Retro-style VR shooter Compound is out today on Meta Quest as its lone developer readies for the future.
Compound was released into early access in 2018 on Steam and updates from developer Bevan McKechnie brought it all the way through full release in 2022. It carries an “overwhelmingly positive” rating over more than 1,500 reviews on Steam, with its colorful art style and ’90s inspirations part of the appeal for a supportive fan base built over the course of development. Now available on Quest 2 and Quest Pro, Compound is now being discovered by players in standalone VR.
Compound’s ’90s Inspirations
“Much of the inspiration comes from the bright pixel art of early ’90s games I played on my ancient 286: Day of The Tentacle, Commander Keen, and Wolfenstein 3D. There is also a very heavy influence from the Build Engine trinity of Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and Shadow Warrior,” McKechnie responded over email. “As for gameplay, many of the mechanics were directly inspired by the 2D top-down action roguelite, Nuclear Throne. The excellent Hotdogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades inspired me with its very physical and satisfying reloading and weapon handling and I was interested in adapting that to a more fast paced setting. There are even a few nods to some of my favourite ’80s B-grade movies and cartoons.”
For those unfamiliar, Compound is described as “a randomized, rogue-lite, free-roaming shooter for Virtual Reality veterans. Duck and dodge around enemy fire in a tough-as-nails retro FPS with multiple locomotion options. Prepare to die – a lot – until you are good enough to reach the heart of The Corporation and take back what belongs to everyone…”
McKechnie wrote that as “soon as I got my hands on the first widely available consumer headset in 2016 I got to work on making prototypes. After a few false starts, the base of what would eventually become COMPOUND developed organically as I experimented with combining gameplay elements that seemed fun to me, personally. I don’t like to overdesign too early as I think it can stifle the process of naturally discovering the ‘fun factor’ while putting things together, but I was constantly experimenting with what felt right, what to expand upon, what needed removal, etc. Having satisfying weapons and enemies was always a given, though.”
Porting From PC VR To Quest
We’ll be curious to see how Compound resonates with Quest buyers and whether the developer is able to reach a much larger audience than it found in PC VR.
“I really don’t know what to expect. I’m aware that my game is niche, and might not appeal to some kinds of players, but I really hope anyone who does like the same sorts of games I do knows about COMPOUND,” McKechnie wrote. “The PC version had the benefit of a long early access period during which there was a great deal of community interaction. I think that did a lot to drive a minor cult following over the long term. I also think PC gamers are a bit more open to indie and retro style games. Then again, the Quest version has the potential to reach so many more players due to sheer numbers and popularity of mobile VR, and COMPOUND will arrive as a fully complete game with the benefit of 6 years of polish in the public eye, which is not common. Your guess is as good as mine! While I won’t try to make any predictions that would probably age very poorly anyway, I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope for a roaring success.”
Updates & New Platforms For Compound
As for what’s next, McKechnie didn’t say what other platforms Compound might come to but teased “I’m sure most people reading this can come up with a few obvious guesses.”
“After that I’ll look into back-porting any improvements made during the transitions to other platforms such as optimisations, accessibility options, and possibly localisations. I’m sure I’ll sneak in some new features along the way, but until the time comes I can’t really say what exactly those might be,” McKechnie wrote.
More “retro style VR shooting action” is likely from McKechnie after Compound is done, and “I actually already made the next generation of pixel renderer that takes the style of COMPOUND and cranks it up to the next level with a host of visual and performance improvements. It looks great and I can’t wait to show it off. I also want to try out making a hand-crafted single player campaign with moments of slower exploration balanced with a lot of intense and violent combat. We’ll have to see where that leads, but I’ll definitely be showing off prototypes early and often as I think real feedback is vital.”