Pixel Rift really took us by surprise.
It’s a series of games within a game, presented in a time-travelling manner that spans the 1970s to the late 1990s; but that description doesn’t do it any favours, because it’s much more than that. It literately merges retro games with reality. We loaded up the demo that was recently released on The Rift Arcade Market, and found it to be surreal, charming, and at the time of writing rather rough around the edges. But that’s okay, because there’s so much potential here we’re itching to play more.
When first loaded you’ll find yourself sitting on the floor of a bedroom. You’re a baby, surrounded by vintage consoles and an old CRT TV that’s showing an advert for the fictional game Pixel Rift. Suddenly the advert explodes out of the TV and envelopes the room, sending sparks and visual effects into every corner. It’s the first clue that there’s more to this game than meets the eye. The vintage consoles basically act as level selectors. In the demo you can only play on the Nintendo GameBoy, the other consoles being greyed out. Once selected you’ll find yourself sitting in a classroom, with a rather angry teacher at the front trying to explain the basics of human biology.
Look around the classroom and you’ll see other children sitting at their desks. Some are bored, others are trying to work; the girl behind you encourages you to spit a ball of paper through your pen into a dustbin in the corner of the room. If you manage to accomplish this you’ll be rewarded with a bizarre scene where… no, we won’t give it away. Needless to say, it’s funny, surreal and fits in with the vibe and atmosphere of the game.
Look down and you’ll see a GameBoy tucked under the table. It’s fully interactive, and enables you to play a fictional version of Pixel Rift on the console. The attention to detail is amazing. It looks and feels like an actual GameBoy game, with green and black graphics, accurate controls and an audio track that could have pulled straight from an original GameBoy game. Reach the end of the level and the game explodes into reality, where you can battle the boss in the classroom environment. It’s amazing. One of the best experiences we’ve had to date on the Oculus Rift. Just check out our video above (although be warned: spoilers!!)
That’s the whole idea of Pixel Rift: to play retro games on the original hardware in the actual era they were released; and it works brilliantly. Okay, so technically the demo is a bit of a mess. Animations are jerky and sometimes loop, and there’s some clipping issues to be found. But that’s to be expected from a game still deep in development, and it doesn’t really matter, because the ambition on show is clear to see. Pixel Rift brings retro games back to life in virtual reality, and merges them with virtual worlds that are both funny and charming. We honestly can’t wait to see more.
You can download the demo of Pixel Rift today from The Rift Arcade Market. Grab it while you can, and enjoy its surreal delights on the Oculus Rift.