The Porto indie studio, Ground Control Studios, just announced the release of Return Zero VR on Steam plus a major update on all platforms.
According to the studio, the game was slated to be released in August, but was delayed due to, among other reasons, bureaucratic/clerical issues. September saw the project completed and finally made available on all platforms. This PC version is compatible with Oculus (DK2, CV1), HTC Vive support will be made available on the next update.
The game is a tunnel-racer that takes place on a Tron-like world, being the player in control of a very fast spaceship. The goal of the game is to be fast enough to reverse time and beat all the races in all the available worlds.
During the month of August, a major update to the game was accomplished, which brought among other tweaks, procedural racetracks and the ability for the tracks to change and shift during a race. This addition will bring a new difficulty/challenge layer, and added replay value for the players. This update is already available for download on all platforms.
The Steam version offers online leaderboard integration, allowing players to compete both for the best track times and global game completion times.
The VR component of the game has the player controlling the ship using only his gaze, thus creating an interesting experience concerning interaction. Rui Guedes, Lead Game-designer added
We felt that having game-pads or other non-motion controllers is a complete immersion-breaker in VR, so we wanted to try something different. Using gaze control is also perfect for mobile, since it’s a more convenient interaction method.
Another key-point for the game was comfort while playing, which had the studio doing extensive research and testing to create a good balance between excitement and an enjoyable experience. “VR is a daunting concept to many people, present them a game so fast and so exciting-looking like Return Zero, and they will instantly assume that it is going to make them sick. Nothing could be further from the real experience. We have tested and tweaked that bit for a very long time, it is very hard for someone to feel sick playing Return Zero VR. It is one of the most comfortable VR experiences we’ve ever produced.” Says João Martins, lead-developer.
Currently Ground Control Studios expects to add more features and more elements to the game. “It all boils down to adoption. Return Zero VR is a complete game and it is being released as such, but that does not mean we cannot change a couple of details to make it better and more enjoyable to players. There’s always something you can improve on a game such as this. How deep those improvements will go only depends on player response and feedback.” Says Rui Guedes, Lead Game-Designer.
The developer was also caught by surprise when they discovered they are the first Portuguese studio to commercially release a VR game, thus adding up to their previous achievement of being the first Portuguese studio to release VR content on Samsung GearVR. Their VR experience leads them to partner with the well known Web Summit to develop some VR content for the big event coming up this November in Lisbon. If you are planning to attend, you’ll probably stumble on their content.