Welcome to the brave new world of The Oculus Rift, the virtual-reality headset that debuted earlier this year and seems poised as the next big thing for gamers. Several games come with the system, and while none are perfect, they all show promise. Those prone to dizziness or motion sickness might want to take Dramamine before playing.
EDGE OF NOWHERE The game begins like an expensive Steven Spielberg action film. A panther leaps at you just after you lose your life’s love in a lush, humid jungle. In the next scene, you’re in a twin-propeller plane that crashes, killing the pilot sitting next to you. You awaken in a stormy Antarctica, crafted with extraordinary ice mountains. Playful penguins belly-slide on the ice and flop into the churning sea. As the story unfolds, you try to escape from a crazed shooter, fight off insectlike creatures with rocks and constantly climb ice walls. It’s not a thin, tedious experience, but it is repetitive. The game’s overall feel is eerie, but it could benefit from a wider variety of playing options.
LUCKY’S TALE Lucky the fox jumps, leaps and collects gold coins, all the while leaving a trail of dust as he speeds forth in high-top sneakers. In this colorful world, the environment can encircle you and you sometimes feel like an omnipotent giant looking down and around. It’s not very VR-heavy visually, but there are some marvelous moments. You can look down into cavernous waterfalls. Fish from lakes leap out onto your face, er, your headset. But the game poses a conundrum: While it’s aimed at small children, Oculus’ website warns that the headset shouldn’t be donned by kids under 13. Extended play “could negatively impact hand-eye coordination, balance and multi-tasking ability.” An Oculus representative said the company suggests that kids playing games like Lucky’s Tale should be supervised by adults.
ALBINO LULLABY, EPISODE 1 This reasonably terror-inducing horror game begins with an echoing, disembodied voice whispering “Remember us. Come back for us.” Ahead is a sign which reads, “All Prisoners Must Be Fully Sedated.” Actually, you are a “worm,” a ragamuffin trying to escape a haunted orphanage populated by grim oddities with devilish, agonized faces. The game, with rooms you sometimes twist and turn like a Rubik’s Cube to solve puzzles and find your way out of, has all the nonlinear logic of a Dali-esque nightmare. Albino Lullaby’s frightening environment is offset by weak graphics and a rambling story.