achievements.
  • Experience the thrill of face-to-face melee combat, explore, climb, mine, unravel the clues within poetic riddles, detect and defeat traps, solve puzzles, ride mystic levitating stones, follow spirit animals to healing groves and ancient gateways, all in a regenerating human-scale VR world.

For Bailey, The Sundered Rift expansion, together with the original, concludes his vision of the game.

“I really gave myself time to build the expansion, several years as it turns out, and it grew much larger than my original design! It’s been quite a journey, and I think Vanishing Realms: The Sundered Rift now pretty much includes everything I wanted to say in the story and could think of adding for gameplay!”

Image courtesy Indimo Labs

Building Vanishing Realms has been a “nostalgic experience,” Bailey says; the title is heavily inspired by the games of his youth, like those he wrote on an Apple II computer and Dungeons & Dragons campaigns played with friends.

Back in those days, we read everything by Howard, Tolkien, Pratchett, Anthony, Leiber. We spent rainy Saturdays rolling 20-sided dice and letting our imaginations transport us of out a suburban basement onto epic battlefields, to ancient cities and dark underworlds. […]

When I first encountered VR in 2015, I was captured by the possibility that the adventures we once experienced in shared imagination might actually be realizable in some tangible form. I’m still inspired by that idea today. I hope you will enjoy playing these new chapters of Vanishing Realms as much as I’ve enjoyed building them!

In addition to being the game’s sole developer, he also composed the game’s soundtrack which further draws inspiration from that era.

“For atmosphere and inspiration [while playing D&D], we’d often have the electronic music of pioneers like Synergy, Tangerine Dream, and Vangelis playing in the background. Reminiscent of those times, I’ve written a somewhat ’80s inspired sound track for this expansion.”

Speaking to Road to VR, Bailey briefly addressed the lengthy delay of the expansion compared to his original expectations and announcements to the game’s community.

It’s an unusual situation, but over time the new content for Vanishing Realms actually grew to become larger than the base game. When I look back on my announcements to the community in 2017 and 2018, indicating I’d be keeping the [original game] in Early Access and delivering the new content as DLC, I didn’t really anticipate that the new chapters would take me two years to complete or get quite this large. […]

I have to smile when I see the 2016 Early Access announcement where I anticipate launching the base game out of Early Access within two weeks. It’s been a long journey getting here; I ultimately just kept the base game in Early Access while building the expansion because it turned out to make it much easier to keep all the shared technology in sync. For instance, as I upgraded the monster movement AI to be more agile when moving in a more open terrain world, the [original game] got that benefit right away. Many more cases like that, in fact the entire game engine was upgraded to allow for more open-world design—you’ll see a bit more detail in the outdoor scenes in the base game as a consequence—things like that.

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  • M Rob

    instant purchase

  • R3ST4RT

    I will be purchasing this on day 1! The original vanishing realms was one of my first purchases when I picked up a Vive and I absolutely loved it. I found the combat to be a little slow but overall, the game ticked all the right boxes. Now that I know it was/is a one person dev team, I have nothing but respect for Bailey and what he’s created!

  • Mucker2002

    This the best news, brightened an otherwise shit day. Releases right before long bank holiday weekend too. Well done Indimo, buying as soon as possible, whatever the price.

  • Graham J ⭐️

    Heh, Sundered Rift. ISWYDT

  • Rosko

    I guess i’m in the minority but i didn’t take long to refund the first game. Graphically basic, generic art style, nothing interesting about the repetitive game play with very basic melee, what seemed like a generic story from short time with it. It felt very much like a budget indy title. No idea why it is so highly regarded.

    • Charles

      Because it’s the only game of its type done to the degree it’s done, and it’s well-made. The graphics are simple, but they’re aesthetic – as opposed to the overrated “Budget Cuts” that has simple and bland graphics.

    • John

      Buying and supporting titles like this is so mucn more than AAA graphics, story and effect. Its liking what small teams can do when the stars align for them. The wriritng and poems is great, and I so like the playstyle. I dont really care if its repitive or simple melee mchanics. The amsotphere and storytelling is there. And id love to support more titles like this. Its a glimpse int oone mans dream of a clasic D&D game would be. Love it.

      • ForceKin Gaming

        And Id love to support more titles like this.

        -Puts on salesman hat- You should check out Vengeful Rites, if you haven’t. Full disclosure, I’m the developer lol.

        • John

          Great! Ill buy it for sure.

          • ForceKin Gaming

            Much appreciated! Enjoy! And do let us know if you have any feedback on the forums or in our discord. :)

    • J.C.

      For me, it’s because it was the ONLY game of its kind when VR launched. Everything else was a shooting gallery or physics experiments, and VanR brought a multi-hour adventure.
      Does it do everything perfectly? Nope. Compare ANY of its mechanics or graphics to other games and you’ll come up lacking, but the games people compare it to are usually one-trick-ponies. Blade and Sorcery has great combat but that’s literally all there is to it. Vacation and Job Simulator have WAY better physics interactions, but no adventure.

      Basically, it does enough things *well enough*, with varied landscapes, hidden treasures, and very pleasant mechanics expansion. Zero people praising it think it’s a AAA title. No, it’s the little indie game that showed everyone How It’s Done.

      • Rosko

        I don’t think i would compare it to any of those games or budget cuts previously mentioned above. Personally I was playing Chronos when VR first arrived which was more my thing artistically, i still think the atmosphere of that game is right up there to anything that’s been released since in vr & there have been various other similar or comparable games to Vanishing Realm since like Karnage Chronicles, Mages Tale, Orbus, Vengeful Rites, VR Dungeon Knight, journey of the gods, the morrigan, township & could maybe say Skyrm vr.
        Maybe this is a vive/oculus thing where there just wasn’t the quality vr titles released on steam initially but with the amount of positive reviews (more than all those other games combined bar skyrim) i expected it to be a lot better than it was.

        • J.C.

          Dunno what to tell you. It ticks the right boxes for a lot of people.

    • Jarilo

      It was something great back in 2016 when there wasn’t much for the Vive. People hold it because of that to a higher regard, but yea it’s aged bad. Things like The Morrigan and other titles in it’s genre and art style are out and better now.

  • impurekind

    I’ll def give this a go at some point.

  • Jarilo

    It was something great back in 2016 when there wasn’t much for the Vive. People hold it because of that to a higher regard, but yea it’s kinda aged bad now and the second chapter was arena based and annoying. There are titles in it’s genre and art style that are out and better now but that doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy it anyway.