IGF 2016 Spotlight on: VR Games

As I continue wading through the 775 entrants in this year’s Independent Games Festival, whittling my way to a highly polished list of the Top Twenty, I thought I’d highlight some of the categories I’ve been filing games into. Today’s post features all of the most unique VR games and experiences I took a liking to.


I’m not super hyped for the oncoming virtual reality craze. I’ve had a few different experiences with the Rift and Gear VR over the years but it has yet to move me towards a purchase or pre-order. I may eventually jump in and buy a headset thanks to some of these noteworthy titles I earmarked from this year’s IGF entrants. Some of these even made it into my Top Twenty!

08:46 by 846Studios
A “narrative driven experience [where] you embody an office worker in the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 events”. Leave it to an indie team to finally recreate “the forbidden calamity” in video game form.

Fantastic Contraption by Northway Games & Radial Games
I think this one is a pretty widely regarding darling of the VR scene and rightfully so. It combines the engineering ingenuity of stuff like Besiege and Scrap Mechanic with the Vive’s unique motion controllers. What’s not to love about seeing a haphazard automaton you created come to life at your feet?

G.T.F.O. – Gravitational Testing Facility & Observations by VR Bits
Not nearly as whimsical as Fantastic Contraption, G.T.F.O. still wins me over by basically being The Incredible Machine in VR. Using the Vive’s motion controllers you place components to build ramps and manipulate gravity to build reliable physics machines.

I Expect You To Die by Schell Games
As you’d guess from the name, I Expect You To Die is an homage to all things James Bond. But even 007 had to start as a 00 Nothin’ and bumbling around with spy gadgets and dangerous situations looks like a ton of fun.


Irrational Exuberance by Buffalo Vision
If ADRIFT is the hard science VR equivalent to Gravity then Irrational Exuberance is VR’s “Pink Elephants on Parade” from Dumbo. I don’t know what you actually do but it’s got an amazing style with its colorful and low-poly universe that I can’t stop staring at.

Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs
Possibly THE most critical piece of software for the acceptance of VR, Job Simulator is planned as a launch title for all three major VR platforms. It’s bizarre and colorful rooms are the perfect environment to introduce newcomers to how VR works in a humorous and risk-free way.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes by Steel Crate Games
While Job Simulator might be the game that sells the world on VR, Keep Talking was one of the first VR experiences that sold ME on it. Of course, you can play with a laptop but the sensory deprivation of having your view of frantic, fellow bomb disposal “experts” adds to the nerve-wracking tension.

Narcosis by Honor Code Inc.
Apparently Narcosis has been kicking around the VR scene since 2013 but I hadn’t really noticed it until this year. The combination of immersive VR with a terrifying and crushing undersea environment is probably too much for me to handle but it looks fabulous and enticing all the same.

P·O·L·L·E·N by Mindfield Games
Investigate a derelict space station to unravel the spooky mystery of the crew’s disappearance… by picking up and fiddling with every object in sight! It’s a physics based mystery and after the short lived but fantastic Firewatch I’m up for more walkin’ around and throwing stuff.

Subject REDACTED by DigiPen Team Mocha
Along the same lines as Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, REDACTED utilizes multiplayer in and out of VR. One player is navigating a first-person labyrinth filled with cameras and traps while the VR player sits in the security room behind consoles and multiple screens. Manipulating and hacking the facility, the VR player will have to coordinate and provide the other player with an overview of what’s around the next corner. It reminds me of another IGF game from 2015, Black Hat Oculus, that did the same thing but in reverse.

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