The initial enthusiasm over VR is long past and we're starting to get into an era where VR needs to prove itself as a viable form of entertainment. We're no longer content with brief experiences, casual fun, or glorified tech demos. Sure, there are some proper games for VR players to bite into, but there's a hunger and a desire for more. One team that hopes to fill this need is Fast Travel Games, a studio set up in Stockholm's Old Town. Their first game Apex Construct was first shown as part of Sony's Paris Games Week keynote last week, and we recently stopped by their offices for a demo and a chat about what is shaping up to be an interesting game that blends exploration, narrative, and puzzles with rather intense bow and arrow action.
"It's a fun action-adventure where you are the, seemingly at least, last person living on Earth", explains creative director Erik Odeldahl, who served as design director on Mirror's Edge Catalyst prior to setting up Fast Travel Games. "You return to Earth after some major event has more or less removed all human and animal life from the planet. And it's up to you to kind of figure out what the hell has happened here and you end up in a conflict between two powerful AIs that both have plans for you."
One of these powerful AIs is Father (we don't know if the other is called Mother yet, but it would make sense) and you'll soon learn that he's at least in part responsible for bringing you back. As you'd expect he's not terribly forthcoming.
The bow and arrow mechanic feels very natural, so much so in fact that while there are tutorials for other mechanics the developer didn't feel the need for a bow tutorial as it just comes naturally. It's a high-tech bow and comes with some interesting perks and options. First of all, it produces an energy shield if you press the left trigger. This shield is capable of absorbing a few shots from the enemy robots. Unfortunately, you cannot shoot arrows while the shield is up, so you can't cover behind the shield and shoot at the same time. Instead, you'll need to use it tactically together with dodging. Moving your head away from incoming bolts is enough, but if you're playing with room-scale VR you can move around more in order to find advantageous angles and if you immerse yourself you'll soon start to sweat a bit.
We played a demo consisting of the prologue and part of the first proper mission using HTC Vive, and thus got a feel for how the game works in room-scale VR. Clearly, it's an advantage as it allows you more room to dodge whereas in a seated experience you'll need to bob your head (the enemy always aims for your head) or make use of the shield. The game requires motion controllers, so either the SteamVR controllers, Oculus Touch, or PlayStation Move depending on your choice of headset, but it supports room scale, standing, and seated experiences.