From developer Coatsink, comes a delightful puzzle platformer Esper, a first-person Oculus Rift/Samsung Gear VR indie title. Taking place in 1975, as one of the members of the public who have displayed extra-sensory abilities, and under the guide of national security, players will be ‘encouraged’ by a government contractor to prove they are not a threat by completing various tests using their telekinesis. The game got great reception last year, and it only increased since launch.
INTRODUCTIONEsper is one of those games that can catch players by surprise if they haven't read up on or seen any footage of it. I knew it was a virtual reality game but didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did since I don't play puzzle games.
A game developer over at Coatsink announced that Esper 2 is out on Oculus Rift and as part of a new bundle called Esper: The Collection, it will include the first Esper. Both games originally launched on Samsung Gear VR before Esper 2 joined the launch line-up on Oculus Rift in March. The bundle will replace Esper 2 on the Oculus store, which means existing owners of Esper 2 will automatically receive the first game for free. New players will be able to purchase the bundle for $14.99, £10.99, €14.99.
NARRATIVEEsper is a first-person Oculus Rift/Samsung Gear VR puzzle game set in 1975. Certain members of the public have begun to display extra-sensory abilities, and under the guise of national security, the government panics and starts forcing citizens to undergo rigorous aptitude tests. As one of these people, players will be ‘encouraged’ by a government contractor to prove they are not a threat by completing various tests using their telekinesis.
While the story itself may sound simple it's far from it, and the developers did a fantastic job using virtual reality to bring players along for the ride. When you first boot up the game, you are in the room where the game takes place, and it's the only area of the game. Even while staying in the same room throughout this indie, you can see the puzzles change the environment with each test you complete.
According to the official website and press release, here is information about Esper 2:
"The game expands considerably on its predecessor, moving beyond the confines of the lab of Esper and into exotic locales, as well as upping the ante in terms of puzzles and narrative."
Here is the official trailer for Esper 2:
GAMEPLAYThe gameplay for this indie is simple, but it can be challenging at times. The puzzles start out easy with the first one having you pick up a cube then they get more complex as you go along and at times they can get frustrating but with patience, you can see the true beauty the developers at Coatsink put into Esper.
I've heard from many other gamers that VR headsets & VR games can give you headaches and are uncomfortable to play for hours on end, however, I never experienced this problem since I took a break from playing when I felt frustrated with a puzzle. This indie does make the player think for sure and this is one of those games that you can play as a time waster while at the same time the player can sharpen their mind.
If you would like to see Esper's gameplay in action, take a look at the official trailer below:
GraphicsThe development team put in their time with this platformer and it shows. This indie uses 3D graphics and I have to say they look beautiful. The shading, lighting, and everything have been made perfectly. I do admit, I spent some time just taking it all in instead of focusing mainly on completing the puzzles.
Since Esper 2 takes you outside of the lab,all of the scenery looks amazing. Especially if you take a look at the ruins where you have to put together the rocks face to enter another area. I enjoy that the developers expanded and gave us more area to go to. Some of my favorite ones have to be the library, undersea, and the space one with all the stars and rocks floating.
CONTROLSThe controls are simple since you only have to use the touchpad on the side of your VR gear. The player moves the cursor on the object you need to use to complete the test, click on it to pick it up. Slide up or down to make it move up/down and move left and right to make the object come closer to you or far from you. It doesn't matter if you haven't used VR gear before, like me, or have been using one for a while. Esper walks the player through all the controls once you select a new game.
SOUNDAt first, I almost forgot all about the voice acting in the indie, but the narrative sure helps when you don't feel like reading the instructions that pop up. And according to the official website and press release about Esper 2:
"Esper 2 also features a dynamic array of new characters voiced by notable actors Nick Frost, Lara Pulver and Sean Pertwee, who join Eric Meyers, the esteemed vocal talent from the original game."
If you are taking your time and not doing anything, the narrative will tell you to move along and not waste time.
MY VERDICTCoatsink's Esper And Esper 2 may look like a simple game that the development team definitely put a lot of time in. Having an interesting story and good control scheme is a recipe for success - which the team surely delivered on. If you're looking for a fun, casual experience to waste some time, this is the game for you. I really quite enjoyed the time I had with this game. Needless to say, if you enjoy simple puzzle platformer, then pick this indie up - it is definitely worth the price.
|+ Interesting Story||- Gets frustrating at times but with a break, it's an enjoyable game|
|+ Simple Control Scheme|
|+ Sharpens a players mind, like most puzzle games do|
|+ Amazing graphics|