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CONVRGENCE is the new game from the solo-developer who was working on Paradox of Hope before he was forced to take it down from Steam, which had led to the creation of this game. If you played Paradox of Hope and liked the game you will find the same reasons to like CONVRGENCE.

Release Date: April 22nd 2024
Developer: Monkey-With-a-Bomb
Publisher: Monkey-With-a-Bomb
Price: US $19.99 / CA $25.99 / €19,50 / £16.75
Previewed On: DPVR E4 Black
* Access Provided For Preview *

At it’s heart CONVRGENCE is a survival game, with elements of horror from some of the settings and things you will encounter as you play the game. The gameplay loop consists of completing raids, which will see you go into set areas to loot items to either replenish your own stock or sell to the merchant back at the base, so you can purchase items you might need to help your next run. As well as looting in the raids you will also have a current task on the board in the base, which will see you doing things like returning with a highly desired item or finding a point of interest. Doing these will increase your reputation back at the base. This is an important element of the game, as increasing your reputation gives you access to more advanced weaponry, storage solution in the base and your backpack and other items – which will help you a lot while completing more raids. When entering your current chosen raid location (currently two locations with day and night variants) it will provide you with a procedurally generated layout, different loot drops and a variation in amount of enemies – meaning each run will feel a little different. One thing you need to go in expecting is to play the first raid for the first few hours or so, this is so you can increase your stock, available money and reputation – making you more prepared to survive the other location and night time runs.

One thing I have taken from playing CONVRGENCE in this early access stage is it has a very high potential, as even in its current stage of development it shows quality and attention to detail you would want in a survival game in both gameplay elements and the world building. There is some elements that need a little work like the human enemy AI, these will just charge at you via a set straight path if they are altered to your presence. The same goes for the creatures you will come across underground but, this works for them as they would instantly think attack – where with the humans following the same characteristics can take a little away from the immersions the game builds well in most places.

For example the immersion in the game is next level with it using very little menus and everything being done with physical interactions and items. Like in the shop grabbing items from the shelves to buy them or, when selling items to the merchant just dropping them on the counter at his shop window. With the inventory system when going into the raid for taking in items or looting them being handled by the belt and backpack system, which is the common approach in virtual reality due to the immersion it offers by removing the bag from your back and looking for your item. With all of this coming together, the next important choice was having no in-game HUD’s floating about, with you taking out a PDA to monitor important things like your vitals and information on items.

The finally element I have not seen done so well in a game is your dog companion. Although there are many games that use pets, issuing it commands in CONVRGENCE is the most immersive way I have experienced in VR. All commands are given via whistles, which are done by holding your hand up to your mouth and pressing the trigger. This allows you to give three commands to your canine companion – a long whistle will command him to stay, two quick whistles will get him to follow and one short whistle will issue the attack command.

All of this immersion building through the gameplay could all be lost without the visuals and audio work to go with them. I am happy to say both the current settings on day and night look great and match the nuclear exclusion zone the destination is based around – this also goes for the pre-raid bunker all other actions are completed in. The lighting in the game is on-point for each location and especially when adding the flash-light to your weapon or throwing a glow-stick in the night or dark corridors you are having to explore. Add to these important requirements for building immersion, extra little touches like smoke and distortion from the heat at the end of your gun when firing it, and it all adds up to keep you in the settings and world of CONVRGENCE.

The visuals really set a great start for the games atmosphere but, the sound really excels as one of the games standout elements. It really is fantastic, which builds a perfect atmosphere with a quality soundscape to match with the locations and visuals you are currently experiencing. On top of the realistic sounds linked to reloading and footsteps and the rustling of your clothes while moving, all the items are given the sounds you would expect to keep you immersed. For example; the water sloshing inside of your water bottle, the bubbling sounds as you refill it by submerging it in water and boxes of ammo and guns rattling when shook – it’s all these fantastic uses of audio that make the audio design perfect. Mixing the look of the settings and little visual touches to the outstanding audio really makes for a great immersive experience, even with the odd random sound and enemy AI issues it makes it easy to overlook these current short comings.

From what I have played CONVRGENCE is a lot of fun but, at the moment it seems like its just a foundation on what could be possible with the title. The sound design is way ahead of most VR games for realism and something I think other developers should take example from because, the immersion the sound builds in CONVRGENCE is next level. It would not be early access if it didn’t have some issues and this is the case with CONVRGENCE, you will find issues with some interactions, collisions and glitchy animations which need more polish. Also you might suffer slight performance issues at times even if your rig exceeds the requirements for the game, but again this is early access and patches have already made improvements and could see more as it goes through development. With CONVRGENCE coming from a solo-developer, what it is already doing is outstanding and in some cases doing things better than most VR games currently available. With the right improvements and some more polish to the current state of the game over the rest of development, he could make one of the most immersive games to hit Virtual Reality.