Stress Level Zero Teases Next Gen Experimental VR Game ‘Boneworks’

Valve Knuckle controllers bring a new level of detail to this physics-based adventure game.

Best known for their multiplayer shooter Hover Junkers, as well as the fantastically bizarre Duck Season, LA-based developer Stress Level Zero has been pumping out AAA VR titles since 2016. Last year however, the team released a video on their Node YouTube channel teasing some extremely detailed physics-based gun-play that took the internet, and the VR community, by storm. Their was even a brief tech demo showcased during the 2018 Game Developers Conference that further fueled hype around this insanely detailed experience. 

Now, nearly a year since its initial showing, Brandon Laatsch and his team have returned with a plethora of new updates regarding their highly-anticipated sandbox VR adventure.

Available later this year, Boneworks is a sandbox VR adv enture that features some of the most interesting physics-based VR gameplay we’ve ever seen in a modern VR title. Utilizing Valve’s yet-to-be-released Knuckle controllers (Oculus Touch will also be compatible), the experience offers users a new level of detailed interaction previously unseen in a virtual space.

The pressure-sensitive grips, for example, allow players to reach out and physically grab-and-squeeze objects to pick them up. While this may sound simple, being able to slide your hands up and down a crowbar as opposed to having your hands permanently snap to designated positions greatly increases immersion for the player. In the videos provided, players can be seen using the crowbar to climb objects, open doors, and defeat enemies.

Next generation crowbar physics / Image Credit: Stress Level Zero

No Knuckles? No problem. Boneworks is also playable using standard Vive wands, although you will be missing out on key gameplay aspects. 

Equally impressive is the hyper-realistic IK body system, which moves and bends with extreme accuracy. Based on the video provided, each limb appears to mirror their real-life counterpart almost identically, a welcomed change to the wonky “t-rex” arms and “flamingo legs” featured in many VR shooters.

Headbutt your way to victory / Image Credit: Stress Level Zero

According the titles official Steam page, “Boneworks is a narrative VR action adventure using advanced experimental physics mechanics. Dynamically navigate through environments, engage in physics heavy combat, and creatively approach puzzles with physics.”

As for what that narrative could be remains a mystery. So far all we know is that players will be tasked with exploring the deep inner working of Monogon Industries’ artificial intelligence operating system; Myth OS. The developers promise a healthy amount of puzzles and physics-based combat using an assortment of weaponry, including guns, swords, axes, clubs, spears, hammers, experimental energy weapons, nonsensical mystery tools, and anomalous physics weapons.

Of course, being a Stress Level Zero game, Boneworks features its fair-share of random silliness. Balloon guns, talking disembodies heads, and robot crabs you can headbutt are just a few ridiculous elements we’ve seen so far, although I’m sure we can expect plenty more.

Naturally, the videos heavy focus on crowbar mechanics have lead some to speculate whether this title has anything to do with the long-rumored trio of VR games supposedly in development at Valve. Listen, just because there’s a healthy amount of crowbar-based gameplay doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Half-Life. I mean, sure, you could say those tiny robot critters look somewhat like Headcrabs. And yeah, last years tech demo did include a functioning gravity gun… But that doesn’t — it couldn’t possibly — oh my god…

Boneworks will be available later this year on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality. Considering the initial tech demo was shown at last years GDC, there’s a solid chance we could be receiving more information during this years festivities March 18th – 22nd in San Francisco, California.

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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