Described as a “spiritual cousin” to smartphone smash Monument Valley, VR experience Land’s End is targeting a much smaller audience. The game has you awakening a lost civilisation, but it will only be playable on a very specific hardware combination.
Happily, all of what we loved about Monument Valley is here in Land’s End – beautiful artwork, creative design work, and a vibrant, interactive environment. It is a meditative, relaxing experience (rather like Monument Valley), designed to be enjoyed in short bursts of maybe 10, 20 minutes. The developers describe it as an immersive experience with “game-like elements”, inspired by real-world geography including Stonehenge, the coastlines of the Hebrides and remote parts of Iceland.
Designer Ken Wong tells TechCrunch that he thinks of it as being like “going through an art gallery or a museum”:
It’s something that everybody can play — not just experienced gamers. But it’s custom designed for VR. In the way that Monument Valley was designed to be the best touchscreen experience possible, we wanted to make the best VR experience. So we spent a long time learning about VR, and researching, and finding out what VR is not good at and what its strengths are.
Land’s End gets around the question of “how to navigate in VR” in an innovative way. Rather than implementing a physical controller that can drag you out of the virtual world, the team at ustwo have made it so you – literally – follow your nose. Simply look at a point of light, and you’ll start to move towards it. This is the same mechanic you use to move giant blocks of virtual stone, which reminds us of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
Developer Peter Pashley continues:
We’re not looking to get people having huge adrenaline rushes or getting really confused or held up by puzzles. We’re looking to create an experience where they have this — I’m not sure relaxation is quite the right way of putting it but an immersion in this world that feels exciting and relaxing at the same time.
While Monument Valley is now available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, working on most major handsets, Land’s End will – for the time being – only be available to gamers with both a Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone and a Gear VR headset.
If you meet the criteria, you’ll be able to grab Land’s End from October 30, through the Oculus Home portal, and while – obviously – we’re hoping it heads to additional hardware, we’re not holding our breath.