In Stormland, you are an android gardener who traveled to an exotic alien planet to help settle it. But when you get there, you find that the malevolent organization called the Tempest followed you. It killed the settlers and broke your body. Decades later, you reboot. Now you must go through a settlement in the clouds and save the remnants from the Tempest, who have inhabited a settlement in the sky, a place dubbed the Stormland.
This fourth VR game from Insomniac Studios — whose recent Marvel’s Spider-Man is a smash success for the PlayStation 4 — is an interesting sci-fi story that immerses you thanks to the Oculus Rift and Touch. I saw it at an Oculus preview event last week, and it certainly seemed like a bigger commitment from Insomniac and Oculus in a big VR title.
In past Insomniac VR games like The Unspoken, your movement was limited. But with the single-player Stormland, you can basically move around as you wish. You can run, blast rocks to collect resources, and climb up structures. As you shinny up, you move your arms up in the air and make grabbing motions with the Oculus Touch hand controls. As you move, you pull your avatar, or virtual character, up in VR.
You can bound up cliffs, glide across chasms, and fly through a slipstream at a high velocity, said lead designer Mike Daly in an interview with GamesBeat. I did all of that in my demo, and I didn’t really suffer from motion sickness.
“We personally felt the strong urge to play a really liberating, open traversal game,” Daly said. “We also got the sense that’s what a lot of other people wanted too, people waiting to dive into VR, the curious people on the periphery.”
I had to fight Tempest mech soldiers, tossing grenades at them, shooting them, or hitting them with melee attacks. The game is coming out in 2019 on the Oculus Rift and Touch.
But the rest of the time, I was collecting resources and looking to unravel mysteries. The game has secrets about alien technologies and other relics from the past. All of it is in the name of defeating the Tempest.
I enjoyed the freedom of movement in the game, though the combat was a little less satisfying, as the enemies didn’t seem that smart. But I applaud Insomniac’s will to persevere with VR and learn from its previous games.