Ionia’ Review – Cinematic Pretense & Little Substance – Road to VR

Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia is a VR journey that guarantees to take you to a fantastical world crammed with musical natural world. Regardless of some earnest makes an attempt at worldbuilding, the tip result’s a skinny and superficial theme park experience that bears a fleeting resemblance to its flashy promo trailer.

Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia Particulars:

Obtainable On: Oculus Quest, SteamVR, PSVR
Value: 
$15
Developer
: ROTU
Launch Date: September 23rd, 2021
Reviewed On: Oculus Quest 2 through Hyperlink

Gameplay

I usually don’t frontload opinions with gameplay size as a result of that’s not all the time a dependable metric to find out whether or not one thing is value taking part in or not. For instance, the Vader Immortal collection are solely about an hour-long per episode, however are a shining instance of what occurs whenever you put high quality over amount. Every of them even have discrete mild saber dojos the place you may stage up your expertise towards waves of enemies, which does an excellent job of rounding out a brief however candy encounter with the storied Star Wars universe. I’m indirectly evaluating Ionia and Vader Immortal right here, I’m simply utilizing it for example of why gameplay size isn’t an important issue.

Nonetheless, I feel it bears mentioning forward of my breakdown that Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia is a 45-minute expertise. And if it had been a really fulfilling 45 minutes, that is the place I’d soften the blow. However actually, Ionia feels extra like a vertical slice of gameplay from 2016 than a sincere to goodness fleshed-out recreation from 2021. Its cinematic pretense and declare to “push the bounds of PC VR” merely aren’t backed up by a cogent story, enjoyable or intelligent puzzles, actual exploration, constantly good graphics—mainly the entire gamut of what we anticipate from VR video games these days.

Ionia' Assessment – Cinematic Pretense & Little Substance – Street to VR 4Picture courtesy ROTU

Ionia places heavy give attention to its music-based puzzles, though there are actually solely round 5 cases whenever you really play an instrument, and people moments act extra as one-off hurdles in your option to the following block of exposition, served up by your sister Allegra.

Allegra spends a lot time speaking and guiding you thru the entire recreation that I by no means as soon as felt like the primary character. I’m referred to as on to avoid wasting the world in a flashy 2D cutscene earlier than the sport begins and solely after having performed the entire recreation do I’ve the remotest thought why.

It’s a disgrace that music-based puzzles are solely one-off occasions, and don’t supply extra structured engagement. The totally different puzzles are direct analogues to real-world devices, just like the xylophone and the handpan, a new-age instrument that sounds much like a metal drum, however none of them take the chance to show you something in addition to hitting a couple of random notes. More often than not Allegra queues you to hit the fitting notes and you then’re off to the following simply resolved calamity or theme park-style room transition.

Worldbuilding might be Ionia’s most redeeming function, and that’s actually not saying lots. There are supposedly a couple of extra areas of the island that (if ROTU continues as a collection) will take us in later episodes, however outdoors of exposition the sport affords little or no when it comes to storytelling in its guided one-way journey by means of the sport’s 5 chapters. Why am I right here? The place am I going? What’s the Harva? Who’re the Tritones? All of that’s doled out basically close to the tip, and to be sincere it felt like I had simply completed a demo by the point the credit rolled.

So in the long run, Ionia doesn’t actually reside as much as the on-paper manifesto it units out for itself. It needs to supply up a smorgasbord of VR interplay with issues like climbing, taking part in devices, being sucked into cinematic sequences—and none of it feels prefer it pays off, or affords greater than a momentary distraction.

Immersion

For all its guarantees of exploration and marvel, Ionia doesn’t appear content material with letting its gamers discover or expertise the world naturally. Though the default teleportation motion might be turned off within the settings in favor of a extra immersive clean ahead locomotion, the sport is riddled with moments whenever you aren’t allowed to maneuver. You may name these ‘immersive cutscenes’, the place you’re forcibly locked in place to marvel at a broad and open space teeming with life you by no means get to discover underlined with one other thick slice of exposition. Attempting to maneuver in the course of the many immersive cutscene elicits an annoying purple ‘X’ within the nook of your area of view.

As for exploration, a good portion of the sport options climbing. Climbable areas are highlighted yellow and lack a way of tactility, as there’s no haptic suggestions to let you already know you’ve locked on or not.

I really feel like all climbable areas should essentially be marked in florescent yellow as a result of the sport’s darkish inexperienced/brown colour palette merely doesn’t present for sufficient visible distinction.

Though visuals are typically muddy, at occasions Ionia’s stage design can really feel expertly produced. An inconsistent stage of polish is endemic all through the sport although, with moments of curiosity destroyed by falling out of the world while climbing a staircase, or seeing an animal, referred to as an Ocarina, fully invert its head inside its physique. I wasn’t attempting to find bugs both, simply tossing a little bit of fruit to a hungry animal.

This was already the third bug I encountered within the PC model of the sport. To repair it, I needed to teleport inside his physique and blindly seize on the berry and teleport out, one thing that destroys any sense of immersion you might need constructed up. Bugs occur, however I shouldn’t be tasked with logging them, particularly once they’re so blatant, and neither must you.

As you’d guess, object interplay is fairly lame since nothing on the planet seems to be physics-based. You possibly can simply put your hand by means of something, together with interactive objects. The one onerous restrict is the flexibility to look by means of partitions, which is obscured by a black shader. There’s no stock to talk of since there aren’t any key gadgets or collectibles.

You possibly can exit and restart chapters at will, though you’ll have to begin from the start and replay your entire factor. You possibly can’t change settings with out exiting the chapter, so you must have completely all the pieces set earlier than taking part in.

Consolation

Ionia options a suitable variety of consolation options, together with variable snap-turn and teleportation. It doesn’t have a devoted seated mode although, so that you’ll want to face or by some means modify your view in-platform.

There are a couple of theme park-style experience sequences, nonetheless these are largely tame, and often go in straight traces at constant speeds.

ROTU: Ionia Consolation Settings – September 23rd, 2021

Turning

Synthetic turning ✔ Easy-turn ✖ Adjustable pace n/a Snap-turn ✔ Adjustable increments ✔

Motion

Synthetic motion ✔ Easy-move ✖ Adjustable pace n/a Teleport-move ✔ Blinders ✔ Adjustable power ✔ Head-based ✔ Controller-based ✔ Swappable motion hand n/a

Posture

Standing mode ✔ Seated mode ✖ Synthetic crouch ✖ Actual crouch ✔

Accessibility

Subtitles ✔ Languages English, German, Spanish, French, Chinese language Alternate audio ✖ Adjustable problem ✖ Two fingers required ✔ Actual crouch required ✖ Listening to required ✖ Adjustable participant top ✖

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Credit score : Supply Hyperlink