Stress Level Zero’s latest release is a VR physics playground unlike anything we’ve seen before.
After nearly a year of waiting, Stress Level Zero’s ambitious VR action-adventure game Boneworks has finally been released into the wild, offering players what could very well be the new gold standard for VR gaming.
Available now for $29.99 via SteamVR, Boneworks places you in the shoes of Ford, an employee of Monogon Industries, a powerful multi conglomerate corporation responsible for the creation of an artificial intelligence VR operation system called “Myth OS.” Throughout your adventure, you’ll discover more about the mysterious narrative as you go from section to section solving a variety of physics-based puzzles and duking it out with an army of ‘Null Bodies’ who will attack you on sight.
Though we’re only a couple hours deep into the game so far, Boneworks has already proven itself to be one of the most technically-impressive VR games ever released. Every interaction in Boneworks–no matter how subtle–feels incredibly satisfying. This is due in large part to its advanced physics mechanics, which add a sense of weight and momentum to every action you make. Say you’re chopping up a wooden crate with a large ax. Because of the “weight” of the tool, swinging with one hand does little damage to the object. However, by gripping the ax evenly across its handle with both hands, you gain much better control over the tool, resulting in more damage.
You’ll come across a variety of weaponry during your adventures throughout Myth OS, both ranged and melee. Much like the close-quarter weapons, such as the crowbar, ax, brick, sword, and sledgehammers, each firearm included in Boneworks feels incredibly realistic. Careful how you spend your bullets, though. Ammunition can be used to take down baddies or as currency for various upgrades via a comical vending machine.
Though it may sound relatively unimportant, these universal rules serve as the groundwork for the entire Boneworks experience. Every obstacle, puzzle, and enemy must be approached strategically. For example, in one of the earlier sections of the game, I was tasked with reaching a certain portion of the level while evading gunfire from an auto turret. After several failed attempts at outrunning the bullets, I instead used both my arms to lift a large metal barrel and proceeded to shimmy past my robotic nemesis while my impromptu shield absorbed the brunt of the attack. In another level, I came face-to-face with a corrupted Null Body out for blood. After attempting to punch my way out of the situation to no avail, I panicked, picked up a nearby brick, and proceeded to beat my enemy into submission. It was a surreal, oddly therapeutic experience.
It’s for these reasons, and several others, that Boneworks will be appreciated most by veteran VR players. Those who’ve experienced the awkward and clunky interactions featured throughout countless past VR games will immediately appreciate the level of detail put into each and every movement and interaction. For those experiencing VR for the first time, the game will seem more like a glorified tech demo rather than a narrative experience.
Boneworks also features a realistic body IK system that allows for natural interactions with the in-game world. Can’t see over a ledge? Use your arms to lift yourself up for a better look. Stack of boxed blocking your way? Extend those arms and push those suckers out of the way as if you were cowering your fridge for some late-night munchies. These elements, while subtle, add a layer of realism to the experience that’s nearly impossible to describe with words.
As we dig deeper into the corrupt and chaotic world of Boneworks, we can’t wait to see what other surprises are hidden within this endlessly entertaining experience.
Boneworks is available now for $29.99 via SteamVR. While the game works fine with any PC VR headset, those looking for the most immersive experience will want to invest in a pair of Valve “Knuckles” controllers. With a major focus on hand positioning, Boneworks was designed specifically with the Valve Index “Knuckles” controllers in mind.
The ability to grab onto different portions of an object or the environment is a critical aspect of the Boneworks experience. And while the Touch controllers and Vive wands do a commendable job, you’re still receiving a watered-down version of the game.
Feature Image Credit: Stress Level Zero