Kill It With Fire VR Offers An Arachnophobia Nightmare Today On Quest, PC VR

Kill It With Fire VR is out now on Quest 2 and PC VR, offering an absolute nightmare immersive experience for anyone with arachnophobia.

Initially released for flatscreen platforms, this new Kill It With Fire port brings the indie spider-hunting game into VR, which will see you take control of increasingly crazy and powerful weapons of spider destruction in a quest to rid environments of the creepy crawlies.

After playing through some of the Quest release earlier this week, the highlight was just how much the game leans into the nightmare scenario. I’m not someone who is particularly freaked out by spiders – I live in Australia, so seeing them around the  house is a fairly common occurrence – but even so, the game did a good job at making my skin crawl.

Spiders will be hiding everywhere – in drawers, behind furniture, under ornaments. Every time you uncover one, a series of unsettling staccato string notes put you on edge and play uncomfortable melodies as you use items or weapons to kill the spider before it runs off. The frantic pace and the off-kilter string melodies work well together, giving me goosebumps even when I felt prepared for sudden spider jump scares.

That said, the eerie ambiance is perhaps better than some of the interactions that surround it. From what I played – a few of the game’s opening levels – I found the interactions to be a bit unreliable and hectic. You can pick up almost any item to hit a spider with, but even whacking a standard rectangle-shaped TV remote against a spider on a flat surface yielded some pretty strange results.

kill it with fire vr

Sometimes spiders will get squashed as expected, but I also had instances where items flew around the room or an object would fling a spider across the environment instead of squashing it.  There’s an element of intended imprecision that’s no doubt part of the playful game design, but I still found the interactions to be a little all over the place for my liking. Perhaps things improve as the levels progress – especially as you unlock more of a fire-based arsenal and others weapons that depend less on physicality – but the physics and item interactions felt a little inconsistent to start.

That said, the ambiance created by the build up and eventual discovery of each spider is great. I can’t imagine someone with arachnophobia enjoying the game, which is actually a counter-intuitive compliment. There are settings to turn off or tune down some of those spider effects, such as the unsettling strings, but I’d argue that using them would almost defeat the purpose of playing the game in the first place.

If you’re looking to get properly freaked out by some virtual spider hunting, then Kill It With Fire is available now on Quest 2, Quest Pro and PC VR via Steam, with a PSVR and PSVR 2 release coming later this year.

Pin City Shows Promise With Zany VR Bowling Scenarios

In the roughly 15-minute demo of Pin City I played at PAX East 2023, I hurled my bowling ball over fires, through tunnels and into halfpipes.

Put simply, it looks like Studio 217 is making sure the game lives up to its ‘VR bowling with a twist’ subtitle.

Inspired by the mechanics of mini golf, the object of Pin City isn’t just to rack up the highest score possible in each frame, but also to figure out the best way to get your ball to collide with the pins at the end of your lane without being thwarted by any number of obstacles.

In a normal bowling alley, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. In Pin City, it is. Popular mini-golf obstacles block your ball’s way, adding an arcade-like twist to the sport. Similar to What The Bat? and What The Golf?, Pin City starts out simple: a normal bowling alley with a normal lane and ten pins. The more frames you play through, the more chaotic things get. Eventually, you’ll be defying gravity or jumping over fire with your ball. You might even get outside of a typical bowling lane!

pin city

With rules this loose and goofy and a foundation this fun, the sky really is the limit for Pin City – once they can ring in the actual throwing mechanics of the game, at least. Wii Sports, the first game to really nail motion-controlled bowling in a video game, gave a sense of weight by limiting your character’s range of motion to essentially the arc your arm takes when rolling a bowling ball in real life.

Pin City, on the other hand, has a greater challenge. At every point in the game, Pin City allows players to have a full range of motion with their head and hands, meaning that it’s harder to get a feel for the right throw. When I spoke to the developers, they were very upfront about the challenge, telling me that their biggest priority at the moment is getting the rolling part – specifically the weighty feel of the bowling bowl – just right. While I don’t know the studio’s ultimate goal for Pin City, I do think adding some limitations for throws might allow for the rest of the game to shine more.

As I was getting my VR bowling sea legs, I accidentally threw my ball in just about every direction because I had some trouble understanding its weight and feel. After all, the Quest 2’s controllers aren’t nearly as heavy as a bowling ball. Even after getting the hang of things, I still found myself struggling as the lanes continued to evolve.

