E3 2015 Hands-On Preview
Jesse Woo Jesse Woo

Oculus Rift

Gunfire Games

Gunfire Games

Action RPG


Date Unknown

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Wakey wakey!
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Stay perfectly still, its vision is based on movement. I hope.
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Very atmospheric lighting at work.
"This could be a killer app for the Oculus, at least for RPG fans."

After seeing the announcement trailer for Chronos at the Oculus press conference in San Francisco and speaking to the developer, I was eager to get my hands on the game at the E3 showroom floor. I must say, the game did not disappoint and indeed exceeded all my expectations.

I was originally skeptical of using a VR headset to play a third person game, but after donning the Oculus and booting up the game, my doubts were immediately put to rest. Outdoor environments come alive in VR with the ability to stare off into the sky or peer over a cliff, while indoor spaces have an unparalleled sense of scale and presence. As the Oculus view is essentially the camera, getting up to move about the room allows you to examine the world much more closely. However, beware of vertigo as you step over a ledge to look around.

The environments are gorgeous and aptly set the atmosphere. The labyrinth's exterior is bright and green, with clear blue skies shining down on your hero, while the interior is dimly lit and moody. The game's audio played very well over the Oculus' built-in speakers but was not so loud that I couldn't hear the Oculus representative's hints and instructions. The music was not terribly memorable. In fact I was so caught up in the visual experience that I don't even remember if there was music, but the audio was immersive and set the right tone.

Chronos' hero controlled well on the Xbox One gamepad, a must for any action-RPG. It took me a little while to get used to the completely free range of motion of my character, and I sometimes got hit by enemy swings when I thought I had guarded properly, but overall it was a very smooth experience. By the end of the demo I was dodging and stringing together combos of light and heavy attacks with ease.

I was also impressed with the dungeon's non-linear design. I had multiple paths to explore and did not feel like was being funneled along toward a particular objective. Instead, the dungeon felt like a true labyrinth; twisted and confusing, but begging to be explored.

The puzzle aspects were sparse in the demo and there was not much to do beside explore and fight goblins. The dungeon itself is desolate and populated almost solely by little goblin-like monsters that attack on sight. However, the golem shown in the announcement trailer made an appearance and proved a major obstacle that required quick reactions to avoid.

Unfortunately I did not get to experience the game's signature mechanic of aging the hero, but given how well the combat controls as an action game I will be interested to see how he plays as an older, slower explorer.

Chronos blew me away with its visuals and tight controls. It really is an excellent example of what VR can do outside of the typical first-person shooter or flight simulator that most people imagine for the technology (although those are fantastic as well). This could be a killer app for the Oculus, at least for RPG fans.

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