Virtual Reality has brought opportunity to gaming throughout its lifetime. Alongside the increase in immersion, various genres, some of which are considered to be losing their popularity, have been able to find a new purpose. Games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood have innovated on-rails shooting, To the Top brought a greater style and emphasis to platforming, and many others have managed to push the capabilities for the benefits of the genres they chose to follow. 18 Floors aim to weave mysterious storytelling with a heavy emphasis on puzzle-solving to provide a VR experience that is both original and engaging.
After completing the tutorial, players are taken, via a lift, to a mysterious building that seems to only exist through time and space. The 18 floors in the building each hold a number of puzzles that must be solved so that the lift can be activated and take the player to the next floor. As players progress, more of the game’s overarching narrative and mystery are uncovered and provide an amplified motivation to push forward.
The game uses a wide variety of different puzzles in each room and this works to its benefit. The majority of the puzzles have a satisfying level of complexity to them and trying to understand how to solve each of them is the gameplay’s strongest aspect. Some puzzles are so complex even, that I felt severely lost on how to complete it, but like everything else, it all clicks once you finally understand how they work. Each floor has a distinct difference in appearance that is used to increase the game’s variety. Some of these rooms consist of just one square room, while others take place in the long coaches of a train, with rooms situated on each side. Each of these individual levels are interesting to explore and make the game easy to indulge in, especially with the puzzles spread throughout them. They help greatly in keeping the game from reusing areas and further increase the depth and intrigue of its mysterious nature.
The game’s atmosphere is claustrophobic and often unsettling. As you are left on your own in each room and try to solve each of the puzzles, you will hear haunting sounds from all around that can set you on edge, and the different types of objects the player must interact with add to the intense atmosphere. The games graphical fidelity is also reasonably strong, with each room displaying a solid level of detail, with the exception of a few distractions such as cockroaches passing through a sheet of paper when you pick it up.
The first major annoyance with the game comes from its control system and movement, as players are required to use two motion controllers to pick up and examine items in every room. It’s easy to expect a few inconsistencies, as these errors have existed with countless titles on the platform, but 18 floors manage to go beyond these problems by providing a control system that is extremely cumbersome and frustrating. Simple tasks like opening drawers, pressing buttons, and picking up objects quickly become a pain as the controllers very often fail to attach themselves to them, even when the right buttons are held at the same time, meaning you will be forced to attempt these actions multiple times before the action can finally be executed. This is an issue that takes quite a lot of the fun out of the game as you are constantly fighting with the controls themselves, just so you can get to enjoy the gameplay.
Screenshots such as the one shown below, display human hands in place of the motion controllers. This visual feature could have also helped with providing a stronger sense of control over the game’s mechanics and control system, yet whether through issues during development or technical issues, the hands never seem to appear, and hinder the overall satisfaction of seemingly performing actions with human fingers. The control issues could have also benefited if the game provided an efficient set of options for the perspective of how the game is played. Throughout the game, players are required to stand up in order to view the game world at the height of an average human. The inclusion of this feature is understandable and it initially feels natural to stand up in the game, but the slow pace of the game gradually makes standing tiring. If players want to sit down, they will shrink in size inside the game, which obscures much of the game and harms what is an otherwise interesting and pleasantly mysterious world. To prevent this, the game could have also included an option that allowed players to play the game either from standing or sitting down and staying at the same height throughout the game.
One final annoyance in the control system is movement, which adopts the infamous point-and-click style. Here players must hold a button from the motion controllers in the direction they want to move to and must then let go to move to that location. It’s generally easy to get used to but it initially comes off as rather distracting and players will very often find themselves fighting over the positions their character finds themselves in. It’s always possible to land somewhere in the room that is right on top of the place where the puzzles are or from an inconvenient position, meaning players will often find themselves scrambling over the floor to try to get into a good enough position.
18 Floors is an intriguing title that boasts well-crafted puzzles and an interesting world to get lost in, all with a deep sense of claustrophobia that sets players on edge. The game is held back by cumbersome controls and a lack of mechanics that would have made the experience, physically, more comfortable for players. However, if you are a fan of solving a series of some of the most complicated puzzles on the market, 18 Floors should be the game for you.
REVIEW CODE: A PS4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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