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VIRGO’s dreamy Water Planet drips to Steam this summer

When we last saw Water Planet in the summer of 2016, the virtual reality game accompaniment to electronic musician VIRGO’s EP of the same name, it had just been ushered through Steam Greenlight. But that was sometime ago, and after hearing nothing but crickets for nearly six months, its release window is finally upon us. Water Planet will be released on Steam for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and even PC in Summer 2017. When listening to VIRGO’s music, it’s hard not to dream up the world of Water Planet on your own, as the synths lend themselves to the…

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Splitter Critters swipes itself to release

Sometimes mobile games feel a bit hopeless, forever trapped to the realm of Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds copycats. But then a really good Match 3 game comes along, or a port of a transportation planning simulator, and faith becomes restored. In the new iOS (and soon Android) title Splitter Critters, the mobile platformer formula is twisted to show what shines in mobile games, rather than forcing in what doesn’t. Splitter Critters is a platforming game from the Canada-based two-person development team RAC7 Games, the same developers behind Dark Echo and Super Surf Bros. In the game, the player swipes…

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Is this Twitter bot the next Bob Ross?

Bob Ross is a man that needs no introduction, but I’ll write one anyway. Bob was a television host from long ago that taught the world how to paint. His signature afro, calming voice, and beautifully hand-painted vistas made him a household name in the 1980s and 1990s, until he lost his battle with lymphoma in 1995. Though Bob has remained a legend, still. And now there’s a Twitter bot paying homage to Bob’s life’s work. Happy Little Painting 594282521-9 pic.twitter.com/2UZt2UNJQ3 — Bot Ross (@JoyOfBotRoss) January 26, 2017 Created by Brent Werness, the Twitter bot generates an endless cascade of new…

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Low-poly puzzles restore light to a dark world in a new game

Virtual reality is still in its early days, and being young, has a lot of issues that need ironing out. But sometimes developers can’t pinpoint everything, which is why the vast majority of developers are releasing games on Steam Early Access—to crowdsource Quality Assurance testing, in a way—before a grander, more polished release. And joining the ever-growing Steam Early Access club for VR is Awaken, a new puzzle slash rhythmic music game from developers Blueprint Reality, Inc. and sound design by BAFTA-award winning composer Jeff van Dyck. At first glance, Awaken looks like cuter, digital version of the board game…

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Superhot VR’s new update challenges you to beat the game in 10 minutes

In our friends at Versions’ end of the year wrap-up of their favorite virtual reality interactions of 2016, Superhot VR stood out. Superhot VR takes after the bullet-time videogame it spawned from, except with one clear difference—as your actual head and body moved, as did time. This lends itself to a variety of great VR-bound interactions: punching people in the head and watching them shatter ever-slowly, catching a gun in mid-air. Yet one stood out above the rest for our list: ricocheting a minuscule bullet off a pistol. In an update to the Oculus Touch-exclusive game, Superhot VR is going to…

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Serve up coffee to the dead in an upcoming anime-inspired visual novel

A long, long, long, long, long time ago (summer of last year), I was a barista. I was a barista for nearly three years, workin’ away at the same ol’ shop. Brewing tea, chatting with customers, and befriending regulars. When I played VA-11 Hall-A last year, a game that marketed itself as a “cyberpunk bartending action,” I felt the familiarity of working in the beverage-serving industry wash over me. In the upcoming Necrobarista, I imagine it might evoke a similar feeling. Announced this month at Visual;Conference, the Route 59 Games-developed Necrobarista is a visual novel about a cafe in Melbourne, Australia and…

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Explore a dark, sacred world inspired by Finnish folklore

In some beliefs and cultures, the separation of Earth and Heaven isn’t so cut and dry. In some, there’s an odd space that finds itself sandwiched in between: a point of connection between the ground we know and the sky, whether it’s materialized by a tree, a totem, a mountain, a pillar, or anything sculpted by nature or man. In Axis Mundi, a virtual reality game borne of the recent “waves”-themed Global Game Jam, the so-called connection between Earth and Heaven is a grim place. Designed in Finland by Hu’ng, Kalle, Essi Tommila, Antti Kytö, and Mirka for the Global Game…

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A VR short film has been nominated for an Academy Award

While last year the Emmy’s recognized the Oculus Story Studio short film Henry, this year another awards ceremony is taking notice of virtual reality—the Academy Awards. Pearl, a VR short from Google, has been nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. Pearl, released in 2016, stands out among the 360-degree, mobile VR, and room-scale VR tales told by Google’s Spotlight Stories. The short is directed by Patrick Osborne, the same of the Oscar-winning short Feast, which screened before the Disney film Big Hero 6 in theaters. But Pearl is a different beast than Feast, because it plops the viewer directly…

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Nothing like a 2-bit beach, 8-bit sounds, and real sand to get in your shoes

I’m not a beach person. I don’t like when sand gets in my shoes. And I don’t like wearing sandals to avoid that very problem either. I live in San Francisco, where the beaches are notoriously windy and cold, not sun-kissed and surf-ready. When I think of beaches, I often wish I were thinking of something else. But Virtua Walker ‘87, a virtual reality game borne from last weekend’s Global Game Jam, imagines a different kind of beach—one that I might even fancy walking along. The 2-bit color limited Virtua Walker ‘87 was developed by the Scotland-based Robin Sloan, Paul…