VR has had a prominent amount of space on the show floor this year at PAX, and one of those titles is Symphony of the Machine, by Stirfire Studios. A game developed in the depths of the 2016 Global Game Jam, bearing the theme of mechanised weather.
Symphony of the Machine adopts an interesting interpretation of traditional puzzle games, whereby the challenge is not always in discerning the link, but instead: merging, diverging and manipulating light correctly.
Inspired by the theme of rituals, Symphony of the Machine aims to represent a mechanical rain storm. Set in a dry, dying world, the player has the power to control and manipulate the elements. This mechanic is represented through directing lasers into the 4 different elements: Wind, Rain, Earth, and Sun. Different combinations create varying weather patterns in order to solve puzzles, and return the environment to a lush green. Throughout the demo, this process involved using a series of laser splitters and mirrors, to direct the light in the correct way. Though, the full game promises many more tools to use.
It was clear even during my short time with the game, that it was heading somewhere challenging. The trick comes not in just realising the correct combination of elements, but in determining the correct laser sequence, and executing on that knowledge.
As the term ‘Symphony’ in the name applies, the game has a strong focus towards the score. The music is designed to relax and sink the player into the experience. In fact, the music is so central to Symphony of the Machine’s experience that a campaign has taken a back seat at this point. There is no dialogue, and there is no story. I simply did not receive enough time with the game to determine whether this ‘works’, although, without a story players may struggle to find the motivation to persevere through the puzzles.
Additionally, whether or not it was PAX show floor difficulties, or it was too soon in development, the tracking became a hassle. The game revolves around lining up lasers, but when it becomes an issue of finickily rotating and positioning instruments, such that you miss the target by mere centimetres, it is very frustrating.
Symphony of the Machine will be heading to Steam VR, and PlayStation VR in Q1 next year.