After the success of Radial-G as a launch via Steam Early Access, few could blame Tammeka Games for wanting to expand the IP into a franchise. Radial-G: Infinity, a somewhat muted release on Google Cardboard, did little to aid this effort, but the forthcoming Gear VR edition of the endless runner looks set to be a whole different story.
Yes, Radial-G: Infinity X is an endless runner. Reducing the intense high speed racing of Radial-G to a mobile format would be a stretch with even the best available hardware, but doing so with the added requirements of virtual reality (VR) would be nigh on impossible. Thankfully, Tammeka Games have decided against this and taken an inspired approach in adapting the formula to a wholly different genre.
As is the convention, the player’s craft automatically accelerates and maintains its top speed. The action takes place across the player’s 180 degrees forward-facing field-of-view with the vehicle moving left to right, opposed to scaling the world forward, as is the tradition with the genre. The trappings of Radial-G – the boost and speed reduction gates, jumps and manual boost options – make the transition intact, though their iconography has changed, and additional mechanics have been added to bring the experience inline with the switch to a new genre.
While attempting to hit as many of the boost lanes as possible the player is able to collect power increasing orbs that allow for the manual boost, as opposed to relying on reduction of health. In fact, there is no ship damage or health in Radial-G: Infinity X; the challenge simply ends when the player’s vehicle falls from the track or is caught by the hulking robotic monstrosity that follows behind throughout. There are multiple lanes the player can switch between in order to gather as many of these orbs as possible, and also to avoid the irritatingly concussive red lanes.
In addition to the orbs there has been a number of power-ups added. These are typically used to slow down your would-be assailant upon impact; a momentary lapse in aggression but one that is useful all the same, especially when its speed is outperforming your own after a red lane incident.
This early build of Radial-G: Infinity X features just 3 craft to pilot, with each subsequent vehicle unlocked by achieving a set score. Only one backdrop is available and the ‘records’ is limited to local score only. Whether or not Tammeka Games intend to expand on this – adding more vehicles, tracks and online leaderboards – in time for launch is not currently known, though it certainly would be a worthwhile endeavour to give Radial-G: Infinity X some added longevity.
Radial-G: Infinity X is set to enter a marketplace that already has a number of notable competitors in the endless runner genre, and will likely have a tough time finding its way to the top of the sales charts on Gear VR. The fact that it brings a few unique ideas and does well to combat the possibility of simulation sickness – something which the acclaimed pioneer in the field, Temple Run, did not do for its VR edition – is a credit to the team at Tammeka Games. It’s only a matter of time until we learn whether the Gear VR audience are prepared to look at innovation over branding.