China isn’t well known for its console video games as many of the developers tend to opt for releasing mobile games instead, as the market over there for mobile games is huge! However, every now and again we are presented with a few titles which show off the talent of the developers within the region. Recently I was given the chance to try out 18 Floors on the PSVR from developer Aoga Tech and publisher Winking Entertainment and other than the misleading title, 18 Floors has easily become one of my “show off” games which I’ll use to show non-VR players what it’s like to be immersed in a virtual world.
Can you find the clues and solve the puzzles in order to escape the mysterious sealed rooms? Or are you doomed to remain a prisoner for all time, locked away within one of the ‘18 Floors‘?!
With her home planet destroyed 1000 years ago, Andrea, Queen of Naoh Star has been living hidden amongst humans, struggling to keep her race from eradication. When she learns of humanity’s plan of genocide for her people, Queen Andrea decides to strike back at humanity by altering history itself.
Players will follow Andrea as she travels to the secret time-bending black hole “18 Floors,” discovering her true identity and uncovering a galactic conspiracy.
The above quote is the story, as per the description on the PlayStation Store. Without this prior knowledge though, you wouldn’t figure out in-game that this was the actual premise for what’s going on. From the point of the game, you awaken within an unusual room which has scribblings on the walls, a bunch of tools, some strange puzzle boxes and a creepy picture staring at you in the corner. You must look around and pick up anything which looks like a clue, work out how to open each of the puzzle boxes, and eventually find a way into the elevator so you can take it to the next floor and begin the next immersive puzzle.
There are some story elements within the levels, specifically floor two which has a handwritten letter which offers a bit of exposition. However, other than that, the game itself doesn’t offer any story – no narration, no text, nothing. Thankfully the gameplay is awesome, but I hope the developers will take all the feedback on board when looking at advancing the story of 18 Floors.
I can’t stand it!
18 Floors is a bloody amazing game! It’s as immersive as The Exorcist VR: Legion, which I thought was amazing but a bit too scary for me, yet without the horror aspect as it’s been replaced with an eerie, creepy vibe and shrouded in mystery. You have the full support of your hands via two Move controllers and the movement you’ll be performing is via teleportation, no smooth movement here. One other thing is, you MUST play this game stood up. You can rotate in-game 90 degrees in each direction, with the buttons, but your character is always standing. As such, if you begin the game sat down – you’ll appear in-game as a very small person or a child, and unable to see what’s on the tables!
That was my biggest issue, as I have a back injury so I can’t stand up that much. However, I played the game in small bursts and managed to get all the way through it, and I’m glad I did! Putting aside my own personal handicap, for regular players who can stand and move without an issue, the game works perfectly. you can move around, duck and look over things by manually adjusting your own position, interact with almost anything on tables and the wall, easily see what you’re about to interact with in terms of buttons and levers, and most of all, the game is crystal clear in most places which makes it rank high in my list of “most immersive PSVR titles”.
The puzzles presented within these rooms are rather clever as well, which is great as a puzzle game is only as good as its puzzles, right?! I’m obviously not going to tell you all the answers, but I’ll describe a few of the puzzles you’ll encounter throughout the game. One requires you to line up an object against a light to form a shadow of an image on the wall – which is just like the ones you see in Perfect Angle, and the same developers new game, Sea of Memories.
Another gives you three clues as to what tools to look for, such as the “colourful one” and “the bent one”, which you must find and inspect so that you can line up the correct items on the puzzle box to open it. Finally, you also have one which involves you finding various pieces of paper which are hidden around the floor – then you have to piece them together to construct a solution.
There are more puzzles than that, obviously, and the format changes as you venture to the next floor. The game took me about three hours to complete as a few of the puzzles really stumped me but I refused to give up! The second floor, for example, has some rather cryptic puzzles which involve you making use of your “pick up from afar” ability to grab things from the top of structures, as well as thinking outside of the box in order to solve many of the puzzles it presents. I will give you one clue though, if the magnifying glass isn’t magnifying then maybe it’s missing something?
