In the mix of all the high action and fast moving video games out there, it is time to take a break and slow things down with Arca’s Path. The latest VR title to hit our PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift here from Dream Reality Interactive. It started out as one of the smaller titles I saw at video game conventions in the past and now it has grown into a full-fledged release. Mix that in with some of the more serene visuals, music, and mechanics, it looks like Arca’s Path could be the break some of us need out there. If that sounds like something you need in your life then sit back and get ready to see if it could fill that void. Here is our review of this interesting little VR title.
Here we take on the role of a young girl who finds a new and strange world through the use of some special goggles. Things look peaceful at first but soon become much darker in her simulated world to the point that she must find a way to head back home. All in some dystopian looking future where something much worse has had to have happened. Thankfully, along the way she met a nanny-bot that looks like she is there to help…
To start things off, if the story section above does not make much sense or feels incomplete, that is because it is not presented in the best way n Arca’s Path. Most of the above is cobbled together from past developer diaries and what little else can be figured out through the animatics in the game. There is just very little to understand when it comes to this side of things that it could have either been done much better or left out completely. I get that they wanted to give us a better reason to be playing Arca’s Path besides the basics of the game, but it had to be the most confusing aspect of the game during my play. Even a little bit more narration or description could have fixed this, but it was something that needed to be skipped in my playthrough.
Next up on the bigger drags for Arca’s Path, and weirdly the last, is the aim to make a game that is supposed to be peaceful and relaxing that actually induced a whole lot of stress along the way. Had Rebellion not marketing the game in this way I would have been able to overlook it, but it is what it is. Sure, it is a little less than your high-end horror or shooter games, but using your head direction to guide a rolling ball around a map can get very stressful once all of the walls are turned off. Also having the need to look around each to find hidden crystals to unlock more of the game led to me taking paths that put me in the same frame of mind more than calmly looking from location to location to progress in Arca’s Path. It was not a calm experience but that of another kind of video game that I cannot seem to place down for now.
First up here, it is the simplicity of Arca’s Path and how Dream Reality Interactive tackled that caught my eye and made me interested. It seems like something that would normally work better with normal controls but looking around in VR to dictate where the ball should roll felt completely right and something VR needed. I make the joke before that Arca’s Path is like Marble Madness, it is, but the control scheme here felt more "right" than the other title did so long ago. Mixed in the fact that it is so perfectly executed that each minor and major directional look did what it needed to do, I feel like the older title ruined me a bit for this one. This is how it should have been all along and it only took this long for someone and the technology to get there.
Moving along those lines, it also felt like the levels and level progression in Arca’s Path were crafted almost too perfectly to blend in. Each area is fun, even with the added stress, to navigate around and explore and the difficulty of the paths ramps up in just the right degree each time. I remember playing the early demo and thinking the game was a little too easy having rails everywhere to stop you from falling off the edges. In the full version of Arca’s Path here, it starts out that way, but just when you feel you need a bit of a raised difficulty, more of the rails go away and the extra challenges on the map open up. One that I fell in love with was one where you needed to jump a ramp but also time the speed increases to make sure you did not just bounce over the edge. It starts to make you think and not just mentally push a ball from one point to another.
Lastly, I will have to say that inclusion of timed trials in Arca’s Path was something unexpected but made the game just that much more enjoyable. Going through the first time you may think that you know the best route and path to go about it all. This not only gave replay value to each map of Arca’s Path, but also make you want to find each little physics trick you can use and new shortcuts to get through it all quickly. Almost to the point that I started to play new maps in this way before I had to slow myself down to truly enjoy it all. Needless to say, this is more than a one and done experience and that is something that is generally lacking the VR scope of gaming. I know I am ready to dive back in as soon as I can.
I had high hopes for Arca’s Path when I first experienced it and have been keeping an eye on it ever since. I am glad to see that these hopes were mostly met and I was given an amazing experience that I can enjoy multiple times over. Sure, I would have enjoyed a fleshed out story I could better understand or the nice peaceful experience that was marketed, but none of that changes the fact that this is an extremely fun game. It is easy to lose a few hours in it and take a break from the other higher stress titles out there. If you have the setup to actually play Arca’s Path then I fully recommend adding it to your list of VR games to own.
I give Arca’s Path 14 Time Trial Crystals on the Time Trial Crystal scale.
Arca’s Path — Launch Trailer
Arca’s Path was developed by Dream Reality Interactive and published by Rebellion for the PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift on December 4th, 2018. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.