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I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to have this much fun when I decided to preview Sweet Escape VR by Monster VR out of Irvine, CA. While this is just an Early Access game on Steam right now, Sweet Escape has the potential to be a really popular game. When you consider the company was only founded this year in 2016, their first game out of the gate is really making quite a first impression!
The game mechanic
Sweet Escape is a very simple concept. It’s a game where you have to climb from the starting line to the finish line. That’s it! However, as we all know from playing games, it’s not the concept that grabs us and keeps us coming back for more, it’s the execution. The execution of this game is absolutely flawless and really fun at the same time.
You start out each level when you get the green light, which means the timer starts running. Your goal is to get to the finish line as fast as possible. While it’s true, this is a climbing game, albeit on huge pieces of candy, I found it way more fun to hurl myself through the air using what they call “an advanced move”. Had it not been for the perfectly crafted tutorial mode, I might not have known about the whole flying bit.
Much like the locomotive technique used in The Art of Fight, you literally grab on to the piece of candy in front of you and swing yourself forward. The developer really nailed the physics because I noticed the harder I flung myself, the further I flew in the air. If you’re not too careful, and you miss the next piece of candy to grab on to, you fall to the ground and start off at the last check point. This is one part I didn’t like about the game, and possibly something they can fix before it comes out: even if you hurl past a checkpoint to the giant lollipop at the finish line, the game won’t register you finished because you need to physically go past the check points in the game. They do, however, give you a handy arrow on your right hand to show you where the next check point is, but that still didn’t alleviate my disappointment when I got the the finish line and the timer kept going.
At the end of each level you’re given your time and shown the various times for a gold, silver, and bronze medals (although you don’t actually get any medals or rewards).
It didn’t take too long to figure out how to quickly beat all 7 levels with a gold medal, so the game was a bit short, which probably accounts for the very reasonable price of $4.99. At the time of this preview, the game is discounted to 20% to $3.99 for Steam’s annual Fall Sale which lasts until November 29th. After reading the developer’s blog, they plan on adding more levels to the game until they reach their ultimate price of $29.99 which means if you buy it now, you’re going to get all the future updates for free. Considering how much fun the game is, I’d definitely take advantage of it!
While there weren’t any other players in the game when I tested it, the goal of multiplayer is to get to the finish line faster than everyone else. From the videos, it looks like everybody is playing in the same level so you’re literally climbing over, under, and past people on the way to the giant lollipop in the sky at the finish line.
I noticed while flying to my next piece of candy, when I missed reaching it by mere inches, I’d reach out and try and grab it but I saw the boundary lines of the Vive system pop up so I knew if I reached any further I’d be punching a hole in my TV or plowing through my living room window. So, you might want to take note of that before you accidentally get yourself kicked out of your own home just because you don’t want to fall in the pit and have the timer keep running on you! It’s not the end of the world if you fall, but like I said, the timer keeps running. You do, however, have the option of pressing the menu button to start over at the beginning which resets the timer.
Before I started playing I watched the video and thought I might get sick, but because of the locomotion system of pulling yourself through the level, it doesn’t even come close to making you queasy at all. Those of you with weak stomachs have nothing to worry about.
Even though it’s way past Halloween, they kept the Halloween themed levels in, which I really appreciated because it extended my playing time with additional levels. Even though I was playing by myself, I was still aiming for the gold medal timing and found myself sweating through my shirt and, of course, the Vive headset. For those of you that play as long as I do, you might want to try picking up the memory foam replacement cushion so your perspiration doesn’t sink in to the foam that comes stock with the Vive. I didn’t think I was going to sweat as much, but the game really draws you in and has you trying to beat the level as fast as possible, so you do move your arms as fast as possible to try and grab that next piece of candy!
Once the final game is released, check back here for an official review, but I can tell you already, it’s going to be a good one.
Update 11/30/2016: correct the company’s official Twitter account