By Chris Melchin / September 12th, 2017
I don’t have a whole lot experience with VR. Aside from briefly using an Oculus Rift at PAX last year, VR games are a novelty that I’ve had very little chance to indulge in. With that in mind I made a point to check out some VR games at PAX West this year, as a matter of personal interest more than anything else. One of these games was Augmented Empire, for the Samsung Gear VR.
Augmented Empire is a turn-based top-down tactics game, similar to XCOM. The main unique thing about is the VR aspect; it puts the player in the position of an overseer of sorts, looking down on the battlefield or play area. Selecting regions is done with motion controls, simply by looking at something to align the reticle with it. Actions are done with the Gear VR controller, which is a remote with a single button on it. The button is used to interact with the selected space, be that by selecting a character, moving, attacking, or examining environmental objects.
The game works well within the limitations of its platform. It restricts its gameplay to simple point-and-click controls, rather than attempting and potentially failing at having more complex controls. The controls work very well for this type of game; they’re nice and intuitive, and don’t feel limited despite their simplicity. The options for what you can do at any given time may be more limited than its console or PC counterparts, but some sacrifices need to be made for playing on the mobile platform. That being said, one of the best things about the game is that it doesn’t feel like a mobile game.
The visuals are surprisingly good, although this type of game isn’t particularly visually demanding to begin with. The game’s world has a sort of cyberpunk-meets-Bioshock style to it, that I would be interested in seeing more of if I had the hardware to play the game myself. It also has a few fairly major names behind it for the voices, including Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek: Voyager and Doug Chockle from The Witcher series, among others.
Unfortunately I understand that Augmented Empire is by nature somewhat limited in its potential audience. It requires a modern Samsung phone as well as the Gear VR headset. However, if you do happen to have those things, the game is out now for $9.99 USD and I would recommend it based on what I played.
Augmented EmpireCoatsinkPAX WestPAX West 2017Samsung Gear VR