‘Tentacular’ Is the Only Game That Does VR Right

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Instead, you are firmly grounded in a time and place. There are waves rippling around you, orange cones to indicate the boundaries of where you can go, and tiny little people on the island of La Kalma talking to you. Why are the people so tiny? Well, because you’re an enormous sea kraken. But to these people, who saw you grow up from an adorable, teeny-tiny kraken, you are just a person. And now that you’re 16, it’s time for you to get to work.

Being a kraken makes you the ideal person to clear away rock slides and assemble tall stacks of shipping containers. You have some advantages—you’re immensely big and strong—but you also have some disadvantages, which is that you don’t have hands Instead, you have long tentacles with suckers on them.

This is not as frustrating as it might seem. After all, this is the way that your body works in real life (if you were a kaiju in real life) (please let no kaiju be reading this). You can stick or unstick things with your suckers. The base of your arms is stronger and more stable, for bigger items, and the tips are smaller but a little harder to control precisely.

This is so much more real, and more engaging, than most VR games’ phantom climbing or phantom swordplay, which still feels to me like eerie pantomime. Sticking and building with your tentacles is full of feedback that feels completely real. If you try to pick up something huge with the tip, your tentacle streeeeeeetches until it unsticks and thwaps someone right into the sea. Plucking one hapless, tiny volunteer for a building experiment by sticking the delicate tentacle tip directly to the top of her head is also weirdly satisfying.

Building a Mystery

Courtesy of Devolver Digital

Each level involves a sort of 3D building puzzle. You can replay levels or move between the story line and free-play arenas. It’s incredibly easy to navigate—there’s a little house with a lever behind you to navigate to and fro, and if you can’t solve a puzzle, there’s a little dude always standing by who offers encouragement, drawings, and tips. If you look up, cameras, other levers, and sometimes people drop down out of the sky. But right now, I’m not spending that much time playing with all the different props because I’m just enjoying the writing.

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