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Tentacular

Preview: Tentacular – Living the Kaiju Dream

Tentacular is shaping up to be a monstrously good time.

As I reach the two-hour mark of Tentacular, an important plot point is dropped and I’m shown a title card reading ‘to be continued’. And I’ve never been more disappointed. Because by this point I was hooked. I would happily spend hours and hours flinging objects, building ridiculous wobbly towers and generally waving jelly-like tentacles around.

If you haven’t watched a trailer of Tentacular yet then you should do so now. I’ll wait… Right, so what you will see there is a whole host of silliness; throwing cars, catching shipping containers, utilising power lines as a makeshift slingshot. The aim of this cephalopod simulator is to aid the people of La Kalma in their everyday life.

One day you might be asked to help excavate the city dump, the next you’ll be tasked with helping test launch rockets with almighty throws. What’s important is that each activity is incredibly enjoyable, even when the game asks for a bit more precision. To start off, the mayor and his staff ask to test your monster appendages. It’s the usual tutorial of picking things up, throwing them, placing them neatly. These small situations reveal a vast oceanic depth to come.

The preview build allowed me to play through the opening chapters of the game. I met the monster’s sister, a human who discovered the monster’s egg washed up on the shore. She talks to me about life and her lighthouse home. The game signals that to speed up the human speech I can tap them on the head with the tip of a tentacle. It’s farcically funny.

Upon reaching the city to be tested for the best career path for my monster physique, it’s hard to stick to the game itself because everything is interactive. I started petting the random dogs, knocking over objects strewn around the port or picking up people and dropping them wherever I saw fit to. Thankfully there’s a playground area where the game provides props and assets to simply mess around with.

In the end, I got on with the story, pulling switches and tapping buttons to transport myself to playing areas. I thought moving around would be cumbersome, but using the thumbsticks added a level of intricacy, which is needed for the main crux of the game; building.

Building requires the use of M.A.G.N.E.T.S, a quirky invention by our scientist boss. Using the tentacles you’re asked to use girders, shipping containers, large steel plates and these small spherical magnets, to create buildings. This being a ‘physics’ game, the buildings become as floppy and bendy as, well, a large tentacle. It’s a bit like playing World of Goo in its precariousness.

As the preview went on, the game began to introduce items that cancelled out a magnetic pull, or the ability to change the magnet sizing. This opens up the ‘solutions’ of building levels because you can use any tactic or plan to fulfil the objectives.

Between levels of construction the story is drip-fed, always with an eye on interaction, whether that’s tapping the humans or hitting a projector remote to control as a slideshow, or just idly fiddling with the environment while an NPC chats away.

I was having an obscene amount of fun. Even interacting with the menus carries a level of satisfaction – pulling large chunky switches with a satisfying clunk, or lifting the roof of a building like a jewellery box revealing buttons to press, or people to talk to. Tentacular promises a huge amount of things to do, all underpinned by a sweet story focusing on family. I can’t wait to be able to pick up where I left off, though there’s a chance I’m going to replay those two hours because it’s the most fun I’ve had in VR for some time.

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