Gargoyle Doyle offers an intriguing experience crossing mixed reality museums with VR storytelling. Here's our initial impressions.
More of a 360° movie than game, this project focuses on Doyle, a self-important gargoyle living on a French cathedral who believes he’s destined for greatness, swapping between MR and VR segments.
I played across a roomscale setup lasting roughly 40 mins, using a Quest Pro with color passthrough and hand tracking controls. The experience begins inside a virtual museum filled with exhibits, pushing buttons on pedestals to hear an exhibit's explanation. It’s a nice approach that effectively demonstrates the potential of an MR museum, though that's not Gargoyle Doyle's main focus.
The model cathedral is where VR story segments begin, but Gargoyle Doyle's focus on narrative over gameplay means interactivity doesn’t extend beyond pressing virtual buttons in the MR museum. This makes the VR side feel more like a short movie than a game, which is fine thanks to an entertaining storyline.
Split into four segments chronicling this French cathedral’s history, initial plans to place Doyle at the cathedral’s centre are soon ruined after a bell comes loose and damages him. Relegated to a back alcove, Doyle becomes highly resentful. Stuck two feet away from him is the energetic Chet, a decorative metal rain gutter that accompanies him across the centuries.
It’s a fun narrative that doesn’t overstay its welcome and there's some enjoyable character dynamics between these clashing personalities. Some good but occasionally self-referential humor helps maintain a lighter tone, boosted by lively performances from Jason Isaacs (Doyle), Haley Joel Osment (Chet) and T’Nia Miller.
My biggest concern so far is the uneven visual quality. The main characters look good on Quest hardware but comparatively, the human designs look odd and feel particularly rough. Still, this could change before the final version. While that particular point wasn't addressed, director Ethan Shaftel told UploadVR in an email that “new animated sequences” will be added to the experience in the coming months. I’ll be interested to see what changes.
Gargoyle Doyle was shown at Venice Immersive in Italy. When asked about a wider launch, Shaftel confirms “multi-user and home versions” are planned with a 2024 release window.