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Review: Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner

VRFocus delivers a review of The Department of Silly Stuff’s recently released Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner, now available exclusively for the Samsung Gear VR.

Faceted Flight is a title that has been doing the rounds among the virtual reality (VR) community for quite some time. Having undergone an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign last year, the videogame drew the attention of the early adopters and has since become something of a landmark title among VR enthusiasts. While the core experience is designed for the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner has launched first on the Gear VR in time for the consumer release of the mobile head-mounted display (HMD).

The videogame plays in a fashion not too dissimilar from Nintendo’s beloved Star Fox series, though without combat engagement. The player takes control of the flying vehicle from a third-person perspective, looking in the direction they wish to move. A yellow indicator arrow displays the point on the screen to which the vehicle will move on both horizontal and vertical planes, while the speed at which the vessel travels is maintained automatically. A barrel roll manoeuvre is also available with swipes of the Gear VR’s built-in touchpad. The idea of the videogame is simple: traverse each course successfully without colliding with obstacles in the environment.

Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner screenshot

A lightweight tutorial is enough to teach the player the basics of flight control, and it’s not long until you are invited to take on more challenging designs. The levels are randomly generated, and so while there is a clear difficulty curve you may occasionally find that a course that is overly challenging on your first 3 or 4 attempts may be significantly easier on the fifth time through.

Sadly, Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner has a major issue in that of its collision detection. While the player will always attempt to avoid any chance of impact, the occasional clip through scenery will go unpunished. However, in other instances a space which seems plentiful will result in failure. Whether it’s the hitboxes on the scenery or the different ships that aren’t balanced correctly is unknown, though in VRFocus‘ experience it appears to be the former.

Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner features just 3 environments and 3 ships, each new ship unlocked once having completed each subsequent environment. It’s a limited experience for sure, though as with IRIS VR’s Kerser, Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner is designed with old school sentimentalities in mind: the idea is not so much to ‘complete’ the videogame, but rather replay levels in an attempt to beat your previous score and work your way up the online leaderboard.

Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner screenshot

The visual design of Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner is certainly a highlight; simplistic yet stylised enough to remain interesting. Its blocky polygonal landscapes and angular water provide ample a enjoyable yet not-too-distracting backdrop to the action. However, the sound design is rather jarring, with jaunty menu music presenting a distinct contrast to the in-game effects.

Faceted Flight: Canyon Runner is a unique proposition on the Gear VR currently as, while concerned with player dexterity, it’s not about reflex shooting action but rather positioning. The unfortunately limited nature of the package prevents it from being a ‘must have’ title, but with it’s low price tag it’s a welcome opportunity to explore more of what mobile VR can offer.

  • Verdict
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