Steel Wool Studios has released a free demo for their new game Bounce, a VR physics puzzle game. Using a variety of platforms, bounce pads, and other objects, you need to guide a ball from where it appears out of the ceiling to a glowing pad without letting it touch the floors, walls, or any other obstacle along the way. This demo contains four different levels that demonstrate the kind of range that might be expected from the full title. Beginning with a simple tutorial you’re taught how to teleport around, create and destroy pieces, and literally start the ball rolling.
Bounce is a game of trial and error, each level you start you’re clearly able to see where you are beginning and where you need to end up. The difficulty comes from taking into account what types of objects you have to move your ball, or if there are any hoops you need to get the ball through, and still have your ball make it to the end. Luckily each time you send off the ball it creates a trail behind it so you can see what path it took exactly and what happened that you weren’t expecting. This allows you to remember exactly what happened to your ball so you can make any adjustments to pieces before starting it again. While you might already get stuck adjusting a piece for a lengthy period of time the line is able to show how much closer you’re getting with each attempt.
Controls in a VR title are extremely important, and there are plenty of cases where it can make or break the experience. In the case of Bounce, Steel Wool Studios seem to have it down. Teleportation is a point and click action, allowing you to zip around a stage with ease, cycling through and spawning pieces is controlled with a single thumb but where Bounce really shines above a lot of other VR games is that grabbing, rotating, and placing pieces works flawlessly. If your hand is in contact with a bounce pad it will become slightly green and allow you to move it, there is no period where you need to find a “sweet spot” to be able to interact with the object. The only issue present with the controls was to delete a piece you need to pick it up with your right hand and place it over your left, if you’re attempting to only place the piece to your left and your hand gets in the way then you will need to conjure up a new one for yourself.
The game maintains a clean and comical art style from the first moment your ball makes a happy noise when it sees you, to the robots that watch you as you complete levels. Walls and items are all simple shapes with edges and corners that glow different colors, this paired with the synth-heavy soundtrack gives the game an extremely futuristic feel.
While the demo at the moment is quite short it shows great promise for what might be a fun and addictive physics based puzzle game for the HTC Vive. One issue that might face Bounce is that it’s not uncommon for a puzzle game to face is if puzzles are too similar to one another giving the player a feel that the experience becomes stale and repetitive.
Bounce was previewed on an HTC Vive on PC via Steam with a free demo downloaded from the storefront. It will be released on November 29th of this year.