By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The Rhythm of the Universe is alive in Ionia, the first in a series of virtual reality games about preserving the environment with the power of music. There’ll be seven in total. The first game that’s due soon is a single-player fantasy-adventure puzzle and the trailer was unveiled during UploadVR Summer Showcase by ROTU Entertainment. They are planning on making it available in Q3 for the Oculus Quest, PlayStation VR, and VR capable PC. It’s expected to sell for $9.99.
Five percent of proceeds from the sales of this game will benefit environmental non-profit Wildlife Warriors. Established in 2002 by Steve and Terri Irwin, Wildlife Warriors continues Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin‘s legacy of protecting injured, threatened or endangered wildlife. The latest trailer reveals this family’s involvement with this product:
I’m particularly excited about this rhythm game as it’s bound to be different from current products like Beat Saber (the most well known) or Beat the Rhythm. Add on top the fact that I’m a fan of Steve’s mission and his works, the recognition is most likely to get even casual gamers to check this new game out. The fact creature designer Neville Page of Avatar fame (James Cameron) is involved in the design guarantees a certain level of quality control in the final product. In the trailer, the visuals says it all. It feels like the world is borne from Mononoke Hime and Avatar, and what it’ll become is going to be Fantasia 2021. The scale of the fauna found in this world may well put Shadow of the Colossus to shame. Not only are players composing music, but also they must (I assume) use it to tame the various beasts encountered during gameplay.
The teaser trailer (see below) shows off the exquisite beauty of how this world will look like on high-powered VR gaming machines. It’s bound to shine on properly decked out virtual reality PC systems and the PS5 than with older generation machines. Hopefully the mistakes made from Cyberpunk 2027 will not be repeated, to ensure playability across the multiple platforms this game is destined for.
From the Press Release:
In this game, players will get to explore a beautiful forest populated with instrument-inspired flora and fauna. They can tap plants and pet animals with VR controllers or hand tracking to create pulsing drum beats, gentle bell tones, and other melodic sounds and set the air humming with good vibrations. Climb trees or sweep aside curtains of vines in search of a way to save the Harpa, a mystic creature in grave danger.
Solve puzzles using music-based magic and reveal secret areas. Zipline across trenches in search of supplies. Delve deep into ancient ruins to unlock the power of tonal tablets and uncover the path forward. Follow a hopeful narrative through a lively ecosystem thrumming with the Rhythm of the Universe and heal the forest with the power of song.
“Entertainment without a motivation to elevate is, in my opinion, close to pointless. It is a privilege to be able to reach an audience and share your vision. To squander it on something that does not empower, educate, bolster or provoke a greater meaning feels irresponsible,” says Neville Page of Avatar, Prometheus, Star Trek: Discovery, and Picard fame.
“Rhythm of the Universe embodies so much of what I believe in as a designer and a contributor on this planet. It IS entertaining. It IS captivating. It IS fun. But it is also smart, educational, and thought-provoking. Dare I say, it has the potential to open one’s mind to possibilities, both fantastic and relevant to the world we are in. A beautiful allegory packaged in stunning visuals and compelling gameplay.”
Rhythm of the Universe: IONIA is natively developed for the Oculus Quest. Other platforms it’ll be playable on include the Oculus Link, PSVR, Valve Index, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, Vive Pro, and HP Reverb G2 with English, Spanish, French, and German language support. IONIA is rated E for Everyone and equivalent in regions around the world.