For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
It’s really great when developers try to bring a new idea and concept to VR. The team at Dream Reality Interactive have certainly brought them with their title Arca’s Path VR. The question is… with what they have done with their game, does it work in VR?
Arca’s Path tells the story of humanity being pushed to the sidelines, and technology taking over the now dystopian world. But, while scavenging through some ruins, a little girl find a mask with the power to take her to the simulated world of Arca. The girl wants to stay in the world, however as she spends more time in and exploring Arca, the more fractured it becomes. One thing I really like is the story is told in panels sort of like a comic book, and they have not used any written or spoken words, the art style does enough to tell the story.
The idea behind the gameplay is that you are moving a ball around the beautiful labyrinthine worlds within Arca’s Path. Where this might sound quite simple, as mentioned above these worlds start to become a lot more fractured as you progress, this means more and more obstacles and challenges start to appear in the levels. This brings in elements like moving platforms, long ramps, missing sides and crumbling paths just for some examples, and then they add to this some puzzle elements like moving blocks to complete paths.
This means you will need to be a lot more careful the further you get into the game. The best way I can really explain the gameplay is like the old classic Marble Madness – which to me isn’t a bad thing, as it was well received by many. This means the frustration of trial and error you got in Marble Madness is also present in Arca’s Path VR, but it is not a bad frustration more of a challenging one.
Outside of navigating through the levels, the game also brings some little extras. This comes in the form of collectable crystals around the world, and also the game unlocking time trial for each level in the game. With a lot of challenge coming in trying to set new best times, especially on the levels that require a lot of care.
While playing the game the levels and puzzles build ahead of you and this really is something to take in while in the headset. The visuals style is vector-esc and for the world design and what the game is doing, it really suits the style they have gone for. One thing that gets me about the levels building is the way the foliage grows and builds in the level – giving a sort of paper unfolding feeling. As well as the art style suiting the worlds in Arca, they have got the style in the aforementioned comic book story telling correct, with a water-colour style.
The audio is being provided by British composer Raffertie, and where it is relaxing, this helps with the frustration. However, they then increase the pacing of the music and this sets the tone for the more challenging and faster parts of the game. Although you are only controlling a ball around Arca, this use of audio really drags you into the levels and world.
One nice little touch I liked, is that the game allows to also look around the world is the holding the touch pad to enable look mode. This will pause the ball and allow you look around at the part of the level you are in, and really take in the visuals and art style.
You may be thinking… why pause the ball for look mode? This is because of the game’s control system. You will not be using the DualShock at all in the game, the ball is controlled using innovative gazed-based controls. This means where ever you are looking the ball will move to, this is shown by a marker. The closer the marker is to the ball the slower it will move, moving it over the ball with stop it. However, if you have just been moving really fast it wont stop in an instant, meaning you really have to be careful. With this control system in mind, I would say the game is best played seated.
Depending on your skills with this control system, depends on how long the core game will last. The game comes with 25 levels in total, and these took around two and half to three hours for me to get through. You need to compete the levels in the story mode in order to unlock the time trial versions of them. These can then add a lot more longevity to the game, if you feel inclined to go back and try set new times.
- Unique control system
- Beautiful level and sound design
- Provides Time Trial mode, giving you reason to return to the game
- Brings back memories of Marble Madness
- Quick increase in difficulty
- Trail and error could be off-putting to some
Arca’s Path VR brings a unique control system and idea to the virtual reality platform, and every about it works well in the medium. The art style in both the story sections and in the worlds are beautiful, and the level and sound design bring it all together. The quick rise in the challenges within the levels and the sometime unforgiving trial and error element, might mean the game is not suited for everyone. If you were a fan of Marble Madness you have to play this game, it will certainly being back fond memories, but, even if you weren’t the game is still worth giving a go.
Also available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Go, Gear VR and Vive Focus
Developer: Dream Reality Interactive
Buy Arca’s Path VR on PlayStation VR