While I personally didn’t explore much beyond Pin City’s main attraction, the developers teased that other parts of the bowling alley are explorable and interactable. You can move your character around the lobby using teleportation-style movement and interact with various parts of the environment. It’s an idea that holds potential if explored further. Bowling alleys have a very iconic, consistent aesthetic to them and it would be interesting to see minigames explore some of that vibe and culture.

After talking with the developers about the game’s inspirations, I became even more excited about where this game could go. With DNA rooted in a range of games, from Walkabout Mini Golf to Boom Blox to What The Golf?, Pin City has some big shoes to fill. Moving forward, the key will be nailing the feel of the virtual bowling ball. But after trying the game out and listening to the Studio 217 team discuss their creative and mad-cap ideas, I have faith in this small team and I’m excited to see where they strike next.

A Knight In The Attic Preview: An Arthurian Tilt Maze Rolling Onto Quest 2, PC VR

I love it when games surprise me the way A Knight In The Attic did. 

Not to discount the fun that comes from VR’s most popular genres, but this felt like something I’d never seen before. At PAX East 2023, I played the first 20 minutes of an early demo build of A Knight In The Attic, set to release April 13 on Meta Quest and PC VR.

In A Knight In The Attic, you unravel the mysteries housed within a dusty attic. With a very light narrative that centers around the Arthurian Legend’s femme fatale, Guinevere, this game maintains a mystical sensibility that really drew me in. In fact, playing the demo at Mighty Yell’s booth at PAX East, I completely lost myself in the game. The convention’s chaotic cacophony melted away as I explored the tilt maze-inspired world.

This is a great example of a game within a game. Your character is interacting with magical items in an attic. There’s scrolls that doll out tutorials, drawers that require keys to unlock, and a jar to catch fireflies, but the star of the show is the world of Camelot. Presented as a tilt maze, you hold and move the maze in your virtual hands the same way you would in real life.

There’s a twist, though. Instead of a marble, you’re rolling Guinevere around the maze. And instead of a plain wooden maze, you’re rolling Guinevere around the world of Camelot. The gameplay is quite engaging, with obstacles and challenges that provide clever twists beyond just avoiding walls and holes. Striking a good balance between challenge and smart checkpoints, it’s no pushover, but it also never treats the player unfairly. Extra collectibles also really encouraged me to put my skills to the test, though I only happened upon one or two during my time with the game.

After progressing to a certain point, you’re drawn out of the tilt maze aspect and  encouraged to interact with other objects in the attic around you. This demo did a great job of balancing each side of its gameplay to keep you not only engaged, but continually searching for the next key, puzzle or objective.

My only concern is with the game’s narrative. Yes, it’s based on a fairy tale and aimed at all audiences, but it felt a bit sparse. One of the game’s main collectibles is optional scrolls that expand Knight’s story, but I never felt pulled into the story or even sure enough of what was going on to feel compelled to grab the scroll beyond the extra challenge.

Narrative complaints aside, I’m interested to see how A Knight In The Attic’s gameplay continues to evolve when the full game releases this month. Keep an eye out for more thoughts on the game in the coming weeks.

Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom Hands-On – Welcome to Shelbyville

Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom arrives on Quest and Pico next week. Alongside a new hands-on preview, we interviewed developer Maze Theory to learn more.

It’s been nearly four years since Maze Theory released Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, and now, they’re back again with a new TV show adaptation. Swapping time travellers and Daleks for Birmingham gangsters in the 1920s, Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom offers an original story set between Seasons 4 and 5. Teaming up with the notorious Thomas and Arthur Shelby (voiced respectively by their original actors, Cillian Murphy and Paul Anderson), it places you directly inside England’s criminal underworld.

Peaky Blinders The King's Ransom preview event newspaper

With The King’s Ransom launching on March 9, I attended a preview event in London which saw the game collaborating with Camden’s Peaky Blinders: The Rise experience. Watching a performance in the Shelby family warehouse set the tone well, and seating areas were packed with newspapers discussing the hunt for Winston Churchill’s red box. After a short performance, I went hands-on with the Quest 2 edition for under an hour.

It’s no secret that licensed adaptations have a poor history in gaming, but The King’s Ransom is doing its best to stay true to the main series, theme song and all. It captures the harsh streets of Birmingham well , but the standalone hardware means these character models don’t look great – Tommy looks somewhat off, while character animations feel janky. Still, walking into The King’s Ransom is a pleasant surprise, and Peaky Blinders fans will likely be pleased.

