When I first got an email asking if I’d like to book a demo with Epyka, I thought the game must be made specifically for me. Not just because it stars Jack, a helpful canine companion, though that is a major draw, but also because of its narrative, non-violent focus.
Not to mention that it looks gorgeous.
Though the demo had me getting to grips with the HTC Vive controllers for the first time (the game is aiming to launch on Oculus and Vive in the autumn of 2018), it felt straight-forward and intuitive to move across the island beach, overshadowed by a huge bleached stone tower, eventually stepping inside.
After standing on a pressure plate and pointing Jack over to its twin using the motion-controlled instructions, we were whisked upwards through the tower (a dizzying experience in VR, to be sure, but nothing in the game seemed to threaten motion sickness). Here, the puzzles began in earnest; invisible runes viewed through a special lens were the key to opening a locked chest. In all honesty, the developers ended up giving more hints than the dog, but his presence was nonetheless a welcome one.
An Island of Secrets
After figuring it out, there played a cutscene that gave some hints at the game’s narrative – a mysterious woman, a warning of danger, and a huge lava monster.
Epyka promises secrets galore for the player (embodying one Doctor Scott Hudson) and Jack to puzzle out together, forming a bond in the process. The developers told me that they were really proud of the work they’ve done creating Jack’s AI, and making his behaviours feel like those of a real animal, though they confided that they want to put more work into his animations before release. (During my time with the game, I didn’t notice anything particularly off about them.)
And as for the name? In game, it’s the name of the island, but really it just comes from the Italian word for “epic” – epica – but with some letters changed for flair.
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