Arca's Path VR is a refreshing change of pace for virtual reality
Virtual Reality is brilliant, but it's rarely relaxing. Stick on a VR headset and in a couple of minutes you can be shooting zombies in the face, crawling through claustrophobic air ducts on a mutant infested spaceship or even getting properly, physically sweaty as you swing lightsabers at coloured blocks to the thumping base of hardcore dance tracks.
Arca's Path VR then is something quite different and through a unique control scheme and a watercolour-like presentation that would give Bob Ross a run for his money, it proves that not all VR experiences have to be thrill-rides.
In this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner you can see me play through the first five levels of the game, all whilst ruining the lovely chill atmosphere with my usual, nonsensical commentary.
The aim is as simple as the presentation - roll a ball from one end of a twisting track to the other without falling off the edge into the abyss below. In the first few levels there are walls in place to stop you from tumbling but as the game progresses more and more hazards are introduced and light puzzle elements come into play.
Even with these added pressures the game still feels quite relaxing to play and I put that down, in part, to the hands free control scheme. Arca's Path utilises head tracking so you control the game with your gaze alone. By looking ahead or behind the ball, you effectively lead it on a leash and you can slow it down, speed it up and turn corners, all by using gentle tilts of the head.
The clever thing about this control scheme is that it works across all VR devices. From more complex units like the Rift and the Vive, through to mobile VR like the Samsung Gear VR, the game is instantly playable for anyone - as long as they have a head.
Playing a game without a controller is certainly something that takes a few minutes to get used to, mainly because it feels so unnatural to not be holding one in your hands. I played Arca's Path for the video above while I was holding a DualShock controller, even though I knew I didn't need to. Why? Because a life time of playing games has told me you need a controller to play them! It wasn't until I continued my adventures a while later that I left the controller on the table and let my arms relax by my side.
Once I'd cast aside these mental shackles, Arca's Path started to click with me a lot more. I soon learnt that I had a surprising amount of control over the ball. Games of a similar ilk like Marble Madness or Super Monkey Ball can be quite frustrating but Arca's Path allows you to take your time and explore the levels without the pressure of a time limit. This means you can be more delicate with your approach to each level and once you realise that, that's when the chilled out nature of the game comes to the forefront.
If you want to experience Arca's Path for yourself, it's out on December 4th on Oculus Rift, Oculus GO, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Focus, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and Microsoft-Windows Mixed Reality.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian's VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I get silly with Kona VR, Salary Man Escape, The Exorcist: Legion VR, Killing Floor: Incursion, The Persistence, Detached, Pixel Ripped 1989, Rec Royale, Arizona Sunshine, Transference , Zone of The Enders 2, Downward Spiral: Horus Station, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Evasion, Free-roam Zombie Survival, Home Sweet Home, Paper Dolls, Legends Of Catalonia: The Land Of Barcelona and Beat Saber.