Eclipse – Edge of Light, by White Elk Studios, just got a Playstation VR release – time to check out this title that we had heard a lot about but never had a chance to play before.
Part of the reason Eclipse was a new experience for us on the Playstation VR is that the game was originally released for Google’s Daydream platform as an exclusive. And as with Google’s current push for Stadia, I was never aware of anyone actually using the platform. At the same time, I did hear about some of the games that were developed specifically for Daydream, and Eclipse was one of them. In fact, I read quite a bit about how users actually called it the best Daydream game out there – so from that perspective alone it’s great that we’re finally getting to go hands on with it.
It’s worth pointing out that, in terms of exclusivity, the game’s also dropped its VR requirement, and can be played with a PS4 without the need for a headset as well. We didn’t try this, but those interested in a “VR” title before investing in a headset might want to take notice.
The central premise of Eclipse is a familiar sci-fi tale where you crash land on an alien planet, only to find out there once was a civilization there. You quickly discover an orb-like relic referred to as the Artifact, which is a key to interacting with the environment around you. Doing so, you start on a journey where you explore this new world, solve puzzles to move past obstacles and slowly but surely uncover what fate befell those who came before you.
The Artifact can be thrown to interact with the environment, but the game surprisingly enough does not include support for the Playstation Move controllers. Instead, you use a DualShock to allow for a teleportation-free movement scheme that supports free locomotion (though the default option is to use click-turning). It’s certainly a trade-off you have to make on account of hardware limitations, but I would have been happy to try out the Move with an option for click turning just to make my interactions with the game world feel more immerse. Since White Elk has already implemented a wide array of comfort and control options, perhaps this will be added in the future.
Puzzles are mostly handled by using the Artifact as well, as it allows you to move objects across scenes and thus activate switches or climb ledges you can’t otherwise reach. These puzzles definitely work better in VR, because otherwise I’d probably be compelled to compare the game to a superior puzzler like Q.U.B.E. 2 or The Sojourn – while with the VR realm this is a standout title where it doesn’t hurt that most puzzles are fairly casual in nature.
Completing the game doesn’t take more than two or three hours, which I suppose isn’t bad when you consider the game’s mobile origins. There’s a nice sense of progression during that time though, with new abilities constantly being unlocked and put to good use as you uncover more about what happened by scanning objects you come across. To find some of these you’ll have to maneuver around and explore your surroundings a bit, which is fun in the sense that it gives you a good idea of the fact that gravity actually works different in this place. Rather than plummeting to your death when your jetpack runs out, you slowly float down – your jetpack recharging as you hit the ground again.
Eclipse is a good little VR title that demonstrates exactly why it received those accolades back in the Daydream days. There’s an engaging narrative, a world that’s fun to navigate in VR and well designed (though not always challenging) puzzles. At the same time, the game also shows its age and origins, originally being from the early days of VR gaming and being powered by mobile technology. The PSVR version has received a visual upgrade, but don’t expect a cutting edge audiovisual experience (though the soundtrack is nice) – instead, see this as a ‘director’s cut’ release of one of the best Daydream experiences ever made.