Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming
Blockbuster Gaming – Symphony of the Machine
PSVR, HTC Vive
Virtual Reality is a platform that is slowly building in its prominence. Since the launch of Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and the HTC Vive, there is steadily more press about upcoming games, concepts and other ideas that live outside the gaming realm. As far as the gaming space is concerned, one could make an argument that following launch, the list of profile upcoming VR titles has dwindled significantly. Stirfire Studios aims to change that perception with the release of Symphony of the Machine for PSVR and Vive though, a puzzle game with incredible charm and clever brainteasers.
Symphony of the Machine kicks off with a fairly vague, momentary tutorial that briefly outlined how to use my Playstation Move controller, before I waltz over to a tower, and enter a lift that raises me to the towers upper level. When I arrived, I found myself greeted by a floating robot, a laser beam which is reaching skyward, and a range of stones with different symbols etched into them. Your job is soon outlined to you by the little robot – you need to complete a range of puzzles that alter the weather and will consequently bring life to a range of different types of vegetation.
To achieve this mission, the robot will continually deliver you a range of objects, from reflective surfaces to splitters that allow you to bounce light from the laser to the stone symbols which then manipulate the weather. Initially, the standard laser, when it hits the stones will create wind, rain, sun or cloud, but in time you’ll be gifted items that focus the strength of beam and can create intense heat, snow and more. For each round of puzzles, the robot will bring you a flower pot and a seed, by creating the weather combination that’s been outlined to you the seed will begin to grow until it eventually erupts into colourful beauty. It’s not as easy as using the splitters and mirrors to reflect the light around as you see fit however; with each stone you hit, a barrier appears, and this could potentially obstruct the line of a laser that you simultaneously have pointed at another stone. Clever manipulation of your resources will then be required to ensure you hit all the necessary panels to create the required climate for plant growth.
The serene, calming environment suddenly becomes quite heated, tense and frustrating as these barriers begin to obstruct multiple lasers and the puzzles become much more difficult. Compounding the frustration further is the game and the technology itself. As with any of the current VR platforms, the player has a limited range of space to play in, but Symphony of the Machine continually teased me with slightly out of reach objects. The robot who brings you pots, seeds and items, seems to require a certain distance between you and it for you to reach out and grab what it holds, but if you’re light on for room around you, then you need to stretch somewhat. It is at this point that the robot backs away from you; you follow and then, of course, you’re scolded by your system for leaving the play space. I constantly felt as though I was wrestling with the game, not because there were exploits or because I was doing the wrong thing, but because the game in this one facet, wasn’t polished enough.
While the puzzles are clever and engaging, and the world bright, colourful, beautiful and serene, Symphony of the Machine is constantly hampered by minor gripes that at times make it feel like a chore to play – not to mention its brief 90minute duration. There are some great ideas, and experiments that have all been pulled off in Symphony of the Machine, and with a little more time in the oven to cook, this could very well have been one of the premiere experiences on the platform. The foundations are there though, so perhaps a sequel can expand on the idea, and knock off the rougher edges.