Downward Spiral: Prologue is an action adventure game developed and published by 3rd Eye Studios which was released on 31st March 2017 through Steam. Downward Spiral: Prologue is the first instalment of very ambitious Downward Spiral Anthology Series. Every game will have different main characters, story and setting but are knitted together with the unsettling backstory which will open episode after episode.

Narrative

LIFE SUPPORT: OFFLINE. GENERATOR: POWER OFFLINE. ARTIFICIAL GRAVITY: OFFLINE.

The game doesn’t provide you with a lot of backstory, you’re thrown into the prologue blind. The game fades from black and you’re sitting in a chair met with the text from above. This naturally sparks your interest to investigate and find out why systems have been shut down and get them back up and running.

Using this as jumping point, you embark on a fifteen to thirty minute adventure around the space station in zero gravity. As the adventure is relatively short, I won’t go into further detail into what exactly you’ll find as it’s nice to keep some surprises!

Gameplay

Virtual Reality games succeed when you as the player don’t have to think too much on how the baseline mechanics work. Downward Spiral successful meets my expectations of what it would be like to have to traverse at zero gravity.

Naturally your first instinct is to grab hold of the yellow railings and push yourself into your intended direction and it works perfectly. This game doesn’t use the teleporting systems which we are becoming too accustomed to in VR Gaming.

I will admit that for my first playthrough I found myself suffering from motion sickness and while I was floating through corridors and the open environment I found myself having to grab hold of the environment to stop myself moving for a brief moment to eventually push myself back into the direction I needed to move in – again echoing that feeling that this is exactly what I would expect from moving in zero gravity.

You very quickly find other objects which you can toggle through at will and all perform as expected, this includes pistols (very important: you can dual-wield. I might have been pretending to be an overweight dante, in space.) a lightsource and a handheld air compression gun which lets you jet around in different directions.

There are enemies present in the final section of the game however there are only two variants. This is something I hope will be added to in the following episodes of Downward Spiral. Without spoiling too much, these consist of drones and drone spawners.

If you’re anything like me, you will try and pick up absolutely everything that you can. As you’re floating through what appears to be an abandoned space station you find plenty of tools to grab and throw around, this includes a juice box right at the beginning of the game. The beauty of this is that you are able to throw objects without repercussion so unleash that inner psychopath.

Aesthetic

The game is beautifully drawn together appears to embrace the 1970s retro-futuristic style reminiscent in Alien, with its thick monitors and lots of flashy buttons. As you approach the final chamber of the experience, I found myself gasping and staring in awe as I floated throughout the open environment.

Multiplayer

The game did feature a Co-Op and Multiplayer Deathmatch option. I was unable to find anyone to join me in Multiplayer.

I did however wait around for thirty minutes in the Deathmatch option to see if anyone would be brave enough to fight me and unfortunately there were no takers at the time. A nice little addition to this mode is that while you’re waiting enemies will spawn and hunt you down, keeping you occupied .

As you can see from the screenshot, I died a lot…

Equipment

Downward Spiral: Prologue is available for both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Throughout this review I used the HTC Vive in Room-Scale mode. In regards to how this runs on Oculus Rift, unfortunately I’m unable to comment.

I was running the game on the highest quality settings and I’ll be honest, visually the game had blown me away. The experience was stable throughout,  however please keep in mind that I am running an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. I have maintained a steady framerate throughout the majority of my playthrough.

Final Opinion

While I enjoy dipping my toes into VR titles, I find that at the moment we are stuck in a situation where if you don’t use the hardware frequently then it takes longer set up the equipment then it does to actually finish your chosen title, Downward Spiral: Prologue is another title which meets this expectation…

To reiterate what I’ve already said throughout this article. The game itself is stunning and the way the game plays meets your expectation. Every movement you make regardless if you’re just trying to float through space or shoot enemies, these actions are performed effortlessly. The experience was outstanding and left me in awe by the end of it.

However I am left wondering if fifteen to thirty minutes is worth the asking price of £6.99 and that’s where the game ultimately fails. I can imagine that this will be the major deterrent for most players.

5/10

 

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