GDC 2019: Hands-on: 'Shadow Point' is a Clever Room-scale Puzzler Narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart
Coatsink, the studio known for VR games Augmented Empire (2018) and the Esper series, unveiled a new puzzle game at GDC 2019 this week that’s slated to be a day-one launch title for Oculus Quest. We got a chance to go hands-on with the room-scale puzzler, and it’s poised to be another clever and well-realized entry from the studio.
In some ways Shadow Point is a step in a new direction for Coatsink, which previously created purely seated VR titles for Oculus 3DOF mobile headsets as well as PC VR headsets. Slated to launch simultaneously on Oculus Quest and Rift sometime this spring, Shadows Point appears to be just as smart as the studio’s previous titles, although it now boasts room-scale interactions and locomotion that ought to get you up and scratching your head in all its 6DOF glory.
First starting with a movement tutorial, which includes free locomotion, snap-turn, and teleportation, I was quickly thrust into the thick of the game, which included some not-so-simple puzzles. Oh, and it’s entirely narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Picard), which for me is admittedly more than just icing on the cake.
The game is decidedly low-poly to fit snugly inside Quest’s modest compute overhead, but charmingly textured and lit nonetheless; it fits in visually with titles like the Windlands series for example.
The demo took me through several indoor and outdoor spaces, which were linked by portals that would emanate from a wall once a key puzzle was solved, giving me short glimpses of a girl as I followed her through what I can only assume to be a world independent from time and space.
I can’t say much about the mysterious world of Shadow Point just yet considering my short time with Shadow Point, although to my eye it seems borrow some of the fantastical and cozy design language of Studio Ghibli. As I neared the end of the demo, it appeared my ethereal glimpses of the girl were more like a fractured memory. Stepping into a portal into a workshop, I found the girl again, although this time she was slightly older and was talking about how she had figured out the equation of how we could intersect in time and space again to meet back up.
As for the puzzles, Shadow Point’s main puzzle mechanic is built on a pretty basic starting principle: you find items lying around that you then hold up in front of projectors to unlock doors to move forward. The idea is to line up the shadow of the object perfectly so it matches with its corresponding profile, be it on the wall, a picture frame, or doorway. For example: I came across a lantern casting a spotlight on a doorway. The doorway’s decorative pattern contains an empty circle. Taking a ball out of my inventory, I hold it up just right, matching it to the door’s decorative pattern and thereby unlocking the door. Items get more complex, but I don’t suspect the game will be entirely dedicated to what you might pessimistically call a glorified ’round peg in a round hole’ game.
The world of Shadow Point is mysterious, and it only gets more and more so the further I progressed. While I only spent a good 20-ish minutes playing through the demo, I got quick taste of the sort of difficulty that would eventually lay before me in what’s promised to be a multi-hour game. As the girl disappeared, I walked into the adjoining room to find a mirror. There, the lofty baritone voice of Captain Picard told me that the mirror wasn’t all that it seemed, as it reflected a different shape all together from the astrolabe currently in my hand.
There’s plenty more puzzle mechanics I didn’t get to experience first-hand too, as I got a sneak peek of the game’s trailer before I started the demo proper. Shadow Point also seems to give the player a sort of magical hand held looking-glass that changes the appearance of objects. The trailer is due to launch sometime soon, although the studio also provided a quick clip to demonstrate just what I mean.
Personally speaking, Shadow Point’s demo was intriguing in all the right ways. Even though I had a limited time to dive in, I felt like it was quick to tutorialize the basics while essentially giving me the space to figure out the puzzles for myself. If Coatsink is confident enough to leave me to my own devices without the constant chirping of a companion telling me what to do (Stewart only explained basic bits of the story and puzzles as I went along), then we may have truly something interesting on our hands.
Again, it’s due out sometime this Spring when Quest launches. When that will be, we just don’t know yet, but Facebook’s next big opportunity to take the stage will be at their F8 developer conference, which is going on April 30th – May 1st in San Jose, California. That’s just some healthy speculation for you.
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