The beau­ti­ful game of vir­tual re­al­ity

Mo­bile gam­ing is more com­pet­i­tive than ever as de­vel­op­ers look for new au­di­ences by de­vel­op­ing games that are sim­ple to play, but beau­ti­ful to ex­pe­ri­ence. Gar­reth van Niek­erk tries out three of them

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Limbo

The black-and-white Limbo is a dark, moody Quest-style game that plays out as a 2-D side-scrolling ad­ven­ture. It’s an ex­tremely in­tu­itive game that is beguil­ingly sim­ple and clas­sic in ex­e­cu­tion. In it, we fol­low a boy who has lost his el­der sis­ter and now needs to find her while mov­ing through a for­est that Play­dead, the Dutch de­sign group be­hind Limbo, ex­plains as “the edge of hell”. Even­tu­ally, the boy finds him­self in a city where he chases a white ghost that’s con­stantly out of his grasp. When he fi­nally catches the ghost, he is trans­ported to another realm, which I won’t spoil by re­veal­ing, but ex­pect dark, film noir beauty. It is so pretty and at times heart­break­ingly sin­cere that it might make you cry.

Mon­u­ment Val­ley

In Mon­u­ment Val­ley, de­vel­oped by in­die stu­dio ustwo, we lead Princess Ida through a maze of puzzles that take the form of cas­tles and is­lands. By Jan­uary this year, the game was down­loaded more than 2 mil­lion times. Last year, it won the Ap­ple De­sign Award and the Ap­ple iPad Game of the Year. While it isn’t ex­actly the hard­est game, some­thing crit­ics have slammed it for, it is with­out a doubt the most spec­tac­u­lar game I’ve en­coun­tered. It’s a bit like mov­ing through an MC Escher paint­ing in real time. It’s all op­ti­cal il­lu­sions and sur­real turns of per­spec­tive. The sound is also a dreamy au­dio experiment, so turn up the vol­ume when you ex­plore this Zen mas­ter­piece of vir­tual re­al­ity.

Alto’s Ad­ven­ture

Join snow­board­ing Alto on the slopes as he slides through moun­tains and val­leys to cap­ture his es­caped lla­mas in this whim­si­cal ob­sta­cle-type game that’s a lot like the skate­board­ing and golf games of the past, only much more beau­ti­ful. It’s the player’s job to catch the lla­mas and for each of them you’ll get a point on the score­board. It’s sim­ple to make Alto ramp, back­flip and pole-grind, and the more you do this, the more points you get. But this game isn’t about points; it’s all charm and in­tri­cate de­sign de­tails with beau­ti­ful weather scenes that will make you think twice about what a game should be. Also, there are lla­mas, so what’s not to love?

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