It only makes sense that ustwo, the creators behind the mind-bending mobile game Monument Valley, would venture into virtual reality. Having pushed the limitations of 2D isometric architecture, the team is now turn their attention to a 3D, 360 degree world that relies on your line of sight to solve puzzles. Taking place in a sunset-hued archipelago, Land’s End brings you back to the ancient relics of neolithic monoliths. After recently releasing a new trailer and announcing an October 30th launch date, ustwo is now set to revolutionize VR exploration just as it did with mobile gaming.
Created for Samsung’s GearVR headset, which combines Oculus Rift technology with the mobility of Samsung Galaxy phones, ustwo has had to overcome a lot of basic design challenges while workng with the cutting edge technology. Beyond just controlling for the dreaded “virtual reality sickness,” ustwo games says it had to rethink things as basic as interaction. The result is a world that, much like Monument Valley, limited perspective and interactions to their basic functions—which, consequently, opens up players to a whole new experience. “We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to let people move around these worlds in a way that felt kind of almost subconscious,” Peter Pashley explains to Wired.
Though Land’s End pushes the limitations of modern technology, it also brings you back to an elemental time when the sea, sand, and sun worked in tandem with the human senses. Using a gaze-based mechanic, you move around ancient relics by turning your head and following pre-determined paths that use “lookpoints” to progress you forward. Puzzle solving is also based on gaze, as your eye sight creates a glowing beam known as a “starline,” which unlocks different interactions and secrets from each monolith.
Inspired by structures like Stonehenge, ustwo’s focus on sunlight and perspective are not only appropriate to VR but also to its neolithic inspirations. Sights such as Ireland’s famous prehistoric monument Newgrange were built to align with the beam of light that came from the rising sun and winter solstice. In the same way Monument Valley brought a truly sensorial experience to touch interactions, Land’s End appears to bring the instinctual human experience to virtual reality. Though the different islands in this ancient virtual world do not exist, ustwo artist Kevin Wong tells Wired that, “They’re reminiscent of real world places. Perhaps it is our Earth, but it’s several million years ago, or several million years in the future.” With the quickly approaching release of Land’s End in October, ustwo will only continue to bend time and space, bringing you back to prehistoric times through the advent of historic new technologies.