There’s already a lot of media praise for the completely dull looking VR puzzle-shooter from Valve called Half-Life: Alyx. It’s yet another trite VR title that renders nothing but blasé contempt for trying to push the same old, same old onto people who are tired of these uninteresting games. The only selling point Valve is using for Half-Life: Alyx is that it stars yet another stale, Wiener Melange-flavored female protagonist who “don’t need no man”. Everything else about Valve’s upcoming title is completely unoriginal, regurgitated horse manure that is neither interesting nor entertaining.
On the opposite end of that gag-worthy abomination is a game called Boneworks that actually looks like it does right by the limited scope of the technological compère for which VR hoisted.
When I clicked on the trailer for the game I was expecting another trite VR puzzle title with disembodied hands, walking simulator segments, and teleportation instead of locomotion. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Boneworks features a fully rendered player-character with a world-view body and moving arms and hands. This instantly raised its appeal and piqued my interests further.
As the trailer went on we began to see how VR could be utilized in emergent ways to make games feel a lot more immersive and dynamic, such as preventing NPCs from entering a room and blowing their brains out pushing the door close; or knocking an enemy down by swinging at them in between reloading your gun; or grabbing a nearby item and smashing them across the skull with it; or stabbing an NPC up his rectum with a knife after using a gravity gun to toss him off his feet.
The game reminds me of a mix of Half-Life meets Portal meets Superhot meetsThe Stanley Parable.
Yes, some of the animations are stiff; yes the ragdoll is rigid most times; and yes the graphics aren’t the best.
However, the gameplay for Boneworks genuinely looks fun. It looks like the next step up of what a new generation first-person shooter should be. It looks like it gives you workout, has you constantly peeping over your shoulder, and consistently utilizing your skills to dispatch enemies in a wide variety of unique ways.
When I think about games being fun, this is the kind of trailer that convinces me that VR might be worth picking up and playing again. I mean, don’t get me wrong here… I still think VR sucks donkey balls in its current iteration, but some modifications and upgrades over time have seen it edge a little bit closer to becoming tolerable.
They still need full body recognition, they still need tether-free headsets as the standard, and they still need better controllers (although the Valve Index Controllers are moving in the right direction). But when you compare it to Half-Life: Alyx there’s a gulf between what Valve is planning to release in March and what Stress Level Zero has already completed. If you need a refresher, you can check out the trailer for Half-Life: Alyx below.
Stress Level Zero has almost made me a fan of VR, and if the technology ever upgrades to a point where it’s not insufferably lame before the VR market implodes and goes kaput, I would definitely be interested in seeing what they could do once full-body haptic suits hit the consumer marketplace.
For now, you can get your hands on Boneworks for $29.99 over on the Steam store. And yes, you will be required to have a VR headset to play the game, as some of the core mechanics just don’t work without an HMD.