Ares Dragonis’ The Shore VR is out in early access today. The game shows some promise, but the basic VR support itself is unfinished and needs a bit of help to get over the line.
The original version of The Shore released on PC in February 2021. It offers a darkly hypnotic tribute to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, set amongst the bleak remains of an old lighthouse overlooking a beach populated with otherwordly and demonic monsters. The Shore VR isn’t a direct port of that game – it’s actually got new story elements set after the events of the original but still retains the setting and reuses some of the sequences from the original game.
So some of the original’s more fantastic sights, like the rise of a monolithic creature that then stomps through the water in an oddly calming fashion, remain. And they’re indeed amazing to take in in VR – The Shore can be intensely atmospheric, never freeing itself of a deep-rooted uncertainty that eventually tips its characters into madness.
But, even given the early access labeling, it’s tough to recommend the game right now with VR support in its current state unless you’re willing to essentially serve as a game tester. The implementation is, by the developer’s own admission, unfinished.
Many of the issues I’ve experienced after playing the game for an hour come down to basic nitpicking with some quick fixes. Subtitles, for example, sit at the bottom of the lenses when playing on a Rift S, making them very hard to read, and hand placement with the Touch controllers doesn’t feel quite right – it needs to shift a few millimeters or so upwards at the least. Camera shake when monsters would is really uncomfortable and there are graphics that don’t load in properly, like a grey box texture in the game’s menu.
But there are more inherent issues afoot. Puzzle solutions in The Shore often require you to locate a certain object but, at present, there’s no indicator to show you what items you can pick up on a littered desk and what items are static. There are a lot of objects in the game and it’s impossible to tell which you might need later unless you run your hand along the surface spamming the grip button.
Similarly, this means you might run straight past some interactive puzzles without realizing you’re actually meant to do anything with them. The control scheme is also rudimentary, entirely relying on the Touch’s grip button for even basic menu interaction, and some of the visual techniques employed in the flatscreen game don’t translate well to VR, like seeing a strange kind of translucent border where water meets the shore.
Were this a finished product, these would be significant problems. But given the game’s been released in early access, the developer has a few months to identify and fix these issues with the aid of playtesters. Only then could we recommend jumping into The Shore VR for an immersive experience.
You should only consider The Shore VR right now if you’re planning on providing feedback to the developer on its Discord channel, then. This is very much an in-progress release not so much in terms of content (though there’s more of that still to come) as the strength of its VR support. There’s a glimpse of an engrossing experience in what’s here right now, but it needs a fair bit of work to get it up to snuff.