It has certainly been a while since we physically met with VR developers at trade shows to see what they’re working on, but we recently got to playtest Tentacular, due out later this year. Here’s our preview.
What we know
Developed by Firepunchd Games and published through Devolver Digital, Tentacular is a unique game experience that was designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality. In it, you play the role of a giant Kaiju, only this time you’re not hell-bent on destruction – which is probably the frame of reference that most people have.
Instead, you play as an immense squid who happily lives alongside the human population of a small island, helping them out with little chores using his tentacles and enormous strength. Structured as a narrative experience of sorts, you’ll be faced with over 50 objectives and small puzzles to complete, many of which involve creative uses of physics. Using your tentacles and suckers, you can pick up objects and people as well as manipulate the environment Tentacular is scheduled for release in 2022 on both PC-based headsets and the Quest.
What we saw
We got to go hands-on with a pre-release version of Tentacular for the Oculus/Meta Quest, so we went entirely wireless for our play session.
What we thought
In addition to its more narrative-driven campaign Tentacular also features sandbox elements. This part of the game grows as you unlock more stuff, but also translates back to the main mode in that it can feel a bit like a collection of random but fun challenges. Despite its seemingly simple premise, there’s a lot of diversity in what Tentacular throws at you, which was a pleasant surprise.
What helps the game in this sense is that the world of Tentacular is inhabited with a wide range of NPCs that you can interact with, and who all seem to have their own unique character and relationship towards you. As you’re trying to help rather than destroy, this creates an immersive bond between you and your humans, and helps you feel like a massive squid with unique powers that can help others.
It would certainly be fun if the final game also included a few missions or a mode where you get to wreak havoc though, which would certainly be a blast as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with the relationship you have with the citizens of La Kalma. Even if it’s just a minigame, we’d love to thrown little temper tantrums with our oversized friend.
With its diverse task list, Tentacular can cause players to momentarily feel lost as to how to progress further, but a built-in hint system should alleviate any frustrations that might stem from this. As with early VR games like Job Simulator, this looks like it could shape up to be a great way of performing random tasks in VR while having a lot of fun.