A HARROWING YET PUZZLING AFFAIR
There is nothing quite like virtual reality to truly instil a fantastic sense of immersion and paranoia in gamers is there? And not only that, since it’s inception, developers have been more creative than ever in this writers opinion. One such title that has ticked these boxes to have recently found its way into my greasy mitts is 18 floors, an astoundingly unnerving VR puzzle game that is brimming with as much atmosphere and intense sounds and imagery as it is with head scratching and paradigm breaking puzzles. But with my infamous scepticism of motion controls rearing its ugly head big time, its utilization of the PlayStation Move controller takes some getting used to, leaving you spending more time faffing around with the mechanics than enjoying the actual experience if you’re not properly prepared.
18 Floors centres itself around a Queen from beyond the stars named Andrea, who has been living amongst our race for the past 1000 years after her planet was destroyed. After learning the humans are planning to destroy her race, Andrea tries to alter history by traveling through a time-bending black hole known as the ’18 Floors’ to discover herself and find a way around this conspiracy. 18 Floors narrative doesn’t really find its way to the forefront during my time with this title, instead choosing to focus more on the puzzle solving and atmospheric aspect which is what drew me to it in the first place, but upon learning of the whole ethos, adding a sense of Sci-Fi to this otherwise, psychological horror gave the touch variety that you didn’t know it needed.
Artistically, 18 Floors features some of the most impressive and unsettling imagery I’ve seen in a recent VR title. With such realism and a presence of such a powerful dark aura that envelopes you once you emerge yourself in this virtual journey, it is difficult to fight the urge to applaud the craftsmanship that the developers have put into this game. The textures of your surroundings, as well as the items you come across hold such a value of realism to them, even at one point I found myself frantically lifting my feet off the ground as the cockroaches dashed past them. Put this alongside with the added mesmeric nature of the motion controls, made the time I spent feel more than justified. And with great visuals comes great sound quality as well. An actual musical score takes a backseat and takes an extremely simplistic approach as it drones on in the background to give the sounds of the environment time to shine and it’s the screams, demonic noises, the ominous wind and the feeling you are being watched that are some of 18 Floors high points.
18 Floors works as a sort of escape room. You enter the elevator and choose one of the 18 levels and what follows is a cavalcade of head-scratching puzzles that must be solved before you can re-enter the elevator and onto the next floor. These puzzles range from memory, mathematical and even some that require deep exploration of the room to find some valuable clues or vital items in order to progress and with such out of the box thinking that is required, I’m not ashamed to admit that I spent a sizeable amount of time trying to conquer the first room alone. Sadly at the time of this writing, only the first two floors are available, with the other rooms being made available gradually. With the £11.99 price tag on the PlayStation Store, this may split gamers opinions on whether it is, in fact, worth it, but with the amount of time you will be spending in each room, I would say the price tag goes well with what’s on offer and what will eventually be in store for you.
As for the controls, 18 Floors does its best to bring you into the world the developers have made and make it feel as authentic as possible with the use of your Move controllers, but in the experience I had, therein lay the problem. Early on I found the motion controls increasingly difficult to master and it wasn’t until I did some rearranging of my space and fine-tuned my controllers and headset where I finally found some stable ground with them, you may not come across this problem, just make sure you have sufficient space to bring out the full potential ad enough space for you yourself to do some manoeuvring.
18 FLOORS IS AVAILABLE NOW ON PSVR, STEAM VR AND OCULUS
CODE WAS PROVIDED COURTESY OF WINKING ENTERTAINMENT