Following a quick walk into The Garrison pub, it isn’t long before you’re reunited with your old friend Tommy, who immediately brings you back into gang life. The pub’s private room hides a man ready for interrogation, tied up and masked with a crude sack. You’re given a gun, hammer and more to make him “cooperate.” Once you’ve got the information, you have a choice: kill him or leave him alive. From what I’m told, these choices have minor consequences but nothing that genuinely affects the narrative.

After heading to the betting shop, I soon found myself in a shootout without a gun, leading into a pretty basic combat segment. All I could do was find some clippers to disarm three bombs, achieved by pulling a panel and hitting the wires, while leaving the shooting to Polly Gray. Creeping from cover to cover wasn’t interesting and even when crouched, I took several hits. I’m hoping combat improves later on as, while this is fine for VR newcomers, veteran players may find this somewhat dull.

Still, I’m enjoying the setting and Maze Theory were happy to answer my questions about Peaky Blinders. Shortly after finishing this demo, I interviewed Russell Harding, Chief Creative Officer.

UploadVR: Peaky Blinders isn’t necessarily the first thing many would think of for a VR game, where did the idea come from?

Harding: I did a little bit of gangster VR work with London Heist. Coming off of Doctor Who, I was really keen to think of something that would push us in different directions, but also build on what we’ve learned by working with showrunners. Trying to place people in that experience. We obviously love the TV show and when you break the show down, there’s such an immersive environment. 

If you look at it culturally, you can see that it’s almost created its own tribe, influencing fashion. There were lots of these types of live events appearing around and we felt there was something that people really would aspire to be in. It felt natural to take those things we liked. When you break down the world itself, it’s visually rich and VR is so good at taking you to those places…When you look at the stories around the  Peaky Blinders, those twists and turns really give some interesting mechanics and dramatic moments for action; it feels really suitable for VR. I also think you don’t need to know the IP. If you’re into gangster or action-adventure experiences, it’s easy to pick up those traits and understand. As soon as you meet those characters, you get where they sit in that world.

UploadVR: How did you approach that with newcomers to the series? How does The King’s Ransom fit into the series?

Harding: We’ve been really careful and we felt that there was a great opportunity to go in between seasons four and five. During those in-between years, we don’t really know what happens within the timeline. We felt that the Shelbys as a family are very recognizable as a gangster family, so it’s quite quickly relatable. You don’t need to have a lot of background family information.

We very deliberately chose to flow the player in from the point of view where, you don’t need to know anything about it. You’re arriving in this world and you’re going to meet this gangster, [Tommy Shelby]. We kept the premise really simple in that respect. We allowed you, as you do in any game, to be introduced to a character and not necessarily assume that you know a lot of depth about them.

But it gives you that depth if you want it through things that you find in the world, which includes collecting letters or bios. So, if you come across the character in The King’s Ransom, you have a journal as part of your character. You’re very journalistic, so you record everything. We felt that that also gave a kind of opportunity for people to delve a bit more into the characters and they wanted to.

peaky blinders: the king's ransom

Upload VR: At the start, you have a choice where you kill a man in The Garrison’s private room. I presume you can let him live but I went for the gun to avoid angering Shelby. Do these choices have a greater impact on the narrative, or is there a set destination?

Harding: We thought about it a lot and we felt that it’s really difficult to control the players’ behavior in VR. You don’t have to kill the guy, it’s down to your behavior. There is a reflection on that within the story; it doesn’t massively change the outcome but it will be recognized. There’s a couple of instances where we do that and I think they’re obvious to players as well. That cause and effect is very subtle but obvious to you, because you know whether you killed him or not.

Upload VR: Things like changing dialogue or something similar?

Harding: Yeah. We also spend a lot more time trying to encourage players to break off the narrative path a bit, to go and explore the world of the Shelbys. We use collectibles to encourage you to investigate, find out more about the world and how it’s setup. 

Upload VR: I did notice that with the cigarettes and the cards scattered around.

Harding: Coming off the back of something like Doctor Who, where there’s more limitations with scale and size, we wanted to try and make more opportunity for players to explore and spend more time in that world. If you play through the narrative, there’s always something to get from the world.

