I'm not quite a VR convert. I get sick easily. Yet, if one game has made an extremely compelling case that VR can work brilliantly, it's Dead Hungry. The game appeared earlier this month at BitSummit in Kyoto, but the line was too damn long, and I wasn't able to check it out until I swung by Q-Games this week.
The object is simple: You must cook burgers, fries and pizzas for hungry zombies. If you feed them, they turn into regular folks. But they are picky! If you overcook and burn the burgers, which is easy to do if you're not careful, the zombies won't be placated.
By stacking tasty burgers with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and even extra patties, you score more points against the oncoming horde. It's part time management and part tower defence mixed in with a lot of Typing of the Dead. The result is rather brilliant.
The clip below was filmed against a green screen, so you can see the world I'm in. However, obviously, I get a first-person view of the zombies coming up to the burger shop, demanding burgers.
Holy shit, I was focused on making burgers.
The controls and the gameplay are incredibly instinctive. You're cooking burgers, so right away, things like picking up burgers and putting them on the stove are second nature. The game cleverly creates a sense of space. You feel as though you are a cramped burger shack kitchen, so you naturally don't move more than a few paces. And because you are so focused on a relatively stationary task (here, making burgers), you don't get sick. I didn't at least, and I'm usually not great at dealing with VR.
Q-Games has figured out what works for them, it seems. Create a sense of tangible space, ground players in said space and then add entertaining gameplay. Pulling it off is deceptively simple.
Dead Hungry does have a wonderful sense of space. Nearly everything in the burger shack was interactive. The clock, the salt shaker and even the light bulb can all either be put into burgers or thrown at the zombies. One nice touch was that taking out the light bulb causes the kitchen to go dark, leaving the setting sun as the only light source.
— Dylan (@dylancuthbert) July 8, 2016
Here is Sony's Shuhei Yoshida checking out the game.
What makes Dead Hungry work so well is that at its core, this is still a game. It's not a tech demo or some kind of VR experiment, but a real game with real, clearly defined goals.
Dead Hungry came out of Q-Games's skunkworks. It looks different from the stylish PixelJunk games and, according to Q-Games head Dylan Cuthbert won't get released under that label. Dead Hungry is more grindhouse than arthouse with such an arcadey feel that it's easy to imagine it existing in a 1990s Japanese game centre.
According to Cuthbert, Q-Games is going to add more levels, and Dead Hungry should be out sometime later this year. The platform is currently TBA. Burgers are always wonderful.