Resolve a hostage crisis using wits and skill in this tense prototype game for the Oculus Rift.
The terrorist is pacing the plane, and he’s losing patience. He’s surrounded, and desperate to escape. We’re biding time, telling him that an escape plane is on the way, but secretly we’ve ordered a sniper to take aim, while a strike team awaits at the cockpit door. It’s life or death for the hostages depending on our next choice of action…
That’s the tense gameplay on offer in the prototype release for Negotiator VR, released just days ago on Oculus Share and The Rift Arcade Downloads. It’s a work-in-progress release that demonstrates how multiple choices and controllable characters can be used to affect the outcome of a tense situation, and it works brilliantly in virtual reality on the Oculus Rift.
After loading the game you’ll find yourself sitting alone in an empty room. It’s raining outside, while in front of you is a briefcase containing a “vintage” mobile phone. Selecting the phone transports you to an airport terminal, where outside a plane stands on the runway surrounded by SWAT teams and a sniper. From there the game begins as you negotiate with a terrorist holding hostages on-board the plane. To resolve the situation you can choose from multiple conversation dialogues or jump into the roles of either a sniper or SWAT team member.
Depending on the choices you make, there are multiple outcomes for the game. On our first play-through we lost all the hostages and the terrorist, while on the second attempt we successfully ended the situation using a combination of radio communications and sniper fire. This open-ended gameplay works a treat, making each round feel spontaneous and unpredictable, but you’ll need to listen carefully to radio chatter if you’re to understand how characters are reacting to your choices.
Controlling the game is done entirely with your head and the mouse; simply look at an object or piece of text then click the mouse button to activate it. You’ll also need to physically move in your chair to look down the sniper scope, which is a fantastic use of the Oculus Rift’s position-tracking feature; just make sure you have plenty of space to lean and rotate your head. This combination of head movements and positioning feels intuitive and natural, and it helps you to immerse yourself within the tense atmosphere of the game. Graphically there’s a nice, moody atmosphere to the game, but texture work could be improved, while the sniper/telescope lens is low resolution. Some of the voice work also needs a spot of polish, but that’s a niggle we’re happy to overlook.
There’s a lot of promise on show in this prototype release, and the team are offering more to come with a game that spans several decades. This prototype release might be over before you know it, but it’s tense exciting stuff, and we can’t wait to see more.