Upload VR: Thinking of Doctor Who, is there any feedback you’ve taken on board from The Edge of Time?

Harding: Absolutely. Every game is building on your last game, there’s always things you learn or even things that you just couldn’t do for various reasons. So, one of the things we did wanted to do is give people the opportunity to go back into the world or explore the world more, so that if you go into Garrison’s Lane into some of those side rooms, there is more freedom.

peaky blinders: the king's ransom

Upload VR: Roughly speaking, how long does it take to get through this adventure?

Harding: About 4-5 hours. Having played it more recently, I feel more confident in that now. I think there’s a lot of opportunity and fun in just going back, which is something that we couldn’t really do before. I think it’s something that people will really enjoy. It’s a little bit like being in the immersive venues we looked at when we started off. The storytelling you get by being in a space, it’s quite fun to go back to. 

In Doctor Who, we learned that we moved people through that experience too quickly and too restrictive. You lose the opportunity for the player to just play at their own pace. And I think that’s really important in VR. If you want to spend 20 minutes exploring the garage and garrison, you can, and people do. You can just move through it, maybe go back later or find out what was hidden in the back of the garage.

Upload VR: I know you’ve got The King’s Ransom running on Quest and Pico. Standalone headsets are more limited when it comes to hardware, so how did you approach that?

Harding: We decided to focus on Quest and Pico first because they are the most demanding. We wanted to create something visually rich, full of interaction and physics, so we felt that if we pushed on that platform the most, then we could keep to the truest experience and balance out where we put emphasis around animation, character interaction. We didn’t want to lose the interaction in the world or characters, so it felt natural to focus on that platform first because it’s the most demanding. 

It’s always easier to take high resolution assets and break them down. But from a technical art point of view, those platforms are the most challenging, so that’s where we put a lot of effort. Quest is the largest platform, you need to play to their strengths. We narrowed it down to focus on those two platforms so that we could do those and do them well.

UploadVR: I was also going to ask about Playstation VR2.

Harding: Of course. I think when it comes to future headsets and new platforms, it stems back to what we said. We’re focusing and focused on Quest. If you go onto another platform, we want to do the same and we want to see what we can bring. I think it’s fair to say that all developers look at all of the platforms, all of the time. It’s about evaluating when’s the right opportunity to focus on that platform and in what order, that changes all the time.

I think when you’re a VR developer, it’s pretty hard. You don’t have the audience of the large triple A titles or budgets. You have multiple headsets, different interaction methods and you’ve got different audiences across VR now. It’s quite complex for developers, so I think it really helps if you can just focus on one platform, get that working well…then you utilize those resources again to get it onto the next platform. You do see quite a few teams splitting releases because of that.

Peaky Blinders Garrison

UploadVR: You’ve done Doctor Who and now Peaky Blinders. If there’s anything you could adapt, any TV show or otherwise, what would you choose?

Harding: I think there’s some old games that would be quite fun to do, but as a world, I would love to go into a genuine cyberpunk world and visit something that we used to enjoy when I was younger. I think something in the future would be really good but I can’t pinpoint anything right now.

Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom arrives on March 9 for the Meta Quest platform and Pico 4. It’s also coming to PC VR via Steam, though a release date remains unconfirmed.

App Lab Roundup: Puzzles, Blocks and Smashing

Each week we will be taking a look at some of the upcoming videogames, demos and unique experiences available through Oculus App Lab for the Meta Quest headsets. Many of these videogames come in varying states of completion, so each title is subject to change.

This week we’re fixing priceless artefacts, playing 3D Tetris and smashing out our anger!


There’s a wonderful simplicity to VRPuzzle; as the game starts I find myself in a museum room surrounded by valuable sculptures and earthenware. Tapping the grip button while aiming at a sculpture breaks it down into shattered pieces, across three difficulty levels. Choosing the easiest, I tapped the grip button again and found myself in the centre of the room, pieces of statue around me.

From here, it should seem quite obvious that I needed to put the bust together again. There’s a lovely, very satisfying click as the correct pieces slot together. Manipulating the pieces is smooth and intuitive, they can be passed from hand to hand in order to find the sweet spot.

At the easiest level, VRPuzzle is a ridiculously calming experience. It’s still relaxing at the hard difficulty, but the sheer number of broken pieces can feel a bit overwhelming, as I picked through the tiniest shards to form the sculpted face or waves of hair. I found myself playing for much longer than I intended, picking bowls and urns to puzzle over, feeling satisfied once the sculpt clicks together and fully completes.


