Technolust is a VR Narrative Experience from IRIS VR exclusively for the Oculus Rift. Following on from a popular Kickstarter campaign back in 2014 and being Greenlit for Steam, Technolust is available to download from Oculus Home and Steam now.
Technolust is set in a cyberpunk world where corporations now rule instead of governments. In this narrative, you are a silent hacker who is fighting back against the oppression that these big businesses have brought down on you and the people of the world, or at least this is what I could gather from the story. This world is dark, gritty and technology seems interconnected with everything around you. Hacking then becomes an essential part of the story and a way to stick it to the man and show you are a non-conformist.
The game starts when you are ‘jacked in’ to a cyber world which I would describe as MS-DOS meets Tron. Your character is just another nameless, faceless, voiceless, bodiless character. VR is supposed to be about immersion but it’s hard to get that when you feel that you are just playing as a floating camera. You float along until you find a file sent by one of your hacking friends which neither of you should have and after you receive it you pop back into the real world. From here your adventure really begins.
You’re told the story through videos by the other game characters. These are then real actors playing the role, not just voice over or computer generated characters and the actors playing each role do perform exceptionally. There are other NPC’s scattered around the world, some of which are robots that seemed based on Star Wars C3PO. They are very helpful and polite but seem a little dim. I felt the NPC’s were just placed around to fill in the empty streets and try to bring life to the world. Plus, with every one of them being rooted to the one spot it doesn’t help to convince you that there is more going on in the city than just your story. The graphics work in the game for the most part. While you are in the darker areas such as inside buildings or in the city at night they are fine, however whenever you go out into brighter areas the lower quality really shows.
Hacking is handled as a third person mini-game where you control an avatar that seems slightly constipated as it waddles around. However, that aside, I found these levels enjoyable as you go around shooting red enemies and collecting key cards to break through programs. Also, you come across Arcade machines and these also have their own individual games which include a 3D space invaders game and a cube version of Tetris where you stack blocks on all sides of a cube. I was impressed with how polished these games are and how well they controlled.
I’m all for games that don’t take you by the hand and guide you through the story. When you must overcome a challenge this is great. However, when you find yourself getting a little bored or detached from the story then this can become frustrating, not knowing what to do next or where to go. A few times I just really wanted to move on to the next section and didn’t want to wander around trying to figure out what to do next.
I could probably fill this review writing about the amount of Easter eggs that I came across and indeed the ones that I didn’t get. There were nods to movies like Total Recall, Robocop, The Matrix and the most obvious being Blade Runner. I always enjoy a nod to a movie or a reference here and there, but it felt at times that the story was suited more to the reference than for the sake of the plot. The end of the story left me confused more than anything and even after giving it a bit of thought I’m still foggy with what happened at the end. I felt no satisfaction or real conclusion to the story and for the most part I really didn’t care.
I want to be immersed in a VR world where I can get caught up with everything around me. VR is somewhere I want to spend time but unfortunately I just wanted to get through Technolust. Even though after the credits rolled I feel I may have missed some things I won’t find myself longing for this world or have any reason to go back. I can get over a poor narrative in a shooter or action game when I have lots to do as it still fills my time with fun. On the other hand, when the game is solely based on narrative you want a story with emotion, to feel angry when you have been doubled crossed, or a terrible loss when a friend dies. Without all this the game becomes a bit of a walking simulator or in this case a floating simulator. I wouldn’t recommend anyone not to play Technolust. Maybe it’s right for you but for €19.99, I would want a bit more bang for my buck.
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