I got to try two VR experiences at E3 2016 this year. One of them was the psychological horror game, Narcosis, and the other was the recently announced VR puzzle game Statik by Tarsier Studios.
Following our appointments on the show floor Thursday, Joanna and I trekked through downtown Los Angeles and met up with Tarsier at their apartment they are using as a little studio here in LA. In their apartment, they had a PS4 set up with an older build of a PlayStation VR unit, of which I will discuss my impressions in a later article.
Statik, as I mentioned before, is a puzzle game for the PlayStation VR, and while on paper it may not look that complex, the game has already changed the way I thought about VR. For someone like me that hasn’t had much experience with virtual reality titles, you mostly think about the presentation. You’re still going to be playing games the same way, but with a different point of view and level of immersion.
With Statik, that notion was turned on its head immediately. It’s easy to get confused by a puzzle game, but not once did I think I’d be confused by how to use a controller.
In Statik, your hands are tied to this little machine, and to get the machine to function, you have to mess with literally every single button on the controller. It took me a few minutes to figure everything out, and the developers had some chuckles as I tested different theories. Solving how the contraption works on your hands is a puzzle within itself, and then there’s the actual puzzles themselves to solve.
In my demo, I had to align shapes on the contraption with the coordinating picture board to complete each puzzle. Once I had all the picture boards completed, there was a final more challenging puzzle that had you align all the shapes you put together into one final arrangement.
Our demo didn’t really go much into the narrative of the game, but having a creepy doctor behind you and analyzing you is a little odd and really makes you feel like a test subject when you have the headset on.
Tarsier told me the puzzles in the final game of Statik will be quite varied and weren’t quite ready to discuss more about the game just yet. The game won’t be one of the first 50 titles releasing for the PlayStation VR this October, Tarsier told me. They plan on releasing the game in early 2017 for the PlayStation VR.
I came away from Statik quite impressed. Maybe not so much with the game itself as it’s a rather basic puzzle game at this point in development, but with the way the developers made me think about how to play the game. I was legitimately confused by how to just play the game and use the contraption on my hands, and to me it felt like a completely new game experience. And that’s all by design. I’m very curious to see what else Tarsier can do with VR in terms of making the player think outside the box (yes, pun intended).
And yes, I did ask about Hunger. They can’t talk about the game just yet, but promise that it’s their main title that’s in production at Tarsier as a smaller team continues work on Statik for the PlayStation VR, which will be their first self-published title.