Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: October 29, 2018
18 Floors VR is a room escape survival horror puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. Winking Entertainment has earned a positive reputation for producing and curating a wide range of virtual reality and indie games after a strong showing at Chinajoy 2017. Can 18 Floors deliver a unique virtual reality room escape experience by fusing together two such unlikely genres as survival horror and puzzles?
The story is said to revolve around a female protagonist named Andrea attempting to discover her true identity and solve a huge conspiracy, but there are no story cutscenes in the build up to or in between each floor or room to show the progression of the story.
Gameplay begins with a narrated tutorial that is set to the backdrop of a galaxy; informing the player of how to teleport from area to area, interact with nearby and distant objects, shine a torch light and more besides in an efficient fashion that teaches the core gameplay mechanics within a couple of minutes.
Despite 18 Floors VR giving the impression from its title that it features 18 floors worth of rooms; there are actually only two floors upon the release of the game. However, more floors are planned to be released gradually including two floors for free in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Environment design is filled with references set in the realms of Chinese folklore within multiple rooms spanning two floors that have unsettling paintings on the walls staring at you as you attempt to solve puzzles with the second floor titled Train over the Sea of Blood having an atmosphere reminiscent to exploration on a boat in PS1 classic Echo Night. Puzzles are wide ranging in each room as there are numerous puzzle boxes, puzzle pieces and clues for how the puzzle boxes are supposed to be opened and what the puzzle pieces represent or where they are supposed to fit.
The controls are appropriately mapped to two PlayStation Move controllers that represent your left and right hands with a control scheme consisting of holding the move button while using the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality of the PlayStation Move controllers to choose exactly where you want to teleport to before releasing the move button to teleport there; pressing square or triangle to turn 90 degrees at a time to the left or right respectively; pressing or holding the trigger button to interact with a nearby object or holding the trigger button while pressing the move button to interact with a distant object such as a draw, key, puzzle box or puzzle piece; holding X to shine a torch light; and head tracking is utilised to allow the player to look around their surroundings at a full 360 degrees. Vibration occurs on the Move controllers when an object is highlighted that the player is capable of interacting with.
Graphically, 18 Floors VR utilises light and shadows to increase the horror tone to great effect, while the interactive objects and surroundings in each room are designed to an amazing quality that adds to the intrigue of the puzzles, while simultaneously really immersing the player in virtual reality.
Presentation is incredibly minimalist to such an extent that there really aren’t any menus or customisation options; as gameplay begins with the tutorial and naturally continues from there.
A female voice-over narrates the gameplay tutorial, although there are no voice-overs during actual gameplay outside of the tutorial. Sound effects include interacting with objects including draws, puzzle boxes, puzzle pieces; strong tools such as hammers making contact with a surface and more besides, while ambience is specific to each room such as a ticking clock, alongside tense ambient music.
The trophy list includes 6 trophies with 4 silver trophies and 2 gold trophies. Every trophy involves following the story and completing puzzles such as the Back in Time silver trophy for using the mirror to return to the past and the Destroyer silver trophy for using the hammer to break open door 2. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 2 to 5 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although there is a noticeable difficulty curve between figuring out the start of a puzzle with a single puzzle piece and fully understanding how to solve the entire puzzle whether it is a puzzle box, a numbers puzzle or how to escape the room; therefore the difficulty curve depends on the player’s comprehension of every puzzle in each room.
For family and friends situated in the same room; the TV presents what the player is experiencing, albeit without the same quality of depth in comparison to virtual reality. There is no social screen multiplayer which is a missed opportunity to introduce local multiplayer through having the VR player taking on the role of escaping the room, while the TV player attempts to make it as hard as possible for the VR player to escape the room by turning weird sounds on and off on the radio, alongside re-positioning puzzle pieces and important objects in each room. However, there are no online leaderboards which could have focused on the top 10 and global rankings for each player’s fastest times to solve each puzzle, escape each room and complete every puzzle in every room collectively.
18 Floors VR’s replayability stems from two floors comprising of multiple rooms with many puzzles within each room that collectively take somewhere in the region of 60 to 90 minutes to solve before progressing onto the next floor, alongside more floors containing rooms that will be released after launch with at least two floors releasing for free from late 2018 onwards.
- Title: 18 Floors VR
- Developer: Aoga Tech
- Publisher: Winking Entertainment
- System: PlayStation VR
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: 832.7MB