I don’t know why this game is called Flickblocks, there are blocks, but there’s no flicking. Definitely lots of blocks though. They fall from the sky at timed intervals and the idea is to grab them and place them on a grid which floats in front of the player. 

At first, I was unsure I’d have enough space to play because the game requires free movement around the grid, particularly to pick up any pieces which land on the floor, and you’ll need to grab those because if too many pieces fall to the floor, it’ll be game over.

Much like Tetris, once the bottom layer is filled the layer disappears. Because I was using 3D shapes, though there are some familiar shapes from the classic title, it forced me to think in more dimensions, leaving gaps open on higher layers for more blocks. For example, sending a four-block piece on its end means thinking about the three layers above the base. 

At first, Flickblocks feels simple, but it quickly becomes a devious puzzler. Thankfully the gameplay loop just screams out ‘one more turn’, particularly if you, like me, enjoy trying to beat your own high scores.

Smashy Smashy VR

Your mileage may vary with Smashy Smashy VR. For some, it’ll be a few minutes of distraction, for others it might be a much-needed way to unload some stress; because this is literally a destruction simulator. I first chose a corporate office to smash up. I was throwing telephones through windows, picking up potted plants and launching them across the office to shatter TV screens. I found a fire axe and crumpled every desk into splinters. Obviously, I was having a bad day.

I then chose an overly large chess set. Kind of like those toy versions you sometimes see in parks. Except these pieces are made of concrete and I had a huge hammer. Using that hammer I decimated every single chess piece before jumping out of that world and into a supermarket. 

I hate supermarkets so I grabbed a trolley (cart for those across the Atlantic) and brandished it above my head, bringing it down on each display. I pulled boxes out from the bottom of stands, watching everything tumble. I picked up six packs of beer and smashed every window I could see.

It was a satisfying fifteen minutes. It got a bit of rage out, it cracked a few smiles, but then I was done. I don’t really feel a need to pick it back up again, because there’s no tactility and the smashing can only go so far. Totally worth a little time being Smashy Smashy, though.

App Lab Roundup: Climbing and Escaping

Each week we will be taking a look at some of the upcoming videogames, demos and unique experiences available through Oculus App Lab for the Meta Quest headsets. Many of these videogames come in varying states of completion, so each title is subject to change.

This week we’re climbing mountains and trying to conquer an escape room!


In Ascend, you’re faced with a rather large mountain. The goal, as may seem obvious, is to reach the summit. You’ll see there are plenty of handholds and a handy press of the ‘A’ button will even show an optimal route to take. The actual climbing is pretty simple, just hold the grip buttons when your hand is in the vicinity of a jut of rock. From then on it’s a simple affair of pulling yourself up and reaching out for new grips.

There are few dangers, aside from the obvious gravity. Falling or being bitten by a snake or wolf will cause your vision to turn a hazy red, which can only be healed by taking a swig of water or finding and petting a friendly animal, like a goat (In my opinion, goats aren’t all that friendly). This will clear your vision, allowing for a speedier climb.

Because reaching the top is your only real goal, this all becomes gamified by the timer on your left hand. Repeating play requires you to climb faster and beat your time. To be honest though, I wanted to take everything rather slowly. The idea of spotting my next handhold, plodding along slowly, became my preferred way to play.

The world of Ascend doesn’t feel overly fleshed out; the textures are rather plain, though the mountain when stood back looks mighty impressive. Ascend isn’t going to wow anyone visually, but for those looking for a relaxed mountain climber, you can’t do much better than ‘for free’ on App Lab. Let’s hope the developer expands the mountain range and gives us more reasons to climb.

Vertical Room

Right off the bat, this game comes with two warnings from me. The first is that you need a minimum of two metres by two metres to play; the second is that all of the audio is, for some reason, spoken in German. The latter point is a minor frustration as the game does a great job of showing you what to do visually.

You start off in an elevator and the goal is to reach the top floor and escape. On each floor is a puzzle or game which must be beaten before the elevator unlocks and can travel upwards again. The puzzles vary wildly, from block stacking while matching patterns, to moving a hoop around a track of arrows, avoiding touching them, kind of like those old wire games which buzzed when the metal touched.

