Downward Spiral: Horus Station is 3rd Eye Studios’ zero-gravity space VR game
The Helsinki, Finland-based company has tried to solve the tough technical problem of letting you enjoy the feeling of floating in space — without making you sick.
The title will come out on the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets this spring.
Above: Downward Spiral: Horus Station promises it won’t make you sick.
The story takes players through a lost vessel abandoned by its crew. Solving the mystery of the space station will take wits and ingenuity as you fight or avoid dangers unknown. You’ll use the ship’s maintenance hardware — like bolt throwers, rail guns, and arc welders to take out threats, solve puzzles and find the truth of why Horus Station is adrift in space.
Downward Spiral: Horus Station will tell its story through the environment, as the game features no dialogue or cinematics. Instead, players will have to piece together the plot through observation and interpretation as they navigate the derelict space station.
The soundtrack was composed by HIM frontman Ville Valo. And the developers are introducing a new control system that rethinks how movement works in zero-gravity. Rather than just float, players will have to push themselves off of the environment to propel themselves forward, or use tools just as they would in deep space.
The game is also playable on both a regular screen and VR headset. There’s also the option to entirely remove combat from the campaign for those who wish to soak up the story without enemies. In addition to Horus Station’s story campaign, there’s eight-player player-versus-player and player-versus-environment multiplayer modes including Deathmatch, Horde and Survivor challenges.
Above: Downward Spiral: Horus Station may remind you of Dead Space.
Gregory Louden, lead designer of 3rd Eye Studios, said the sci-fi game was inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, Twin Peaks, and There Will be Blood.
“Last year’s Downward Spiral: Prologue was our proof of concept. Now we’re almost ready to let players embark on a full-length adventure to discover the atmospheric Horus Station,” said 3rd Eye Studios CEO Kari Koivistoinen, in a statement. “For those that wish to experience the game in VR, we’ve continued to develop our proprietary tech that mitigates VR motion sickness while allowing for a full range of movement. Movement is seamless, allowing players to engage in both thoughtful exploration and pulse-quickening combat.”
In an email, Koivistoinen said the company has raised $1 million, and it will release a set of developer tools, dubbed 3rd Eye Core, this spring. The company has 12 people who contributed to the game, but the core team is six people who previously worked on games such as Alan Wake, Halo 5, Ori and the Blind Forest, Trials series, and Quantum Break.
3rd Eye Studios was started in June 2016 by game veterans from Remedy Entertainment, Unity Technologies, Bugbear Entertainment, RedLynx and Moon Studios.
I asked them how the game differs from Lone Echo, the zero-gravity VR game from Ready at Dawn Studios. Louden responded:
Downward Spiral: Horus Station differs to Lone Echo in a few major ways. We’re big fans of Lone Echo, but we feel we’re creating a very different experience. Firstly Horus Station is a mysterious and atmospheric zero gravity thriller set in the lost and forgotten Horus Station for solo or co-op players. Our main goal is to tell a Sci-Fi thriller without the conventional audio diaries, voice over and cinematics like in other games. We want our story to be discovered, not told like in 2001: A Space Odyssey or Inside where players interpret what they’re shown and are not told what is. We want players to discover the story and events, so we won’t say much ahead or after release, but there’s a great world, message and question for players to discover.
Secondly I feel we have an incredible musical score by platinum selling HIM frontman Ville Valo. It’s mysterious, atmospheric, sophisticated and combined with our sound designer Can Uzer’s work, the sound landscape is going to be a fantastic audio experience for players ahead. We’ll be sharing more info about it all in the future, but I really feel it’s a great element of the experience.
Thirdly, our locomotion while similar to Lone Echo has evolved even more since our debut Downward Spiral: Prologue came out last March. As you may have noticed we’re not just a VR game, we’ve found a way to bring grab to move locomotion used in Prologue to gamepads and keyboard too. So rather than just float and move as you would on the ground, as other games have done, players will have to push themselves off of the environment to propel themselves forward, or use special Horus Station hardware like the hand thruster or grappling magnet to navigate just as you would in deep space.