The Unwelcomed Review
A collection of Escape the Room puzzles in VR with horrible navigation
Written by: Bob Washburneon 08/28/18
Genre: Casual, Indie, Simulation
Release date: January 20, 2018
Developer: The Unwelcomed Studios, Isolation Inc
Publisher: The Unwelcomed Studios
A letter arrives from a lawyer. An Uncle you have never heard of has passed away and left you his mansion. You are requested to come to the mansion to sign the paperwork. Looking at the date you realize that you had better hurry if you want to get there on time. So you rush on over and let yourself in. The door slams shut behind you, locked. And nobody else appears to be in the house.
Everything is boarded up except for seven doors conveniently numbered 101-107. You must enter each room and then escape from it. In the process you may learn something of the backstory.
Seven Escape-The-Room puzzles (plus one training room) in one game and it can be played in VR. What is there not to like? In a word – navigation.
The game released with only one mode of navigation: teleportation. With this method you use one of the joysticks to place a target on the floor. Release the joystick and you jump to that target.
The game is meant to be played in “Room” mode where you have a large area to move around in. I don’t. There is only one direction I can face and only one direction I can reach in without knocking into real-world things. This might not sound too bad, but the game only allows the environment to face North. If you want to face South to manipulate the switch behind you, you have to turn yourself around. There is no way to rotate the room.
But even if you had a full room to play in, having to turn yourself around repeatedly is a good way to get tangled up in the headset cable.
After enough complaints the developers finally included a smooth system that allows you to aim with one joystick and move with the other, almost like driving. This does allow the player to rotate the room and face in any direction. Unfortunately, the rotating joystick will also move you unless you’re very careful. So again, the focus moves from the game to the navigation.
I finally just gave up on the VR and tried to use good old fashioned mouse and WASD. This is where the second issue became the real problem.
The collision system is inconsistent. You can pick up a crow bar, hit a crate and the crate will fall to pieces. But take that same crow bar and swing at the boarded up door and it passes through it like a ghost. This leads to objects passing through other objects when you least want them to.
Take a fuse. Now go over to the fuse box to insert it. You must get that fuse which is floating in front of you within a certain distance of the target and it will highlight. Then let go and it will snap in place. I was a little too far away so I tapped the “W” key. I was now too close and the fuse passed through the wall. If I let go now, the fuse will be lost to me and the puzzle unsolvable. So I tap the “S” key and I am now too far away. The puzzle has now become a fight with the navigation system to end up at just the right distance.
All of this is bad enough, but just to add insult to injury, there is no save game option. None. Each room must be completed in one sitting. If you fight your way through one or two of the puzzles and need a break, you must leave the game running or you will have to repeat all of your work.
The bottom line is that this could be a very good game. Even great. But it invariably boils down to fighting the game mechanics rather than focusing on the story or the puzzles. Immersion is just not possible. Despite all the hard work that went into making The Unwelcomed, I must give it an amateur rating with the proviso that it could be improved.
+ Good puzzles
+ Nice graphics
– Horrible navigation
– Inconsistent environment
– No save game
Processor: Intel® i5-4590, AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better
Video Output: HDMI 1.4, Display Port 1.2 or newer
Additional Notes: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Keyboard and Mouse
Headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
Input: Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area: Standing, Room-Scale