Viveport Review: The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed
Cloudhead Games’ sci-fi story shines in this outstanding, story-driven experience that showcases just how powerful presence can be in virtual reality.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed is the first entry of an episodic series created for virtual reality from the ground up. It’s clear as you dive into this game that the developers are doing everything they can to make the world feel alive, and this remains present throughout the entire experience, with one of the most authentic virtual reality efforts in recent memory.
If you’re unaware of virtual reality lingo, then you might not be sure of what users mean when they say that a game has a great sense of presence. Basically, presence is a state of existence, and when talking about virtual reality, it’s normally used to describe how real the experience feels as a whole, and how well the application does to make the player feel like he or she is really there, in whatever world they are visiting at the time. This is a very important part of the virtual reality formula, and it’s something that Cloudhead Games captured perfectly in The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed.
From the moment you start up the experience, the world is brought to life with precision and care. The sound of the waves crashing against the beach, the sound of your feet crunching on sand as you move, and even the sense of loneliness that spreads over you as you explore the opening moments of the game all help to paint a picture that’s easy to get lost within. The ability to teleport forward, but also explore the immediate area—crouching and even crawling to explore all the nooks and crannies—helps make the props around the world feel incredible.
In Call of the Starseed, players take on the role of Alex, who sets off on the beach in search of his sister; he believes she found something of great importance. From there you’ll explore the area, listen to old cassette tapes, and use things like crudely drawn maps to interact with the environment and find your way around. Side note: the sense of exploration is drawn even deeper as you move through the world affixed to this new reality by a wonderful underscore composed by Jeremy Soule.
Everything about Call of the Starseed emits an 80s sci-fi movie feel, and as someone who grew up watching those kind of flicks, it was an absolute blast to explore. Additionally, the storytelling is well-paced and helps to push you along without ever feeling overbearing. On top of that, the visuals look great, and even the small things—like water in your hand, and fire catching onto a piece of paper when it is held over a flame—help to push the level of presence even higher.
I could go on for ages about how great The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed is. If you want to experience what true presence in virtual reality feels like, then Cloudhead Games is waiting to show you. I can only hope that the excellent story-telling and sense of presence continue throughout the entire series, as it really shows just how good virtual reality can be, and how the sense of immersion that it offers is so much higher than what non-virtual reality games have to offer.
The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed is available on Viveport.