Developers have tried all manner of locomotion systems to make virtual reality (VR) more comfortable, trying to move away from the defacto teleportation method to something a little more natural. Survios’ Sprint Vector is a prime example of this, swinging your arms to gain momentum. And so is Archiact’s most recent project FREEDIVER: Triton Down, featuring the best swim mechanic to feature in VR to date.
FREEDIVER: Triton Down is a bold attempt at making an underwater adventure as seemingly realistic as possible, which then makes it one of the scariest non-horror experiences available. If you have any fear of boats, the ocean, or tight spaces then this is either one to miss – or possibly perfect for conquering those fears.
The main plot behind FREEDIVER: Triton Down is that it involves a ship hit by a rogue wave and is now sinking – there is more without spoiling too much – and you’re trapped on this vessel and need to get out quick sharpish. Luckily, you just so happen to be an amazing free diver who can hold their breath for a decent amount of time. Using this unique skill you need to find a route out of the ship, utilising any pockets of air and other useful items along the way.
So the swim mechanic. Well, this is the star of the show and should be comfortable for most players most of the time – comfort vignette settings are available – although there are certain fast-moving moments which could prove to be more unpleasant. Swimming is in fact very easy, with the standard breaststroke the main method of moving around. After a while, though your arms are going to ache so it is possible to forgo most of the breaststroke manoeuvre if needed. And just like you really do in the water, it’s possible to pop your head under the waves or dive right under swinging both arms up. Without actually being in the water, FREEDIVER: Triton Down is the closest to being able to lark around in a digital ocean.
However, Vacation Simulator this is not as time is of the essence and air is precious. Not too precious actually, because unless you really do lose your bearings underwater for most of the time air usually isn’t too far away. There are either pockets of air to swim up to or when under the surface oxygen bottles can be found every couple of rooms or so. This is also aided by an oxygen meter on your wrist which beeps, a handy little gadget which helps to avert drowning.
Because you’re in a sinking ship which is heading ever deeper beneath the waves the only task is to get out. Which means additional tasks are non-existent. There are basic puzzles to solve like turning the power on to open pressure doors but apart from that, you won’t need to come back once completed to find any missed items.
While all the flashy extras such as customisation options or other gameplay modes don’t exist in FREEDIVER: Triton Down, the videogame is still one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Short it may be (roughly an hour), nevertheless it’s an energetic journey which keeps you on edge at all times. Hopefully, Archiact plan on spinning this out further as FREEDIVER: Triton Down seems more like the first episode in a larger story.