Puzzle games are one genre that seems to have really benefited from the advantages of VR. Having two hands and being able to fully manipulate objects can really come in handy (no pun intended) for both the creation and execution of puzzles. 18 Floors sees you trapped inside of rooms, having to solve complicated puzzles get out of them and into the next room. Is it worth traveling these floors, or should you stay on the ground?
The story 18 Floors' store page claims to tell is one of galactic revenge and conspiracy. You'll play as Andrea, the Queen of Naoh Star. After her home planet was destroyed, she goes into hiding on Earth. Eventually, she stumbles upon a "secret time-bending black hole" known as 18 Floors that, if solved, will allow her to uncover her true identity and unravel the galactic mystery. How much of this is in the game? The answer is exactly none. There's no context at all to what you're doing. You just wake up in each room, solve the puzzle, then eventually hit a "to be continued" screen with no story having even been attempted.
This feels sort of dishonest, and it's far from the only part of 18 Floors that comes off this way. Take the name and premise of the game: 18 Floors. There are 18 floors of puzzles and you have to solve them all. You go between floors on an elevator that, indeed, has 18 buttons. The problem? Despite advertising a finished game, there are actually only two floors available. Once you finish the second floor and hit the button to move to the third, you get the aforementioned "to be continued" screen. The developers claim they'll have floors 3 and 4 done as free DLC before the year is out, but it makes me wonder why they consider this a full release. Sony still hasn't instituted an Early Access-style program, but even the Steam release advertises itself as a completed game.
This really sucks, as 18 Floors is actually a good puzzle game when you get down to it. Each of the game's two puzzles brakes down further into smaller affairs, each one giving you plenty to do. The first room took place in an abandoned workshop and featured five different boxes that required some work to open. One was as simple as pulling it open and hitting a few buttons, while another saw me analyzing the setting to match up some vague hints with items in the environments. Each of these boxes, when solved, lead to an even bigger puzzle that involves light beams and shadows.
The second room is equally smart, taking place on a train. Here you have three different smaller rooms to look into, once again giving you smaller puzzles leading to a big one. You'll examine a painting for hidden codes, solve a strange orb puzzle inside of a suitcase, smash open a door with a hammer, and more. It took me about an hour to solve both puzzles, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. I was all ready for more and then I hit that abrupt wall.
This is really what hurts the most about 18 Floors. All the ingredients are here for a fantastic VR puzzle game. This is the exact kind of game I'd love to see in VR, and it'd probably have rivaled Statik as one of my favorite VR games... if I felt like the game was actually done. It really hurts that I genuinely can't say there's a finished product here.
At least what I saw was pretty, and built a good atmosphere. Each room felt uniquely designed and was full of little hints to help you solve the puzzles. Creepy sounds and a subtle soundtrack always kept me looking over my shoulder, worried something would jump out at me. By the end, nothing did, other than the ending. That was abrupt, and it still bothers me.
In the end, that's the impression I'm coming away with here. I really, truly, believe 18 Floors has an excellent puzzle game in its future if all 18 floors actually get finished. However, I have difficulty recommending it in its current state unless you enter with the expectation of it being an Early Access game. Its technically not, but it should have been.
18 Floor's two puzzles are fantastic, and left me wondering where on Earth the rest of the game is.
- Two Fantastic Puzzles
- Good Atmosphere
- No Story
- Sudden Cliffhanger
- Not Really Finished