18 Floors, one huge flaw.

18 Floors Review – Puzzle Solving VR Stylee

For those of you who have played through this game, you’ll realise that the title of this game may be the biggest puzzle of all, but more on that later. 18 Floors is a Virtual Reality locked room puzzler from Aoga Tech (Developer) and Shanghai Wishing Entertainment Limited (Publisher). There are no spoilers in this review, but I will mention some of the gameplay method. It is available on HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift and the platform I played it on, PSVR.

The rooms have great atmosphere and reality.

The one thing that everybody seems to know about this game is that the title is grossly misleading. There are 2 floors in this version and on completion it says there are more to follow. It would be easy to immediately dismiss this game as unfinished and underdeveloped just to get a Dev credit out there, but to do so would ignore the quality gameplay and puzzles that are hidden within (much like a puzzle I suppose).

Gameplay

The game starts with you in an elevator, arriving on the first floor which is a workshop. The walls are covered in tools and the shelves covered in books. There are loads of things you can interact with and move. You can go and explore and as you do you see 5 mysterious contraptions, one in each corner and one in the centre. As you start to explore the room, you see scraps of paper and symbols that match the machines and you soon start to see how this game will work. The puzzles are clever and completely suited to VR. You have to look in and onto things, around corners and underneath. Items have to be lifted and rotated to match others, it could only work in VR.

Solve the puzzles to make devices appear, the solve some more!

Movement around the levels is teleport only and 90 degree click rotation, but because there is no action element, it suits the game and feels right.

The puzzles are well thought out and a room which appears no larger than 4 metres by 8 metres will take a while to explore and there are at least 6 puzzles, and some hidden trophies, to find and solve.

Graphics

Played on a standard PS4 the game has no tear or frame rate issues, teleport movement means that the scene is redrawn each time which probably helps. The textures are excellent and the items you can move have a good sense of weight to them. The physics engine is quite accurate, and things fall and get thrown with a reasonable amount of realism.

The details within the game is excellent though, open a book and there are pages of text which you can read, get up close to an oil painting and the textures stay true. There is a great range of materials in the game. As you move through the levels you see wood and metal, carpet and glass and the amount of work that has gone into it is at times excellent.

On some games, the switch to VR means that texts become blurred or textures become blocky, but there is none of that here. It doesn’t have the sheer size of some other VR games but it’s amazing how much it packs into a small space.

But it isn’t all good. While load screens aren’t the most important thing in the world, this game has nothing. You get a black screen with the circling white dots as if your console is about to crash. Then you are just in the room. 18 Floors also struggles with things on the ground, though that is common to most PSVR titles. Usually you can move quick enough to grab something from the floor, but at times you need to recalibrate which breaks the immersion.

Bounce the light around the room and hey presto, its onto the next floor.

Audio

Sound effects are complimentary and appropriate, hit something with a hammer, it sounds hard. Smash a glass and it breaks. The sounds match up nicely to your actions and add to the mystery you are in. There is no background music, which adds to the realism and sense of frustration and claustrophobia at being locked in.

Longevity

The first level, with no help, took me over an hour to solve and after a further 90 minutes I still hadn’t finished the second. If all 18 floors were there this would be a massive game with a ton of value! The replay value would be limited but for trophy hunters there would be an excuse to go back as most of the ones I got are secondary to the method of completing the game.

But the fundamental flaw that affects 18 Floors is that there are only 2. The idea of ascending 18 Floors of (ironically) 18 increasingly difficult puzzles is simplistic genius. But there are only 2.

It’s like going to binge watch something on Netflix and 2 episodes in getting told you’ll have to wait.

That could be excused if there was a suggestion they were dropping one floor a week or a month, but there’s nothing. Do I get the next floor in a patch, or do I have to buy DLC?!?!

I DON’T KNOW!!!

Some puzzles mean looking through trans-dimensional devices. It is more fun than it sounds, but even with this I couldn’t see when the game would be finished!

Conclusion

18 Floors is a brilliant puzzler but fundamentally flawed by a lack of finish around the main game which make it feel like it is still under development. And in case you thought you could live with that, you only get one ninth of the game. The Studio have an opportunity to make something excellent here, but with a relatively high price point and a lot of the game missing I don’t think they will get the return on investment.

The idea is simple. Exit lift, solve puzzles, open door, enter lift. The execution is somewhat harder.

This game shows what PSVR can do with puzzle games and how VR can be used to further enhance a genre. It is a glimpse at something great and I hope that this is developed further, or another studio picks up the mantle.

Great effort Aogo Tech, but its issue means that I give 18 Floors a Thumb Culture Silver Award. It’s worth buying, it is definitely worth playing, but it needs to be finished!

I was supplied with a code from the developer to review this game.

UPDATE- I contacted the developer for this game. They have confirmed that 2 more floors are coming in Q4 2018 and the others are still under development. They currently state it will be free DLC.

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