What the small team of 10 developers at Stress Level Zero were able to accomplish here is a truly full-featured system of physics-based VR game mechanics that give you nearly complete freedom, ability, and control over your character and environment.
Amazing game, had some of the most fun playing through it.
Would recommend people who are experienced with VR, I was not ready at first to just dive in.
They have achieved the closest thing yet to how I always imagined VR to be: The feeling of being transported inside another world, truly embodying a virtual character in an artificial space.
Level design is inconsistent, varying from excellent/inspired to bland or just sorely lacking.
Graphically it is on a solid foundation (weapons are fantastic) and occasionally looks great but it lacks any real sense of art direction and has iffy performance in certain areas.
Story and Characters
The story, sadly, is simply incomprehensible and poorly told. It feels like there might have been some pretty interesting ideas in there, but they simply never figured out how to express them properly.
There’s hardly any characters in BONEWORKS, and they are all forgettable, unessential, and have zero personality. You probably won’t even remember their names while playing throughout the game, including the main character. Enemies are also as generic as they can be.
The fun of Boneworks is that it is so completely and consistently physical and interactive.
Most VR titles deal heavily in abstraction and only let you interact with a few predetermined items. Boneworks achieves consistency: Everything can be grabbed, pushed, climbed, thrown etc. Its fully realized physics system makes you feel like you are inside an alternate reality. You can walk, sprint, jump, crouch, and clamber up almost anything. Every object can be picked up, stored/holstered, thrown, swung, dropped, etc. NPC’s can be interacted with physically during combat, not just as lifeless ragdolls as in Half Life:Alyx.
It’s amazing! Your character also has weight and momentum. You can sprint to an enemy and hockey-check into them with appropriate force. Guns are not fused to your arm but simply exist as physical objects in the world. You can throw them, holster them, toss them to the other hand, or use them as melee weapons. Almost all of this is totally intuitive. Once you figure out the basic controls, you feel empowered to simply use your hands and arms as you would in the real world.
So, in VR, what does all of this achieve? Immersion. Half Life:Alyx shows how immersive AAA graphics, sound, and highly refined hand interactions can make VR. Unfortunately, some of the limited mechanics in Half Life:Alyx detract from immersion. For example, you feel like you should be able to grab onto a top shelf and pull yourself up to see what’s on top…but you can’t. You can’t climb anything, only ladders. You feel like you should be able to pick up a pipe and hit a zombie with it, you can’t. In Boneworks it’s the opposite. The sometimes janky interactions, weak sound design, and less impressive visuals detract. But the mechanics absolutely enhance immersion because it has such a consistent, high level of interaction with every aspect of the environment that with time the act of playing becomes second-nature. You simply imagine what you want to do and you just act it out. Want to throw your empty gun at the NPC? Want to just throw a punch? Go ahead, it all works. Want to jump over that ledge and grab that rope hanging in the air. Just do it. Amazing.
🟩Pros+Authentic VR experience
+Immersive Physics Engine
+Fun sandbox gameplay
-Too much realism hurt the immersion
-High level of discomfort
The game runs smoothly even with the resolution set to 120% on my rig: i7-8700k, 32GB RAM, and GTX 1080. No crashes, game-breaking bugs, or major glitches I’ve encountered. Using an Oculus Quest with ALVR, I was able to play wirelessly and use the movement scheme to its fullest, without analog turning. Graphics are beautiful for a VR game although the textures are noticeable a bit low quality resolution wise.