As time goes on, more and more indie devs are learning that one of the best ways to make their game successful is to turn a simple concept into a polished, “short and sweet” IP. Many recently successful titles have been straightforward and clean, forming a presentation style to accompany the addicting game mechanics, such as wilderness survival in The Long Dark, or the arcade style “one hit and you’re dead” Devil Daggers. Alpha Wave’s Euclidean emulates this development concept well, with its On-The-Rails movement and simple objective “avoid obstacles and creatures, the player is doomed to sink evermore into a geometric nightmare.
Essentially, the player is constantly falling through veil after veil outside our own universe, dodging the denizens of the deep in a zone visually represented by an Abyssopelagic ocean, the only light source a pulsing bio-luminescence at its heart. The game was developed with the Oculus Rift as its target port, so playing with the archaic computer monitor made this visceral experience a little less so.
I have to admit, it took me a while to figure out how to start the game. I actually gave up the first time because the level select menu didn’t allow me to choose anything. One thing that I need to point out about Euclidean is that the entire game is first person, even the menus. This is part of the VR experience and allows players to feel like they’re in the game even when thumbing through menus and options. User interface modules are scripted to always face the camera, so they’ll hover in 3D space and swivel about the yaw, pitch and roll to face you.
The entire “menu screen” is a level atop a cliff beneath the moon. Staring at the moon long enough with the camera will begin the game, however there’s no indicator other than noticing that the moon is getting closer when it reads the camera trace. I love when games don’t hold your hand, but when it stops you from playing the game, I draw the line. Including an audio cue or bloom when the player highlights the moon could help so no one gets lost, and the integrity of the intended game atmosphere isn’t compromised.
Upon dropping in, the solace of the clifftops fades away and you are no longer alone. The only voice humming through your head will tell you that you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be, and you’re better off dead off. It seems even more foreboding now that you have someone who sounds like Sovereign from Mass Effect reminding you that you screwed up and you should just let the jellyfish kill you. Don’t listen to him, just keep falling. Try not to touch the ruins, debris, claw worms, pyramid jellies, blocky leviathans…. Actually don’t touch anything or you die.
Everything may look pretty with their emissive and fresnel shader effects but one touch brings the embrace of death, and possibly a message from the monster that killed you saying “stay away” or “hahahahaha”. There’s nothing funny about falling through the abyss clenching your cheeks every time you hear the whooshing of a sea urchin made of kindergarten blocks getting closer. Aside from WASD movement that nudges the player out of harms way, there is one other technique at your disposal. Pressing “E” will temporarily allow you to phase through creatures, and requires a cooldown before you can use it again. This only works for creatures, don’t try to phase through environment props because that will get you killed (the debris probably laughs at you too when you die).
Euclidean is based around the VR experience, and playing without the Oculus Rift is something I wouldn’t recommend, because the game just seems like a repetitive hoop jump and all you’re left with is appreciating the art style while constantly sinking until you hit the core and get eaten by lightning-filled caviar that takes you to the next phase. Aside from the well-established art style, the flow of the game is smoothed over through a solid UI web and great system performance.
This solid title leans toward the experience rather than the gameplay which leaves a bit to be desired when playing without the Oculus Rift. This makes it a bit odd to rate, so without the VR experience I give Euclidean a 5/10 for great sound, flow and atmosphere. Euclidean is decorated with a slew of effects that keep it from feeling like a typical computer game with window modules and run-of-the-mill menu selection methods. Alpha Wave is a studio who knows how to create a well-constructed game atmosphere, and targeting the Oculus Rift is a well-placed objective, as they are definitely suited to this new era of game development. After getting the VR development down, I feel that studios will use that experience to lay the groundwork for more immersive and complex gameplay mechanics in the future.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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