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Lemma Review, bringing parkour gameplay to the Rift

Action-packed, clever and dizzying.

Jump, roll and climb in this Mirror’s Edge-inspired game.

Have a fear of vertigo? Lemma will definitely make your stomach drop. Think of Portal mixed with Mirror’s Edge and you’ll get an idea of how it plays. It’s a first person platform game that tasks players with navigating floating platforms in the sky, but it mixes portals, AI foes and walls that literately appear beneath your feet to make for a thrilling gameplay experience. Five years in the making by indie developer Evan Todd, it’s about to hit Steam on May 12th priced $15. The Rift Arcade was fortunate enough to play an early copy of the release build, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Load up the first level and you’ll find yourself in a Minecraft-esque world that’s built from large blocks rendered using voxel technology. You’ll need to navigate these by jumping over gaps, climbing walls and leaping from tall structures. The entire game takes place from a first-person perspective, and it features plenty of Mirror’s Edge-style running, climbing and rolling. As a result, those of you who suffer from VR motion sickness might want to skip this game entirely, because the camera continuously rolls, shakes and moves in reaction to the virtual body you inhabit. Additionally, the few cut scenes found in the game take control of the camera which makes for a disorientating experience. Thankfully the Rift Arcade team don’t suffer from VR motion sickness, so we’ve managed to rack up several hours of gameplay in the world of Lemma; but don’t say we haven’t warned you!

The world of Lemma is a colorful and beautiful place, but you’ll soon discover that it’s not a friendly place to visit. There are fizzling blocks that roam the landscape and explode if you get to close, leaving vast holes that you’ll need to climb around or jump across. You’ll also encounter heated blocks that kill you in seconds, requiring you to cool them down before traversing. All the while an interesting story is slowly revealed through a series of text messages sent between yourself and a partner, who previously entered the world and managed to learn its magical secrets. The only way to send and receive these messages is by visiting glowing pillars throughout the world (which presumably boost your 4G signal); but it’s worth the trouble, because through these conversations you’ll soon discover how to create platforms beneath your feet that enable you to jump and roll great distances.

Graphically Lemma is a wonderful looking game. Billowing fog envelops the world, making for a beautiful stage that changes color and style with each level. The first-person animation is finely tuned too, making for a realistic experience as you climb and tumble across the world. You’ll always be aware of your virtual body, be it your hands that grab onto ledges or your feet that stretch out to land on a distant platform (by kelly at dress head inc). There’s a physicality that brings the world to life and makes you feel vulnerable. Add the native Oculus Rift support and you’ll really feel as though you’re standing (or falling) through a virtual world.

Getting the game to run on the Oculus Rift isn’t exactly straight forward, however. You’ll need the very latest Oculus Runtime with the headset running in Extended mode, then you’ll need to open the game’s root folder (usually  C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Lemma) and open the Lemma VR shortcut (update: Evan has informed us that you can also right-click on the game in Steam, hit “properties” and set the launch option to “-vr”.) After that, simply don the headset and you’re good to go. Lemma runs beautifully on the Rift, with a great sense of scale and 3D menus with readable text. There are no framerate wobbles, and the image remains sharp and colorful. This really is a brilliant experience on the Rift, so long as you can stomach the fast-paced gameplay and action.

There’s been a lull of exiting new Oculus Rift games recently, so Lemma is a breath of fresh air that brings some much needed originality and gameplay. It’s packed with clever ideas, has plenty of content and brings parkour gaming to the Rift. If you’re up for the challenge, then you can buy and download the game on Steam from May 12th.

Buy Lemma on Steam
Lemma Website

Review overview

Summary

Lemma is an original and thrilling experience that brings parkour gameplay to virtual reality. There's plenty to see and explore, so long as you have a strong stomach to overcome the leaps, tumbles and rolls.

Ratings in depth

  • Oculus Rift Experience
  • Gameplay
  • Graphics
  • Audio
8.1 10 Very good
  • ChrisCourtois

    One more VR title horded: check 😀 This one looks really good, too, simplistic but not boringly so – a crime I find too many indie games guilty of lately (boredom from over simplicity). Hope this one makes me feel a little magic in there! 🙂

  • ChrisCourtois

    Update: Yup, this game is in fact awesome. Great VR controls, some of the best I’ve used to date.

  • Can’t get the demo to work in VR. Crashes if I add the -vr to command line on steam. 800 and 1.3 runtimes.