Today I’ve found some time to review Rollercoaster Legends, an interesting experience by Warducks (yes, the guys of the epic Sneaky Bears VR game). I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying a rollercoaster game in VR… so, here you are my impressions of it.
I said I couldn’t resist because I really love rollercoaster games inside VR: if you, like me, have been able to try the UE4 Rollercoasters at the epic DK2 times, you know what I’m talking about. I played that game a lot of times and let all my friends try it. That experience was fantastic because it started very slowly, so everyone relaxed in the beginning, thinking that it was a quiet tour… and then it suddenly started accelerating and turning very fast. In the end, everyone got scared and had all the motion sickness symptoms: at least two colleagues of mine started sweating cold; I had problems with my stomach; other ones felt dizzy. It was a massacre (having a bad health was part of the experience, I think), but it was damn funny and gave me a great adrenaline injection every time, so I loved it. Unluckily that game has never been ported to CV1 and it got lost in the VR history. So, every time I read about a good rollercoaster game, I want to try it, hoping to feel again those unhealthy sensations. But no one has been able to give me the same experience.
I was excited by Rollercoaster Legends, even because in the press release Nikki Lannen, the WarDucks CEO, has declared that the project was born to give a deeper experience to the standard VR rollercoaster one:
We love rollercoasters here at WarDucks but felt what is out there is lacking in certain ways. Many of the rollercoasters available are not focused on your virtual environment and are simply a replica of what is available in real life. We feel as though we have built something which gives the thrill of a rollercoaster but also provides an engaging interesting experience at the same time.
And after I have tried the game, I have to say that they succeeded with this intent.
Rollercoaster Legend is a game into which you just perform a rollercoaster ride: there’s no menu, no interaction, absolutely nothing. You put on the headset and you live the rollercoaster experience for 10 minutes. There’s just an initial loading screen, with the title, then the ride starts immediately. And when it ends, it just restarts again automatically. The loading screen tells you that you can use SPACE key to stop the experience and ENTER to restart it, but… hey, I guess that in 2018 no one uses the keyboard with VR anymore (it is so much 2014), so I can tell you that with Oculus Touch controllers you can use X to pause the game and Y to restart it. The pause feature is very useful if you’re feeling sick, but also if you want to take a break because someone interrupts you or if you want to look around yourself to appreciate the environment. I really loved this feature and I used it also to take my screenshots.
The experience starts in a mine: you are inside a mine cart and you start moving along the rails of the mine. The cart starts moving pretty fast and soon you start feeling that lovely motion sickness sensation that is the reason why we all love rollercoaster games. As I’ve said, feeling sick is part of the experience… and in fact, I’m writing this article while I’m having big nausea. The continuous changes in velocity and direction (the cart goes up, down, left, right) gives you the adrenaline rush that is what we all expect from experiencing rollercoasters even in real life. There are also some special moments where you fall from a big height and have a huge emotional spike. So, the game is amusing for sure: as I always say, virtual reality is great because it can give us emotions… and this game gives you adrenaline, so it works well.
But it is not only an adrenaline game: as I’ve said before, the purpose of Warducks was giving an engaging experience to the user, so they invested a lot in the environment. Very soon, following the rail, you exit from the mine and you start entering some ancient-Greek-themed environments: the temple of Poseidon, the river Styx, the Palace of Hades and so on. I have to admit I had no idea of what the places actually were until I watched the trailer, but I could clearly distinguish a place full of Greek temples and statues, a river, a Greek palace and in the end even a tour of the Hell.
All these environments are simply amazing. The graphics are very well made and you can also really feel the Greek theme in everything. The first time that I entered the temple of Poseidon and saw the various temples all around me, these big Greek statues in front of me, and rocks falling from the sky, I was super-delighted. I never had a rollercoaster experience with such amazing environments. Maybe I had a similar experience while reviewing the storytelling experience Senza Peso, but it is indeed a storytelling experience. This is not, but gave me similar sensations, so really kudos to Warducks.
Environments are many and very variated: some are scary (like the hell), others are more relaxing (like for instance the garden); some ore bluish, others use red tones; some make you run on a rail, others let you move on water or slide on the ground. And these environments are all alive, with various special being inhabiting them.
Some of them also feature great characters: for instance, in hell I had the possibility to pass between the legs of the huge Tartarus and being so close to a huge man made of lava was super-exciting. Continuously changing the environment makes the experience more entertaining and less monotonous. And being the environments so well made and all with a coherent Greek theme really takes the rollercoaster experience to a new level.
The audio is very good, too. The music helps you in getting in the right mood for the environment you’re in: so, for instance, when you’re in the underground prisons of the palace of Hades, you can listen to a scary music… it seems to be in a horror movie in that moment. So, all the sensorial experience is very rich.
I have to say that the game has its shortcomings, too. The experience is too long: 10 minutes of just following a rail is too much. The above mentioned UE4 Rollercoaster lasted for 2 minutes, just the time to have an adrenaline rush. And in fact even during this game, for two minutes, I was super-delighted and super-amazed and I thought it was one of the best game ever made. But then, slowly, I started getting bored: the game has no interactions, so no challenge: you just stay seated for 10 minutes and look all around you. And while the epic environment can alleviate this problem, the more the time passes by, the more you feel bored. Furthermore, the game has very little replayability: once you’ve experienced it once, there’s no reason to play it again. Honestly, I advise you to play it at least two times so that to appreciate better all the environments, but after that, it’s all over. It is like a real-life rollercoaster… no one goes on a rollercoaster ride each day. The other shortcoming is motion sickness: I think it is part of the experience, but if you are very sensitive to it, this game is absolutely not for you.
In the end, I think that Rollercoaster Legends is an awesomely crafted rollercoaster experience in virtual reality. It has a great setting and great graphics and can make you feel real emotions. But it has some design problems: I think that the game should feature two types of rides: a fast one (2 minutes) for standard players and a longer one (10 minutes) for who want to appreciate all the possible environments. Furthermore, the experience has little replayability.
The game is available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR, and Viveport. If you want a link, here you are where you can find it on Steam VR. Its price is €4.99, that is surely coherent with the enormous job that has been made for all that graphics and for the fun that the game can offer, but is a bit too much for only 10 minutes of gameplay. My advice is to wait for a discounted price and then buy it. I advise you to buy it at €5 if:
- You’re a rollercoaster games fanatic;
- You want to support indie devs making great games;
- You make a lot of demonstrations of VR or VR parties. I used UE4 Rollercoasters with everyone that wanted to try VR… so if you make lots of VR demos (for your job or just with friends), then this game at €5 is totally worth it.
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(Header image by Warducks)
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