iO isn’t a place that you’d necessarily want to visit.
It’s the fourth largest moon in the Solar System, orbiting Jupiter every 42.5 hours and covered in volcanoes that spew fire and rage into its sulphur dioxide atmosphere. It might be an inhospitable place, but that’s exactly where players are going when they don their Rift headsets and load up iO moon.
I’ve been lucky enough to play the latest build of the game, which includes new shaders and exterior art. As soon as the alpha build loads up it’s clear this atmospheric, immersive FPS game pushes the Unity engine to its limits. Look up into the heavens and you’ll see hundreds of asteroids that float and rotate in outer space. Look a bit closer at the surface of Io and you’ll see smoke and particles that rush and fall through the environment, vividly rich textures that shine and gleam and mysterious alien life forms that float and wriggle past the player. It’s a richly detailed world that’s ripe for exploration, which is what iO moon is all about.
This isn’t an action-packed game. Instead, players need to explore Io in order to survive. They begin the game with just a torch, flare gun and camera for taking photos. From there they must listen to an AI voice that guides them across and under the surface of Io. Check out my walkthrough video at the top of this page to get an idea of how the game looks and plays. It’s short, but oh-so sweet.
Right now the development team at Headtrip Games is still deep in development, which means the game is far from finished, but I managed to ask them a few questions to find out more about its story and gameplay features:
Is iO moon story driven? If so can you tell us anything about its storyline?
There is a light story, but it’s more of an experience. Here is a bit I can share… “…everything changed the day of “first discovery”, the discovery of life on Europa. We have since spread out among the planets and moons. You are an exobiologist, sent to Jupiter’s moon “Io” to find and catalog life. You will be auto navigated to a smooth ice covered plateau. ….There is an unexpected crash, and you must find your way through the planet to a rendezvous point on the far side of Io. Survive and experience…”
Can you reveal any gameplay features?
So far, you will need to pay attention to basic survival needs like oxygen, temperature and safety, you need to watch your step in spots or you could fall into some oily cave water, or off a ledge… This is not a horror experience, its a journey where the tension is created by what you see and don’t see. Try turning out your flashlight in a pitch black alien tunnel, in VR its crazy creepy! It is the sense of wonder and curiosity that I’m trying to draw on. You are not there to kill or destroy, you are there to learn and experience. It is the same feeling you get as you walk through a haunted house or dark ride. You also have a camera to take screnshots along the way.
Audio appears to play a massive part of the game, how are you incorporating sound effects, music and narration?
I agree completely, it’s a massive part. I’m trying to weave it into the visuals as well as the immersion. Some moments are just sound beds, but some are full music tracks. I plan to use binaural 3D audio, but even the default 3D audio is great. A good example is a worm crawling in a cave, you can hear its feet crunching along as it comes near… it’s creepy stuff. Audio is absolutely one of my favorite aspects of development, I’m working on putting together a really interesting soundtrack.
Do you have any plans to include DK2 features such as positional tracking?
Yes, I cant wait to try to add all the little things like little lifeforms in nooks or being able to peer over the edge of a cliff or rock. I’m also looking forward to trying some locomotion stuff, like leaning forward to move forward. I can’t believe how awesome the Rift is, I’m super happy with it. I cannot wait for the OLED screen, with real black levels and nice and thick saturation. That’s going to be amazing.
When will gamers get a chance to try the game? Is there a road plan for up-coming releases etc?
I honestly can’t say when I could release a demo. I’m already running well in HD and will want to spend some good time getting it running on DK2 (sorry DK1, I still love you buddy). I’ll have more details someday, sorry I know that’s lame. Until then its updates on iomoonvr.com and @HeadTripGames – I would like to get peoples feedback! It really makes a difference.
Is there anything else you’d like to reveal?
Not really, I just want to thank everyone for the amazing feedback iO moon has been getting. Its amazing having this community to bounce new work off of, I’m used to being in a walled garden. I have allot of plans for iO moon… action sequences, really wild environments, more glowy stuff… Thanks for letting me share it!