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The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed Review

The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed Review

The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed Review

The first chapter of a classic adventure game in VR with navigation issues

Category: Review
Written by: Bob Washburne on April 29, 2019
Genre: Sci-Fi VR Adventure
Release date: April 5, 2019
Developer: Cloudhead Games Ltd
Publisher: Cloudhead Games Ltd
Platform: Windows, VR only


“You can always identify the pioneers by their arrow scars.”

“The early bird may catch the worm, but it is the second mouse which gets the cheese.”

Back in March of 2013 Cloudhead Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for an ambitious adventure game called Gallery: The Six Elements. It was to be an urban exploration of a procedurally-generated sewer system (i.e., different for each game) which would lead the player to six different worlds based on the six alchemical elements.

And the whole game was to be designed for Virtual Reality.

Very cool, but this was before Virtual Reality had hit the marketplace. Oculus was only at Developer Kit 1.0 and there were no tracked hand controllers. So how was Cloudhead supposed to develop its game?

Several years later, Oculus had come out with the Rift and the Touch and Cloudhead had something they could build to. But they had to cut back on the grandiose vision. They split the game into four chapters, dropped the elaborate sewer system and focused on releasing Chapter 1.

After a quick name change, Chapter One was released as Gallery: Call of the Starseed. It was a classic adventure game with plenty to explore, plenty of puzzles and good story development. There was only one issue – the navigation sucked.

There are three basic ways to navigate in VR:
1) Driving. One thumb-stick steers and the other accelerates/brakes. This is the closest to natual movement, but is also the most likely to cause motion sickness.
2) Click-Turn. This is the same as Driving, except that the steering thumb-stick clicks you around in 15 degree intervals. This simulates the act of blinking and removes most motion sickness. Cloudhead actually invented this mode.
3) Teleport. Use one thumb-stick to position a target where you want to be and the other to indicate which direction you wish to face. Click and you are there. This is the least realistic and while it is the most likely to break immersion, it is the least likely to cause motion sickness.

Cloudhead only implemented the Teleport mode, but there was a bug in it. No matter what you did you were always left facing North after teleporting. The only way to face South was to physically turn around. But then your hand controllers would be in shadow and you would have trouble actually doing anything. Also, turn around too many times and you get tangled in the headset cable.

The entire game became a fight with the navigation system which rendered it unplayable.

Fortunately, enough people complained and Cloudhead came out with a patch. The left thumb-stick still teleports, but now the right thumb-stick performs a click-turn in place. So now you can teleport, turn, teleport, turn and so on. This is a little awkward, but the game is at least playable.

So how is the game? Good. It is a classic Sci-Fi adventure game and, for the most part, done professionally.

You get a phone call from your sister. She is (urban) exploring the storm drain system where it empties into the beach. She has run into an eccentric professor who has gone off grid and is living as a mad scientist in the tubular tunnels. She needs you to come and help with the crazy device he has made.

Sure. Why not.

So you start on the beach and try to piece things together.

Is it worth your time? There are precious few adventure games out for VR, especially if you don’t like horror. The graphics are professional, the puzzles fair and logical, the story unfolds at a nice pace and the voice acting is wonderful. Yes, I think is it worth playing. But with the clunky navigation system you might want to wait for it to go on sale.

Grade: B-

+ Good graphics
+ Great voice acting
+ Good story line
+ Good puzzles
+/- Chapter One out of Four. Only One and Two have been released.
Navigation system distracts from immersion




MINIMUM Windows:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core i5-4590
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Geforce GTX 970 OR AMD Radeon R9 290
DirectX: Version 11
Additional Notes: Requires a virtual reality headset; includes native Rift support
Bob Washburne

Bob Washburne

I have been playing adventure games since 1979 when I played "Adventure" on the DEC PDP minicomputer at work. The first adventure game I ever purchased was "Zork 1" for CP/M. I can remember the introduction of the IBM PC. I remember the invention of the microcomputer (actually, it was discovered rather than invented). I remember the invention of the minicomputer. Yes, I am an old fart. I have written 80 reviews and articles for JustAdventure starting with my review of "Bioscopia" in February of 2004. I currently own more adventure games than I will ever be able to play, let alone review. And I want more!

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