Sandbox VR’s latest adventure Amber Sky is a blast to the stars
As the Virtual Reality gaming scene continues to expand in Singapore, Sandbox VR is adding a new science-fiction adventures to its library, Amber Sky 2088. It joins Sandbox VR’s two other adventures, Deadwood Mansion, a (super fun) zombie adventure, and The Curse Of Davy Jones (which we haven’t tried).
With the launch earlier this month, we went down to their location at Orchard Central to check out the new game – which Sandbox VR touts as their “most ambitious game to date” – just to see what’s up. Turns out – it’s quite a blast!
Set in futuristic New Hong Kong in the year 2088, Amber Sky 2088 places you in the shoes of androids given the role of escorting a package – humanity’s last line of defence – up a huge space elevator, even as earth faces the onslaught of alien invaders.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Setup for Amber Sky 2088 is similar to Deadwood Mansion (and I suppose, Davy Jones). Before the game, you put on the VR head-mounted display, headphones, a backpack PC, a haptic suit and motion-capture devices for your wrists and ankles. Setup is simple and the Sandbox VR crew were more than happy to help us make adjustments to maximise our comfort.
But if you’ve played their previous games, Amber Sky 2088 has a major change up its sleeve: You now get to the next step is where things change: You get to choose to play either a defensive or attacking role. The attackers are armed with a power laser rifle. It comes with a secondary attack, a flamethrower attachment for when the alien swarms get too close. Meanwhile, the defenders get a tiny pistol, and a shield.
And holy shit, that shield.
While it’s a great way to keep you and your teammates alive from the alien hordes (but not from HUGE MEGA LASERS, as we would find out), the shield also can be thrown. Yes, just like that of a certain Marvel Superhero! It’s certainly fun watching it cleave through the alien horde – but that also means your only means of defence is flying through the air. However, it does return pretty quickly so you can cower for a moment if you wish.
This lends a bit of tactical decision-making to the game – “do I throw the shield, or continue to tank damage?” – making it more exciting and immersive.
Meanwhile, attackers get to go full-on blasting – but should take note, the shield appears to block your shots too, so you have to get out of cover at times to do some good damage.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
What makes Amber Sky 2088 even more immersive is some clever use of space. As it takes place on a space elevator you’re going to feel some vertigo, though if you’re the sort to crawl across a glass bridge (like me), I can safely say it’s not that bad, especially when you’re being attacked. Or you can just not look down (and miss the scenery).
The elevator also has some clever tricks, helping the mix up the positioning of the players and taking them far, far away from each other. This being an alien invasion also means that you get some alien-related effects, rather than the usual zombie tropes. You also get to take on much larger enemies this time around, giving the game a much bigger sense of scale.
That said, the game doesn’t quite require you to do as much ducking as Deadwood Mansion, so it’s good if you have old-person knees.
The game also mixes it up with some “bullet time” effects, and while they kick in during some intense moments, you’ll appreciate being able to go gun crazy for a few extra seconds.
As mentioned, the gear Sandbox VR provides is pretty solid. The haptic suit gives you a good idea on where you’ve been hit, especially when you’re attacked from behind. The microphone comes in handy when you need to shout orders at each other. You’ll also get a good 30 minutes of gameplay (if you survive that long).
With 30 mins in that suit, its a good thing that it fits multiple body sizes. I become quite the puddle of sweat during VR games, and while the air conditioning is strong you’re going to want to dress comfortably.
At the end of the game, you’ll get some video highlights to keep. We had it delivered to our iPhone over AirDrop, though I suppose Sandbox VR should have some Android options.
I guess the major thing that might stop one from booking a session right away is the pricing. Including the 30 minutes of gaming you should spend slightly more than an hour at Sandbox VR, where prices start at S$32 per session. It is somewhat par for the course for VR experiences, and all that VR gear and development does come at a premium for now. In that sense, it might work better for a department retreat, but if you haven’t spent your SG Bonus on Christmas gifts, this is quite a good idea.
That said, there is some replay value! Turns out we got only one of the possible endings during our playthrough, so depending on how well you do during the game, you might see the same ending we did.
In some ways, VR games can be pretty similar – headgear, suit, shoot zombies or aliens. But Amber Sky 2088 tries to mix it up a little with some clever use of the space elevator, and that shield is just a thrill to wield. But that also means someone’s gotta play the attack role. If you can agree (argue) on who plays what role, Amber Sky 2088 works out to a fun 30 minutes of VR action.
Sandbox VR is located at Orchard Central, #05-31, 181 Orchard Road. We suggest you book your session online at
www.sandboxvr.com/sg to avoid being disappointed. And go a little bit early, so you don’t have to rush during setup.