One of the fresh genres of games in the medium of virtual reality that I’m most is excited for is exploration. Exploratory games with relaxed goals and low thresholds promise wonder, excitement and joy. They are, in my mind, the best at sharing the VR medium with new players.
How We Soar is one such game. Just announced the week ahead of Sony’s E3 2016 presser, How We Soar is currently a PlayStation VR exclusive.
This game is set in a world of books and papercraft. Players mount the back of a giant, paper bird, look around with their headset and use the DualShock 4 to fly, dive and turn about the space.
As you fly, it’s your objective to move through rings and fly close to the surface of the jumbled up and relatively colorless scene around you. Skimming the surface of an object returns color, and gathering rings eventually leads to the release of a bird with a key. Once you capture that bird, the scene is put together and your can fly about the diorama that’s frozen in time before you.
How We Soar is, so far, a beautiful and calming game. Controlling the bird works fine, but it’s something that Tom Turner, Managing Director of Penny Black Studios, told me they’re hard at work on making better. Turns, he explained, are the hard part. “Developing for VR is like trying to hit a moving target,” he offered.
What Tom meant is that players have such different comfort thresholds when it comes to VR. Some can put on the headset and want to fly around, full speed, ripping through turns while looking all over. Others have to take it slow for fear that motion sickness creeps in. This isn’t a problem specifically with How We Soar, either. Ever PlayStation VR demo ended with me removing the headset and the developer immediately asking, “are you okay?” Every time.
I was okay, VR doesn’t bother me, and that brings me to my only gripe. Penny Black Studios has, so far, made the decision to make How We Soar approachable to the widest base possible. The turns are buttery smooth with the bird, but they’re also slow. I wanted to go faster. I even gave that feedback in person following the demo, something I rarely do.
How We Soar is set to release for the PlayStation VR platform by the end of this year.