We are still in the very early days of VR gaming as something more than demonstrations. But with Google Cardboard, you can play actual VR games right now. While the number of big, massive experiences is not huge, there’s a few hidden gems and games that put a new perspective on familiar classics to be had among the selection of Google Cardboard VR games.
Easily the coolest VR game you can get right now, Caaardboard! is a version of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA! by Dejobaan Studios, which already was an excellent mobile game. This is a game of free-falling, where you fly around obstacles in your rapid descent, and rack up high scores by flying through gates on the way down. It’s an intense experience!
Now, strap into Google Cardboard, and suddenly Caaaaardboard! becomes an absurdly exhilarating thing. It’s a ton of fun in 2D, but in 3D? That’s a transcendent experience, and if you have an Android phone and a Cardboard headset, you need to check this out.
This VR shoot ’em up starts off with the meta-referential line of how weird it is to see yourself in third person. Which isn’t wrong, it does feel odd! But you get used to it, as you fly around gorgeous space environments, blasting all enemies that get in your way. Having the third-person perspective does allow you to get a sense of place and perspective, particularly with the objects that fly past you. When you fly through the holes of a giant space structure, it’s a really cool moment. The game itself has fantastic production values for a free VR game, and is quite gorgeous.
Nival, a publisher of several games for mobile, has managed to deliver a nifty little game that manages to combine a fascinating 3D virtual reality experience with a bit of edutainment. You race down tubes, trying to collect materials to heal the person whose body you are inside, getting speed-ups to go faster and avoiding the slowdowns. You can play this outside of VR, but playing in VR mode gives you a really fascinating sense of speed and presence that you don’t get otherwise with the game. You might just learn something about how the human body works and how viruses affect it. If you’re strapped for cash, the free version of the game, InMind, might be more your speed.
This game is actually a fantastic example of the strengths of VR gaming. 3D brick-breakers have certainly existed before, but they were always seemingly missing some element of playability. Thankfully, Proton Pulse delivers it by placing the experience in VR, and giving you a sense depth and perspective that goes a really long way toward making the game fun and playable. Angling shots requires some practice since you’re used to 2D brick breakers. But it’s still a lot better than pretty much any other take on 3D Breakout games, because the depth, along with smooth gyroscopic controls, gives you the reference point you need to properly enjoy this.
VR and space games are a natural fit for each other. The vast openness of space translates well not only to the depth that VR provides, but also for perceiving free-floating objects in space flying around you. What End Space does particularly well is to allow you to play a game where you can look all around you, shooting enemy ships down. The games that allow you to play in 360 degrees, and even from top to bottom like End Space does, are some of the strongest VR experiences. And because the zero gravity of space allows for natural scenarios for players to explore what they can do with VR.