Available to purchase now, Crashed Lander is the definition of an ‘indie’ title. Not necessarily in respect to the way in which it was developed – though this too is a observer of the trends of that same label – but in the fact that it’s a unique idea paying homage to the videogames of yesteryear and taking advantage of the technologies that the developer deems worthy of interest. In this case, the Oculus Rift.
Crashed Lander can be played on a traditional 2D screen, but doing so would be missing the point. The videogame has clearly been developed with virtual reality (VR) gaming at the forefront of it’s design and it makes a good argument for third-person gameplay in a similar fashion to Lucky’s Tale. It is, however, less likely to be promoted as a poster child for VR than Playful Corp.’s cartoon fox and as such Brain Blinks has done well to recruit the existing Oculus Rift owners as a key audience. It may be comparatively small when considering console gamers or Steam’s profile, but it’s a solid base with which to launch a pocket-money priced VR experience.
The videogame itself is openly compared to the likes of Lunar Lander and Space Taxi by the developer. The idea of the campaign is to fly your craft between landing pads under the strict control of time and damage limitations. The control is intentionally obtuse; not in the same fashion as Surgeon Simulator 2013, but enough to make your flight path erratic at times. Wrestling with this on a control pad is challenge enough, and VRFocus would very much advise against attempting to use the meta-game of Twister that is the keyboard control scheme.
The merit of Crashed Lander beyond being an enjoyable if often frustrating idle time-waster is in the attention to detail. All of the information the player will require – pads successfully landed, time limit, direction of next pad – is available on your vehicle itself, and the variety of environment designs means that every level can throw a curve ball at the player; an unexpected challenge that manages to keep the videogame fresh beyond the few hours that at first seems the limit of it’s entertainment factor. Indeed, Crashed Lander packs in plenty of content in addition to it’s main campaign – Ring Runner mode, multiple high score charts and hidden objects in each level – to ensure that it’s not a disposable piece of software. At this stage in the life-cycle of modern VR, that’s surely enough to find it an keen audience.
Crashed Lander is unlikely to astound: it is a familiar videogame experience delivered to a VR audience with the intention of being fun rather than rocking the boat. But in that it also achieves a greater standard than many existing Oculus Rift experiences: it’s a videogame that warrants player investment. There’s no simulator sickness, no obtrusive design and no issues with the field of view. Crashed Lander is a great example of how to deliver a VR videogame, even if that videogame doesn’t attempt anything new beyond VR.