I decided to play Legend of Dungeon for my VR midterm report. Legend of Dungeon was developed by Robot Loves Kitty. It is a “…is a randomly generated action RPG Beat’em’up with heavy Rogue-like elements, striking visuals, and dynamic music” in which you will die, many times. I discovered the game at PAX East 2 years ago. I bought it because VR was being developed. I am glad to finally have a chance to use this awesome feature.
How Legend of Dungeon plays in VR
This game plays very well. It feels more comfortable playing in VR. It supports both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
The game requires a controller to play in VR using the Vive. The keyboard works without VR, but the game world is rendered away from the keyboard. I believe that it mapped it to the edge of the play area so one can sit in the middle. Thumbsticks are used to move around, the X and Y buttons to cycle through items, A to attack, and B to drop an item. All controls can be remapped in-games. It is quite convenient.
The ambient music does not really add to the VR experience. It uses stereo sound, rather than spatial 3D sound. This game added VR after release. Like the controls, the music was not adapted to support all VR features and this is okay.
This is a sitting down VR game
As I am seated using my controller to move the character, the weight of the headset became fairly noticeable. This could definitely lend itself better if the headset was lighter. The HTC Vive is quite heavy. I adjusted it during my second play session, but it was still apparent.
The View and Controls
Unlike many VR games, scene is presented using an omniscient point of view in the third person. Legend of Dungeon offers an option to have the camera follow the character or to be stationary. The stationary option feels like a museum. The entire scene is rendered during play and can be seen from a distance. Sitting down, this is pretty tiring. I found myself having to look left and right many times to see where the character is.
The stationary camera made it difficult to control the character when stage left or right. The joystick responds to up and down. The character would move in and out, but not closer or further away from the camera. The other options led to a better experience: Better character control with a small trade-off; there was an initial discomfort when the camera follows the player. It is like motion sickness because the camera moves, but not the user. My eyes had to adjust to the screen moving left and right too. After ten minutes, this woozy feeling went away.
Normally, the cameras renders what is around the character. In VR, the character is just one part of the scene. All objects can be viewed unless the game generates a room with no lights. Then you need a lantern or a light emitting hat.
Screenshot by Mesa.
Legend of Dungeon has rooms. Each room has doors, which lead to more rooms. The player can only see one room at a time. In this door-hallway, the player is safe from attack. In VR, one can see the entire room. While playing, I could plan my attack before advancing which was very beneficial. I could also absorb the room’s aesthetics in safety too, if I wanted a small breather.
The game is 3D, but the characters, items, and npc’s are 2D sprites. The camera uses a mid-distance semi-high angle shot makes this distinction clear, but it is low enough where depth perception can be difficult. I ask myself, “am I aligned so my attack will hit the enemy?”
Depth perception is not an issue in VR. The head tracking lets me move around and look at the game at various angles. It also makes it easier to judge the position the character too. I never jumped into a lava pit by accident because of this. Fun fact, it can be a common occurrence to see “fell into a lava pit” in the leaderboards.
Another benefit in VR is that no light seeps in from the “real world”. Legend of Dungeon has a black background, favoring play in the dark. As such, this was inherently more immersive, since the darkness helped me focus on playing the game in front of me.
A dark open room. Not so spooky, not so deadly.
I played for a total of 2 hours. I played this game for 3 hours before doing a review, so I am familiar with how it plays. Again, this review is targeted towards the VR feature.
Session 1: 1 hour
To Legend of Dungeon in VR, beta mode needs to be enabled. Right click on the game, go to properties. Beta mode can be changed there. This mode requires a controller to play in VR too. The controller was not initially working. Apparently, the headset needed to be close enough to the play area for it to work. I think this is to prevent accidental button inputs. There were no other real setup problems. In fact, it was straightforward. I played timed.
Session 2: 30 minutes
I put the game down for about 20 minutes before playing again. I readjusted the headset, but it was still heavy on my forehead. I quickly died in-game. It’s a roguelike; it happens. On the next run, I found a strong weapon and totally forgot about what was going on around me. It was very relaxing. Everything was presented in front of me. I did not have to look around. I did not have to worry about what was going on behind me because it was dark and quiet. I was completely immerse you in the game, even though it is rendered in a third person perspective. That was, until a horde of oger frog monsters had their minions to attack me.
Session 3, the next day: 30 minutes
I played Legend of Dungeon without using the Vive. The game was physically easier to play because there was no heavy headset, but the added level of immersion was lost. The most apparent non-VR usability feature is the cycling item menu. In VR, this menu is located below the play area. I needed to focus elsewhere to use it. Normally, this menu is located in the lower left corner of the screen. I did not have to spend as much time remembering what I had available, additionally making the game mentally easier to play.
There is one challenge many roguelikes face: making inventory management accessible and easy to discern. One way that this could be solved could be to use hand ge\gures to pick an item from a grid, similar to Terraria’s inventory screen. Though, Legend of Dungeon system works, especially since VR was added after released.
A Little Legend of Dungeon background
I decided to see more development history of Legend of Dungeon. It is pretty neat. Robot Loves Kitty has a Tumblr blog. The game was made in Unity, successfully funded on Kickstarter, was Greenlit on Steam, was presented at PAX, and is available for sale. It even has, or is being developed, to have Twitch integration.
The verdict, I like playing it more in VR. A great add on-feature. I just wish the Vive headset was lighter