The game Alcove (developed by Virtual Reality game studio Blicksoft) is an indie, first-person exploration game. It’s available for purchase at the Oculus store for.
In this review, I will talk about my experience playing Alcove so far, including what I think of the game itself(tl;dr “it’s pretty cool”), how well it works (I’ll touch on the game controller too), and if I think it might be worth your buck.
At this point in time, there are no reviews of Alcove available online (at least not that I could find) so, as always… here I am!I approached the game with low expectations since it’s an indie title made by a relatively small team, but I was hoping for good things because of its price point.
A cool feature that deserves mentioning in Alcove is the ability to save in different, non-standard locations throughout the map. The in-game excuse for this is… well, there isn’t one. The game doesn’t try to explain why you can save in different spots, it just lets you do it. While this gesture is rather trivial, I think it’s quite fitting for the game’s general mood and playstyle.
Alcove has no clear end; the game doesn’t end when you reach some sort of goal or solve a puzzle. The idea is that you’re supposed to “simply” wander around and enjoy the architecture.
When the game starts, you wake up in an alcove (there’s your name!) surrounded by grass and soil. From the alcove, you can look around and admire your surroundings. There’s also a box in front of you with a bunch of knick-knacks inside (a poster, a stone, a leaf), but it doesn’t seem to accomplish anything beyond looking pretty. Unfortunately, this is pretty much all there is to do at the moment. The box doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, there’s nothing else to interact with, and the only thing you can do is walk around a bit.
At this point, I was a little disappointed. I was expecting something a tad more challenging from this small-team indie game. After all, it has been developed for VR so it should’ve had some special, VR-exclusive mechanics and/or gimmicks. The only thing I was able to do at this point was to look around and admire the atmosphere.
Alcove is a very relaxing experience. It has a calm atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re taking a stroll through your garden on a sunny day. There’s nothing that catches your attention just yet, but there’s still something very calming about the game. The music is also pretty nice and sets the mood.
While I liked what Alcove was trying to do with its relaxed, casual atmosphere, it didn’t feel very immersive at first. For example, if you look down towards your feet you’ll see a pair of legs and arms, but there’s no body attached to them. The fact that the game world looks like an illustration (with flat geometry) also makes it feel less immersive than some other games I’ve played (which have more complex geometry).
I think this is because VR doesn’t look so good from a top-down perspective. If you’re looking down on the game world, it makes it seem smaller than it actually is, and that can break immersion.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that there was more to this game than meets the eye. I started exploring my surroundings and quickly stumbled upon an open door. This led me outside (no loading screens), where I was able to admire some mountains and hills in the distance.
A few minutes later, I started noticing that there were more items for me to collect around the map than just the ones in that starting box. There are 9 of them in total, scattered around the world (or maybe multiple worlds… this hasn’t been figured out yet). Of course, collecting these items is completely optional.
After I had collected 3 of them (the stone, the leaf, and the poster), I looked around for a while to see if there was anything else worth mentioning. There wasn’t…
So it’s time for me to talk about Alcove’s shortcomings (it wouldn’t be a review without it).
The graphics are bland and the geometry is pretty basic. The textures used for the ground look like they’re from a mobile game, and I would’ve preferred something more detailed (e.g. rocks, trees, grass patches on the ground, etc.). Another thing that bothered me was that some of the items you can pick up make a loud noise when you grab them, which breaks the tranquil atmosphere. In my opinion, those items shouldn’t make any sound.
Finally, as I mentioned before, at first Alcove doesn’t seem very rewarding or challenging. The player isn’t given much to do right from the start and there’s nothing that makes exploring worth it atthis point. Sure, you can admire the view, but that just wasn’t enough to keep me interested at this point.
It’s possible that I haven’t encountered everything Alcove has to offer yet (there are still another 8 items for me to find), so there might be more to it later on. If so, I’ll update this review accordingly.
So far, Alcove is just another casual game that doesn’t seem very interesting at the moment. It looks nice and has a soothing atmosphere, but there isn’t much to it yet (at this point). Hopefully, the devs will add more content to the game in future updates because right now it feels like you can finish exploringthe world in just a couple of minutes.
Note: Alcove is still in early access, so the problems I’ve encountered might be fixed later on. It seems that most people have been enjoying it so far, though! If you can look past its shortcomings and want to support an up-and-coming VR studio, give it a shot.