Want To Learn to Spiderman Like A Pro? Try Straylight
By Alex Orona
Straylight is a new VR title from small indie team DrBloc. It’s a title that’s quite a fascinating premise that can easily be summed up in Cyberpunk Spiderman, but there’s a lot to unpack in that statement.
In its simplest form, Straylight uses the two VR controllers to shoot ropes at designated points, then by moving your hands in a circular motion, increases your velocity towards said point. This puts some umph into your swing, allowing you to control the speed and height you fling yourself. You are doing so through cyberspace obstacle courses that look right out of Lawnmower Man. Giant planet and wireframe geometric shapes are peppered throughout the courses as obstacles. The points that you can grab onto are brightly lit orbs that lead a trail through the course, to get all the way to the end goal.
While these courses have pre-planned routes with obstacles in between, there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing a point and flinging across the endless void. This can be used to shave time off your run or create unique freeflying shortcuts. All that would be missing is the breeze flying through your hair, leaping across giant cyber chasms and limitless outer space.
There are also ghosts that can be enabled, if you want to compete with yourself or others for that lovely competitive aspect, but there’s also a zen mode for those (like me) who just want a free swinging relaxing experience. I often found myself playing before bed, using it as a wind down. Swinging through a few stages put me in a meditative state and let me unwind from an otherwise busy day. I do wish we could have some other sort of environments, but the ones currently in game are unique enough as to not be a complete letdown.
The soundtrack fits perfectly with some lo-fi techno beats, created by Rob ‘88bit’ Kovacs, that suit the action perfectly. Putting you in a space age vibe that makes you lose yourself to the beat and also into the swinging. It punctuates each of the 11 stages perfectly and I often found myself listening to it in my off hours. It’s definitely a mood that clicked with me both in the game and out.
Straylight has all the makings of a fantastic VR experience, if a bit of a shallow one. The swinging is something you can spend hours to master, I always was hoping for at least another mechanic or function to the gameplay. There’s depth to the swinging and level design, but it’s missing just another thing or two, to up that complexity. Otherwise, it’s a one trick pony, given that that one trick is still fantastic. In the end of the day, I will definitely be suggesting Straylight to any that will listen, but there is a caveat of what they’d be getting. A simple web swinging good, with some feel good lo-fi beats, and that’s not a bad description at all.