This year has been a great one so far for virtual reality. We had the UploadVR conference at E3, highlighting some of the best the platform has to offer and now, Gamescom has brought us the VR Showcase event, giving great titles and studios a spot in the limelight. Whilst the showcase has been great at offering an insight into some of VR's best, much more is on offer, which is why we've pulled together our five favourite virtual reality experiences from Gamescom 2019.
Paper Beast - Pixel Reef
It's a peculiar thing to perceive the entirely unnatural as natural. The feeling of confusion muddled with awe is a daunting prospect, but it is wonderful, much like the world of Paper Beast. Developed by French studio Pixel Reef, this title is about an ecosystem forming, deep within the boundless memory of a data server, where decades of lost code and misplaced algorithms have come together to form something unnaturally natural.
We got to take a look at the title ourselves, in a playable demo, guided by renowned developer Éric Chahi. Starting in a closed red tent we were instructed to open the curtains, giving us the first glimpse of this strange arid world. In the distance, a creature was making its way towards us slowly, an organism that would soon become our guide as we journeyed throughout the world. A few minutes and a confusing interaction later, we were on our way, heading out into the peculiar world of Paper Beast.
As we travelled across the world, the more situations we came into contact with. From feeding strange plants and other native creatures to witnessing the development of a food chain through a predator/prey interaction - it was as if we were taking a digital safari through a completely new world. A few more minutes of journeying came to pass, and we found ourselves at a dead-end, deep in a valley, where a large sinkhole was forming spitting out heaps of what we assumed to be data, which for all we know could be a glitch in the ecological system. The creature from the beginning led us to a cave and sealed us away to take cover from the now forming storm, thus ending the demo.
If there was one feeling we took away from our time in Paper Beast, it would have to be bewilderment. The complexity of the creatures, mixed with their natural reactions, made for an experience quite unlike any other. You can look to explore the world of Paper Beast yourself next year, when it launches on PSVR.
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets - Fast Travel Games
When living in such a high-stress world, where we constantly have something to worry about, having a relaxing environment to fall into can offer a much-needed moment of respite. The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets, developed by Fast Travel Games, is exactly this. Set across a charming series of islands, this title requires the player to follow grandpa's soothing directions, solving minor problems, and discovering lost pets along the way. This experience is all about reconnecting with your childhood, something we found delightfully elegant during our time with it.
In the demo we played, we were tasked with unravelling the mysteries of one of the few available islands. By completing strange tasks and by interacting with parts of the world, we figured out little hints as to where pets may be hiding. For example, one of the jobs we had to complete involved brewing a hot beverage, which was a little more complex than one might imagine. To start with, we had to fill the cup up with hot water, involving us lighting a candle on the other side of the island and then heating a kettle on top of it. After this, we shook some leaves off a brown tree into the now filled cup in order to give it flavour, before finishing the brew. Completing the task in its entirety showed us the location of one of the many pets throughout this particular world.
The full extent of The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets involves only a few islands but from what we played, we can say that it will be one of the most relaxing, wholesome VR experiences you could ask for. The full title will be releasing later this year on all VR platforms.