I wish I could tell you if there was a story to accompany the action, but the German Voiceover continued throughout. Thankfully it isn’t too off-putting. What was quite frustrating however, was a game where you had to catch balls fired at random intervals. I had enough space in my playing area and yet there were so many missed catches, even though I could have sworn that I moved my hand in time.

With some tweaking and more puzzles and games, Vertical Room could prove to be a huge success, as few developers have managed to truly capture the idea of an escape room in VR. As with so many of the games we cover here, Vertical Room is completely free through App Lab and hopefully there’s enough interest to create other language tracks, as well as more depth to the puzzles. A great proof of concept though.

Blockchain Gaming 101: is a strange beast. A fully-fledged shooter wedged into a browser which prides itself on Web3 inclusion, while keeping it tucked away to one side. There’s no doubting its Web3 chops, up until very recently the game was a simple shooter, broken down into the usual match types – team deathmatch, 8-player deathmatch, Battle Royale and last team standing. Then, in the last few weeks, the developers launched an NFT collection through the Fractal platform. 

By equipping an NFT player skin, currently costing a minimum of 1.10SOL (around $55), players will begin to earn crypto with each kill scored in-game. The same goes for weapon skins, which, as in other games, can be bought and applied, though here they are NFTs and are tied to your wallet. Of course, this opens up a market to resell your content should you decide to move on from the game, or invest in a new skin. plays a lot like Halo 2 did back in 2004. That’s not a dig, though. Remember how good Halo 2 felt to play? Everything flowed nicely, you could rush opponents or wait them out, there was variety in the weapons and the maps. You’ll recognise a lot of the gameplay mechanics and the feel of the weapons, particularly the standard rifle which feels like Halo’s BR55 Service Rifle, plus there’s the familiar sticky grenade for those clutch frags.

The sci-fi aesthetic is a welcome style which feels delightfully retro. Across the game’s twelve maps, there’s a heavy focus on bold colours, as well as geometric shapes. While lacks that feeling of a lived-in world, the map designs are constructed to create choke points, verticality and tactical positioning.

Tactics and twitch-gameplay are as important as the weaponry. An ability to double jump and utilise upgrades opening up movement even further breaks the game wide open as you seek out areas to gain a foothold over the competition. Nothing beats double-jumping over an opponent, teleporting to the high ground before grabbing the kill. finds itself in a great place; because the development team isn’t aggressively pushing the Web3 side as a selling point, the game can position itself simply on the gameplay. This is not only welcome to those who find the Web3 presence challenging, but it allows the game to find its own audience through the quality of play.

That audience is growing slowly. Let’s be honest, the shooter genre is a tangled mess of huge triple-A titles, battle royales and small indie developers vying for our precious hours. may find it difficult to grab its audience despite the accessibility of being able to play on any system, from a high-end desktop to a Chromebook.

There has been a surge in popularity for the browser-based shooter after an eSports tournament took place on 7th May 2022, offering a $10,000 prize pool split across the top three teams. The tournament ended after two days of competition with Telos XBorg taking third place and $2,000, krunkage scoring second place for $3,000 and Censored snagging the trophy and a grand prize of $5,000.

On Twitch, the game isn’t starting any fires, but without any influencer pushing, the game’s reach will be limited. Currently, the game is climbing through the Twitch ranks with a 7 day average of 28,852 hours watched, which has grown by 888.4%. Over the past seven days, the videogame saw 14,593 viewers tune in to watch, which is also a huge leap from the previous week, jumping up by 3,326%. deserves a little success for distilling what makes shooters fun. The potential here is vast, given the Halo inspirations, platform accessibility and character personalisation through NFTs and the ability to upgrade. Playing with friends is ridiculously easy, using a room code for parties, and doesn’t ask for wallet connections either, you can freely play as a guest.

This game will no doubt suffer from cynical views towards the Web3 aspects, but unlike many blockchain videogames, the NFTs are simply the cherry on top, if you enjoy cherries. Remove them from the game and you still have a solid shooter that is worth your time. 

Watch: 9 Minutes Of Green Hell VR PC Gameplay

Green Hell VR is due to launch on PC VR headsets next week, and we’ve got an exclusive first look at how it’s shaping up.

