Edge of Nowhere, by Insomniac Games, is one of the first third person virtual reality games ever to be developed, and I had the privilege of demoing it at E3 2015. The Oculus booth was allowing press to demo only one game, and I had to make my choice in a split second. My knee-jerk reaction was to go with an adventure game, because I had already played The Assembly (another virtual reality adventure game) and, quite frankly, I enjoy them. Plus, I wasn’t sure I was fully prepared to give the dogfighting game EVE: Valkyrie a play yet.
I am thoroughly glad I chose Edge of Nowhere as my Oculus demo. It didn’t cause motion sickness, I found it easy to play, and the demo left me hungering for more. I found it intriguing that a virtual reality game would be third person, especially since the point of virtual reality is immersion. I’ll admit, looking directly at my character kept me from getting totally in touch with the experience, but there were still times I completely forgot about the third person perspective.
In Edge of Nowhere, you play as a man who is searching for a missing expedition team, only to find that things are not all they seem. In the demo I had to walk (and run!) this character through an arctic cave system, outrunning tentacled monsters, only to be confronted by a Cthulhu-esque giant. When the colossus passed over my character, I gazed in wonder at the massive creature as it stomped away. At the end of the demo there was a moment where a voice whispered, “You shouldn’t be here.” I’ll sheepishly admit that I looked around in search of the source of the voice, only to find that tentacles were coming from the sides of my vision and soon engulfed me entirely. It was moments like these that I completely forgot about the third person view of Edge of Nowhere, and got caught up in the thrilling ride.
The third person perspective wasn’t the only thing that helped keep me from getting sick. The other thing that really helped was the fact that Edge of Nowhere had fixed camera movements. Try as I might, I could not move the camera with the controller. Having it set for me, with smooth transitions to other views, completely eased any feelings of motion sickness. I did not have any poor reactions at all. The other great thing about the fixed camera angles was the fact that it allowed me to immerse myself a little better in the game. Rather than constantly trying to change the angle of my point of view, I was able to sit back and enjoy.
As far as controls for Edge of Nowhere goes, they were beyond basic, but in the best way. The character moved with the left control stick, and he jumped using the a button. That was it. Only having these two controls to worry about allowed me again to focus on what was happening in front of me. I looked around with the headset to take in my surroundings, as well as the Cthulhu monster I mentioned before, and I ran and jumped with the controller.
The end of the demo, with the strange whisper and the sudden switch from third person to first person was brilliant. I had been looking at the playable character one second, heard the whisper which caused me to look away from him, and when I looked back I noticed the tentacles wrapping around him and me. The sudden change made me wonder when else this might happen in the full game and excited to play more.
While there’s no solid release date for Edge of Nowhere, it’s a safe bet to assume it will ship around the same time as the Oculus Rift. (The Oculus volunteer himself told me that this was the most likely release date.) Keep an eye out for it in quarter one of 2016. For now, check out this trailer that shows some of the things I experienced in the Edge of Nowhere demo!