Hyper-Realistic Sim ‘Kayak VR’ Looks Absolutely Gorgeous

Race through checkpoints in Time Attack or kick back and enjoy the scenery in Free-Ride mode.

We’ve seen some visually stunning VR experiences released over the past few years. Games such as Half-Life: Alyx and Microsoft Flight Simulator have shown just how far modern VR technology has come in the hands of both new and experienced developers.

Kayak VR: Mirage, an upcoming VR kayaking simulator from Amsterdam-based developer Better Than Life, is another such title. In this upcoming immersive kayaking sim, you’ll navigate your way through a variety of gorgeous locales using realistic paddling mechanics designed from the ground up for VR.

According to the official Steam page, Kayak VR will feature a variety of unique environments, both realistic and surreal, in which to explore. The kayaking sim features two game modes at the moment: Time Attack has you competing for the best time on each map by racing through a checkpoint course. Free Roam offers a more laidback experience, allowing you the chance to explore each of the photo-realistic locations at your leisure.

Physics-based paddling mechanics promise an authentic kayaking experience. There will also be several comfort options for those prone to seasickness.

To learn a bit more about the upcoming kayaking sim, we spoke with Leon van Oord of Better Than Life.

Image Credit: Better Than Life

Can you describe some of the other locations players will be able to explore?

“VR always walks the funny tightrope of being able to simulate the real world but simultaneously having the inherent promise of being able to go beyond what is realistically possible. We found our first location to be a good showcase of how we can approximate reality and we’re amazing for multiple varied locales based on the real world, but are also toying with wackier concepts.”

“Think of making your way through a flooded city, shooting off of an active volcano, kayaking on Mars. Not making any promises here but we’d like to surprise and delight people with every level, although we’re always listening to feedback to see what the community responds to. Whether we go surreal in the main game or perhaps save that for future expansions if the game is a success remains to be seen for us.”

Any plans for future updates? If so what could that content look like? 

“Development is still very much ongoing and our office is full of post-its with feedback, features, locations, and bugs that we’re encountering and exploring. Multiplayer would obviously be a lot of fun, head-to-head kayaking, tandem kayaking or playing some kayak polo in a big swimming pool. I’d been intimidated by the prospect of making a big multiplayer push when we had no idea if there would even be an audience for our game but after the amazing feedback from the beta-testers so far it feels much less out of reach than I’d have thought a week ago.”

Can you talk a little bit about the development process? How did you achieve this level of graphical fidelity?

“Our goal from the beginning was to challenge the idea that indie VR games can’t look good but there are obviously good reasons for why most games have to compromise on fidelity so we spent a lot of time optimizing everything we could. The target platform was PCVR from the get-go, a choice that not many studios can make because of its limited audience compared to the mobile VR market but we knew there was an opportunity there to stand out.”

Image Credit: Better Than Life

“Nvidia rolling out DLSS support for VR was also a blessing to us and helped stretch our render budget. DLSS helps compress down the cost of everything you’re doing very evenly and becomes more effective when you try to do more ambitious stuff in a game. Epic has also done an amazing job with their acquisition of Quixel to help democratize a photogrammetry workflow, something that was previously only reserved for AAA studios. It helped our small studio to be able to create something that indie studios a few years ago could have never even dreamed of.”

Kayak VR: Mirage is scheduled to launch on March 1st, 2022 on SteamVR headsets. There’s also a closed beta currently being conducted. You can find more information on this via the games’ official Discord.

For more information visit here.

Feature Image Credit: Better Than Life

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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