Just a few months back Incuvo released its Quest version of this survival game, based on the flatscreen original from Creepy Jar. And it was a smart, streamlined port – large areas of dense jungle had been condensed to help the game run on standalone hardware, the types of buildings and items you could craft had been reined in but new mechanics and interactions helped the game feel native to VR. The result was a much more approachable game that anyone could jump into, though fans of the original may have been disappointed with the simpler, undeniably easier gameplay.

If you’re in the latter tribe, you’ll want to keep an eye on Green Hell VR for PC.

Green Hell VR PC: Exclusive Gameplay

As you can see in the video above, this is the full-fat experience. Green Hell VR on PC aims to bring the entire original game into headsets, which means you’re getting the full map, a larger array of structures and items to craft and features missing from Quest like the ability to inspect and apply bandages to injured legs. The result is a much more ambitious take on the game than what’s come before but, from what I’ve played so far, Incuvo has done a great job of fitting the game onto headsets.

As with the Quest version, this is still an intensely physical experience. Trees need to be chopped with a hearty swing of an ax, spears are chucked with heft to shoot them across the jungle and an endless number of sticks and stones need to be gathered and nestled away in your backpack. There’s also a greater array of plant life and wildlife in this version, which means more threats just as much as it does more opportunities. If you prefer the much more demanding experience of the original game, then this is probably the version you’ll want to play in VR.

There are a few changes where the Quest version actually fares better, though. Extensively reworking the game for standalone allowed Incuvo to add new actions, like physically tying ropes around joints or knocking logs into the ground when making structures, but these are curiously absent here. Granted both the PC and standalone versions are set to see post-launch updates, so we could see other features come in over time.

As for performance and visuals, Incuvo says this isn’t the final build of the game so there are still improvements and optimizations to come. The footage above is taken on low graphics settings just to avoid any performance hitches, but I did have the game running pretty decently on a 3070 Ti with medium graphics settings, where it looked really good. Hopefully we’ll get a fully stable version at launch next week.

Green Hell VR is set to launch on PC June 9, during the Upload VR Showcase. Tune in to the show for a brand new look at the game!

Hands-On: Ruins Magus Isn’t The Game I Thought It Was – It’s Better

I’ve had a tough time deciphering what exactly Ruins Magus is over the past few months.

Initial trailers from 2021 suggested this gorgeous adventure might be a text-heavy visual novel experience akin to Tokyo Chronos. Then, at the Upload VR Showcase in December last year, we saw the first signs of combat, and wondered if the game might feature a kind of Japanese RPG battle system. Now that I’ve played it, I can actually tell you what Ruins Magus is: it’s a VR dungeon crawler. And a very good one at that.

Perhaps the best thing I could say about Ruins Magus right now is that, from its striking art direction right down to its fantasy premise, it feels like you’re inside an anime. You play as the newest member of the titular guild, a group of warriors, magicians and engineers that explores a deep set of ancient caverns carved into the belly of an enormous mountain. Nestled just outside the entrance is Grand Amnis, a prosperous gold rush town that makes its living from the findings of your expeditions. It’s also where you’ll get new missions, shop for items and talk to NPCs to learn more about the world.

Everything from the traditional character and set designs to the excitable Japanese voice acting is on-point here. Merchants sit in trinket-filled tents and guards patrol the streets with exotic weaponry in garbs that could fit right into a classic Final Fantasy game. Specifically on Quest, there’s none of that ugly texture meshing that tells you you’re playing a drastically downscaled PC VR port. Granted it might not have the technical complexity of some of the headset’s more realistic titles, but it’s not hyperbole to say this is one of the best-looking games on the system.

If there’s one thing that is off-putting it’s the strangely eye-less NPCs, which either mask their gaze with armor or, more alarmingly, long fringes. It gives some characters an unintentionally creepy look, like you’re in a town populated by the extended family of the vengeful spirit in The Ring.

When you’re not exploring the town, you’ll be taking on one of the game’s 25+ missions, facing off with enemies in the ruins. This is where Ruins Magus reveals itself as a surprisingly robust action game. At the start, players have access to a simple fireball spell summoned with the right trigger, as well as two switchable special skills used with the right grip. One is another fireball that creates area-of-effect damage, whilst the other is a charged lightning attack that covers a wider space the longer you hold it down. On your left hand, meanwhile, is a shield used to block incoming projectiles and, with the right timing, even parry them with a squeeze of the left trigger.

