It’s always interesting to see old genres learn new tricks. Stealth — with all its methodical manoeuvring and frantic flights — might seem like an odd fit for Valve and HTC’s only slightly mobile virtual reality face squid, but that’s just forced the folks behind Budget Cuts to get creative.
So, a few things set this one apart. Let’s break them down:
1) It’s pretty stylish!
2) You can walk around to a limited degree courtesy of the Vive letting you use, you know, your actual legs, but the rest of your movement is handled by portals. A clever way around VR’s mobility issues.
3) Unlike in Valve’s frequently methodical puzzler Portal, Budget Cuts turns portal-ing into a rapid fire thing. THROW A KNIFE. FIRE OFF TWO PORTALS. DISAPPEAR. BREATHE FINALLY. You’re like some sort of stealth assassin ghost. You can even toss a portal in plain view of an enemy, pop out briefly, close the portal and then strike from your original location while the enemy’s blinking in confusion. That is to say, you can be a distraction for yourself.
5) Throwing knives in VR with my own hands? Hardly the most imaginative use of VR ever, but OK fine it looks rad. Sign me up.
6) Are you ready to slam dunk a robot right into the trash? Are you ready to be like, “Dead robot, you are garbage. This is your new home. BOOM, LOSER.” I am ready to do those things.
7) “Oh, and screw your drawers, books and binders too, dead robot. I’m just gonna knock all that trash on the floor, because it’s not like you can do anything to stop me. You live in the trash now. It’s your new home, like I said earlier.”
Budget Cuts is still early, but it looks like exactly the sort of thing I want out of the first wave of VR games. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of attempts at “game/genre you loved, but in VR (!!!)”, with all the shoehorning that entails. This game, on the other hand, looks like it’s doing a solid job of considering the form, space and limitations of VR — and working within them to create something functional and exciting. I’m interested to see where it goes.
And hey, maybe with every purchase they could include, like, a coupon to knock a dollar or two hundred off the price of a VR headset. Because, you know, budget cuts and stuff. Please? I’m not looking forward to choosing between VR and eating.