Going up… (Maybe)
This brings me onto the biggest disappointment for me, and what I was referring too when I said the title was a bit misleading. 18 Floors currently only has two floors. The PlayStation Store does state the following in the information panel about the game:
The first episode of the game is comprised of two rooms, the Phantom Room and Sea Express stage.
However, because I was provided with the game by the publisher, I hadn’t seen the store pages so this came as a shock to me. Don’t get me wrong – the game is great and it’s by far the most immersive escape room we’ve seen since the likes of Statik and I Expect you to Die, I was just expecting more based on the title of the game. After looking around online, it appears the developers are looking to release more floors but any information on when that will be or if it’ll be free or paid DLC is anyone’s guess at the moment.
I sincerely do hope they continue with the development of 18 Floors though, as this game has shown that the team have a lot of talent in both creating puzzles and also building truly immersive environments.
**Update from the publisher: Two more floors are being added to the game later this year as FREE DLC! They are then going to concentrate on creating the next set of floors. So that’s awesome!**
Graphically, 18 Rooms is up there with the clearest and most realistic PSVR games I’ve played. Once you don the headset and awake within the creepy room, you’ll think your actually there. I was picking up items and putting them on the table as I re-arranged the pieces together and at one point I actually leant onto the desk thinking it was there! Luckily I remembered just in time so I didn’t fall over though! There are also a few rather unique effects within the game such as a mirror you can pick up and use – if you look through it one way then you can see everything behind you (albeit without certain items as it’s a bare-bones reflection), but if you look through it the other way then you see what the room looked like in the past!
As a test, I brought the mirror right up to my eyes and I slipped and accidentally rammed it into my face! I wasn’t expecting much but the game didn’t disappoint, I was instantly transported to the room of the past! I could walk around and look at how the room looked before it became a puzzle room! This serves no purpose other than a trophy, but it was cool regardless! I kind of wished the developers had incorporated this into one of the puzzles, maybe had the solution scribbled out in the puzzle room but in the past, it was there for you to read – for example.
Soundwise the developers have perfectly captured the tone and setting of the game. From the eerie music to the horrific female singing on the second floor, it’s all very unsettling and it does begin to creep you out. However, there is no jump scares and this isn’t a horror game, so those of you out there who aren’t a fan of horror games (such as me), don’t worry – the game is great.
As I’ve said a few times, 18 Floors is easily one of my go-to games to show of PSVR now, for my mates who don’t like horror games, as it’s immersion it creates is second to none with all the interactivity and the thoughtful puzzles. What would I change though? If I was the developers then I would add more context into the game – give it a full intro as to what’s going on and a brief explanation of why we are in these rooms. Having the explanation I quoted above on the VR storefronts is great, but if it isn’t reflected or mentioned in-game then it’s just the same as putting a caption on a picture which wouldn’t be obvious without any context within the image.
I would also like more floors if possible! If they manage to create the other 16 floors then I can easily see this being a massive success if they drop these two floors to about £7.99 and then offer the others as a £24.99, or all of them at about £29.99. Let people try out the initial levels for cheaper so people can get an idea of how immersive it really is!
18 floors is one of the best looking games on the PSVR and one of the best Escape Room games I’ve played. This initial version of the game only covers the first two floors, yet there is enough content for around two to three hours as you find clues, solve puzzles, and investigate two highly detailed areas. There is no jump scares or cheap horror moments but the game is creepy and mysterious with both its visuals and it’s audio. If you own a VR headset and you’re a fan of puzzles, escape rooms, or creepy “what do I do” games, you should add this to your list of what to pick up next!
- Looks amazing in VR with a very realistic setting
- Full use of your hands as you can interact with many different useful and pointless items
- The puzzles are well thought out and all have logical answers
- The sound is subtle yet effective
- One of the best escape room games out there in VR
- Only two floors are included within this purchase (with two more coming for free later on this year)
- Playtime is a little short at around 60-90 minutes per floor
- Can only be played whilst standing
- The story is absent from the actual game, so there is nothing physically linking the two floors together - other than the picture