Smooth locomotion mixes with a blink-style dash mechanic, and you can also grab grenades and health potions bought from the item shop off of your chest. In other words, there’s quite a lot to consider here, and balancing the different attack types with the fast-paced movement can be overwhelming at first. Ruins Magus’ button-heavy control scheme did leave me tying my fingers in knots as I tried to remember which combination of inputs did what, though hopefully that learning curve can be tamed in the full game.

I definitely hope that’s the case given that, in its moments of clarity, this is a really exciting and physical combat system. Enemy attacks are big, bright projectiles that are easy to spot but tough to time, meaning you’ll need to be ready to throw your shield up or dash forward at a moment’s notice. I especially like how some attacks even wind their way towards you in a zig zag, making it hard to judge when they’ll arrive and from which angle.

I played the first few introductory missions, which took at least ten minutes or so each when you include the story sequences etc. There’s definitely a lot of potential for the combat to get even deeper and more demanding as you journey further into the ruins – I unlocked more attacks towards the end of the second mission and new enemy types threatened to both hit harder and become harder to hit. If the game can keep that pace up for its entire campaign, it should be a really dynamic and engaging experience.

Color me surprised, then. Ruins Magus isn’t the game I thought it was going to be but, based on what I’ve played, it’s also a fair bit better than I’d anticipated, too. I’ll wait until I’ve played through the full game nearer launch later this year to deliver final impressions. For now, Ruins Magus is due to launch sometime this summer, with a demo hitting Steam Next Fest this June.

App Lab Roundup: Vegetables and Hover Racing

Each week we will be taking a look at some of the upcoming videogames, demos and unique experiences available through Oculus App Lab for the Meta Quest headsets. Many of these videogames come in varying states of completion, so each title is subject to change.

This week we’re feeding vegetables and racing at speed!

I’m not entirely sure why anthropomorphic vegetables would want to eat chocolate chip cookies, but I feel like if I focus too hard on this the questions would continue spiralling out of control. Let’s just accept it. In Cookie Gardening you sit in a garden with lots of cute vegetables scurrying around; broccoli, potatoes, carrots and many more are darting around and it’s your job to catch them, put them in a basket and sell them.

How do you catch them? Easy, you drop cookies nearby and wait until they dash in before you snag them and throw them in the basket. I’d love to tell you what the point is, but I have no clue, and I’m not sure it even matters. After a successful hunt in the garden, you can head over to a shop to spend your hard-earned gold on upgrades, more bait cookies and new variants of the vegetables.

One of the first upgrades you’ll buy is an office, where a fussy VEGETABLE gives you particular tasks to earn bonus rewards. For example, collecting three types of potato rewards some extra gold.

Due to the very loose reasons to be in the garden hunting vegetables, and the ease with which the game plays, this would be ideal for a first VR game for kids. You don’t have to move around in reality, the veggies are easy to catch, everything is colourful and cute and the repetitive nature of the gameplay would attract children over adults. It’s a solid demo and a must-try for families with a Quest headset.

Omega Pilot

Omega Pilot uses asynchronous multiplayer to pit you against players from around the world (though real-time multiplayer is on the way) and I’m glad that real people didn’t have to witness me pilot my hovercraft into the walls. And floor. Or barrel roll it upside-down and barely bring it back to its correct position. I’m a terrible Omega Pilot.

Taking its cues from the Wipeout franchise – high-speed, angular, hovering vehicles – I found myself a pilot desperately trying to grasp control of the ship. Oddly, Omega Pilot has chosen to only use motion controls to steer the craft and they’re very sensitive. Holding the grip button and rotating your hand will roll the vehicle, and tilting it up and down will change the nose height. This all happens while holding the trigger to accelerate. This is all on the right controller, with the left taking care of button presses for a turbo boost and a slow-motion ability. 

By the end of my first race, I felt like I’d taken an unfortunate tumble in a washing machine. My vehicle was spinning, bumbling and what I can only call, careening, in every direction except the one I wanted. At points my vehicle was trying to impale itself nose-first into the ground, other times I would head into a corner feeling as if I was at the perfect angle only to run straight into a wall.

By the end of my first session I felt nauseous and a bit frustrated. Motion controls are great when done well and for many, these are probably fine, but leaving out stick movement feels like a misstep. In a racing world where sometimes up can become down swiftly, the addition of balancing motion controls feels a little overwhelming. I can imagine that for many, Omega Pilot would feel ‘too much’ and a little alienating.