As much as I enjoy virtual reality, it’s still very much in its infancy. Many games feel like tech demos, with few games being fully fleshed out experiences. Some types of games really fit virtual reality well, and others not so much. It turns out puzzle games are a great fit for virtual reality, and two of my favorite VR games are puzzle games—The Room VR: A Dark Matter and Myst. I was hoping I would get more of the same from Ryte–The Eye of Atlantis. Esoteric puzzle solving, time travel, and mysterious magic based around the mythical city of Atlantis? Count me in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to its premise.
Ryte– The Eye of Atlantis is a virtual reality puzzle game where you play as a time travelling tourist taking a trip to the mythical lost city. The developers tried for historical accuracy—at least, for accuracy based on the historical writings of those who talked about Atlantis like Plato and Herodotus. Of course, it would be boring if your tour went to plan, and soon you find yourself wielding mystical powers and taking over the role of an Atlantean recently escaped from captivity, and trying to stop an apocalyptic catastrophe. Again, great premise, but its execution is lacking.
One of the best parts of virtual reality is your ability to interact with objects in ways you can’t in traditional games. Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis allows you to interact with objects in multiple ways. While at first you can only pick up and manipulate objects, eventually you will be able to wield more magical powers—like the ability to push and pull objects made out of orichalcum—mythical Atlantean metal. You also have an inventory available, accessible by taking a bag from your back. It’s not the best system, but it works—but only just. Grabbing and moving objects feels janky. It’s not the worst I’ve experienced in a VR game, but it’s pretty bad.
While I could get used to the clunky mechanics, I found the puzzles to be a little less than exciting. They’re not bad, but most of them have been done as well or better in other franchises. Even the physics-based push/pull mechanics offered little in the way of interesting puzzle solving. Of course, certain puzzles can be difficult for some, and easy for others—but I found the puzzles in Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis to be based more on finding the correct object or location than dealing with mindbenders. Puzzles are often missing components, which you have to find in dark rooms. I was often stuck looking for objects in the dark for longer than it took me to solve the puzzle once I found all the pieces. That’s not really puzzle solving, it’s pixel hunting.
It should be noted that I played Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis on an Index. The store page says it’s compatible, though I did receive press information saying its only official compatibility is limited to the Rift and Vive for now. Still, it played perfectly fine on my Index, though I was forced to use the narrow track pad for the movement. If it’s not officially compatible with the Index, that doesn’t matter—it’s close enough.
Production values for Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis seemed like they’d be great—at least at first. My robot companion who introduced me to time travel was voiced well enough, despite some odd syllabic emphasis. But most of the voice acting ends up being pretty terrible. This wouldn’t have been bad if it tried to remain cryptic, like Myst—but there is so much exposition that the voice acting becomes a little irritating. In fact, it’s really some of the worst I’ve encountered in a video game.
Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis isn’t all bad, though. The environments are well detailed, even if there was a tendency for my character to clip into walls. There is also a lot of lore to immerse you—even though none of it was particularly grabbing. Any dramatic or interesting moment was usually marred by clumsy or unemotional line reads. There are some interesting puzzles, I just could have done without all of the item searching in dark rooms. If you absolutely need a puzzle game fix, Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis might be your game—but I recommend it only if you’re exhausted the supply of better VR puzzlers. This one’s a bit of a clunker.
Ryte—The Eye of Atlantis is available today for PC based VR systems via Steam and will be coming to Quest and Quest 2 in the future.
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