Today I want to review a little gem that you can find on SteamVR marketplace: The Price of Freedom.
The Price of Freedom is a short experience made by Construct Studio, a little american indie studio. It is a little adventure where you are a CIA agent and you have to kill a person to help America in the cold war against URSS, so to help America in remaining free. During the adventure you will gather evidence of stuff, you will read documents and you will discover the story behind this necessary murder. In the end everything will become clear to you. I can’t tell you more, because I don’t want to be a damn spoiler!
The experience lasts something like 10-15 minutes and it has to be experienced in room scale (I tried playing it standing still, but it is impossible).
Ok, described like this, it seems a VR experience like 10.000 others. Why do I say that this is so special?
First of all, it is well crafted. I mean, the graphics is neat, the music is good, everything is coherent with the story. The studio behind the game is little, so they made a smart choice: instead of making a bad ambitious experience, they made a very good little experience. So, for example, all of the rooms where the game take place are very little, but they’re full of details and objects to play with. The atmosphere is dark throughout the game, since we’re talking about a murder.
Then I appreciate the fact that it is the kind of game that lets you experience with all objects inside the room. You can take papers and read them, you can look at photographies, you can touch wardrobes, you can play with a lot of stuff. The game lets you explore all the environments, even if they’re very little. You have all the time you wish, you don’t have to hurry, so really your start reading every document that comes to your hands and this increases the sense of presence a lot, because you start becoming really immersed inside the story, you really crave to know the truth. There are also useless objects and it’s funny playing with those, too: on the desk of the person you have to kill there is a lit cigarette: if you take it and then put it next to your mouth, you can see the smoke coming through it… really a nice effect!
The sense of presence is increased by the fact that every menu is natural in the game, exactly as other games like Job Simulator try to do. At the beginning you have to choose which language you want to play with: English or Chinese. Even if the temptation to see if I could understand something in Mandarin was great, I decided it was better to go for English. The cool part is that language menu is actually not even a menu: you see a table in front of you and you have to eat some pills if you want the English version and other ones if you want the Chinese one. A similar natural immersion is made at the end of the experience, where the final credits are shown as writings on the walls of room you’re in. Everything in this game is immersive… the presence is high with this experience.
During the game you unfold all its little story. At the end there is a plot twist… I mean, not a simple one, but a “Kevin Space stops limping” one.
I did know that there was a little surprise in the end… I was expecting it, but nonetheless, it surprised me. It is this plot twist that trasforms “The Price of Freedom” from a little nice indie experience to a masterpiece. All the ending leaves inside you a sense of emptiness, sadness, anger… it’s a whole set of emotions. I was shocked. This is why I love virtual reality: because it can convey strong emotions, because can make us live situations that give us strong sensations. And the Price of freedom uses a combination of gaming and storytelling to offer us these kind of emotions.
For me, it is one of the best VR experiences out there. Trust me, if you have not tried it… go to SteamVR and download it now! It’s free…