Third-person virtual reality (VR) titles can be an odd affair. While most developers choose a first-person perspective for maximum immersion, having an overhead view of your character can still work well, just look at Lucky’s Tale, Chronos, Term1nal, Starbear: Taxi, and Moss for example. Today, indie developer CBILAB VR Studios has released a demo for its upcoming sci-fi thriller ManMade which embraces this third-person design, offering a teasing taste of what’s to come.
ManMade is actually a soon to be released Kickstarter campaign and it’s very unusual for a developer to have a demo available during a funding campaign let alone prior to one going live. The move maybe bold but it’ll likely help gain backers and the necessary funds need to complete the project.
The demo is very short, set inside a single room with loads of computer mainframes dotted about. The aim of this particular section is to hack a terminal and escape, hack the wrong one and the alarm goes off and it’s time to restart. Controls are your standard touchpad affair, pushing up will move the character up the screen and so on. You’ll also get a chance to test out a couple of his powers, scanning the area for clues then using his expert hearing to find another.
Issues that tend to happen with third-person videogames in VR result from the camera. Too far away and everything is in shot but tiny. Too close and the camera is constantly changing. While ManMade’s camera feels like the right point it does keep switching when walking around the towers, making the whole experience confusing when trying to weave the character through.
The actual puzzle itself is fairly easy, requiring a little trial and error to solve. That’s not the problem with the ManMade demo however. It’s the quick time event (QTE) right at the end. Love them or loath them QTE’s have their place when developers want to create an interactive yet cinematic moment in their title. The one in ManMade seems design to just infuriate. Of course in any QTE you have to be quick on the trigger yet here you’ll need the lightning reflexes of a superhero to get through first time. Not only is the speed required way too fast the actual UI location telling you which button to press keeps moving. So unless you do have supernatural reflexes it’s a case of tiresome repetition to learn the sequence to complete it.
ManMade is still in the very early stages of development. While the original trailer certainly looked very impressive the demo falls a little flat to be honest. Annoying QTE’s aside, the character seemed very wooden, lacking the animation of characters like Moss – almost echoing the acting style of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. There’s some interesting ideas at work and visually ManMade looks fairly solid. It’ll be interesting to see how development progresses, especially in relation to the success of the Kickstarter campaign.