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Indie Game CtrlShift Brings Asymmetrical Multiplayer VR to the Table

Home > Indie Game CtrlShift Brings Asymmetrical Multiplayer VR to the Table

CtrlShift Logo

During E3, I had the chance to attend a side event called the MIX. Known formally as the Media Indie Exchange, the event was an opportunity for press to play a bunch of indie games and talk to the developers. It was a great time and you can read about some of the other indies we got to try out, including A Hat in Time and Light Fall.

During the event, while I was wandering around checking out some of the great games, I was pulled into a room by a developer who said they needed a second player for an "asymmetrical VR game". The game is called CtrlShift. It sounded enjoyable enough, so I happily agreed to try it out. I was then briefly told that I would sit at the nearby PC and act as the "hacker" while a stranger who was already set up wearing a headset would be the "secret agent". It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I was still onboard with the idea.

When I got sat down, I was given surprisingly little instruction. I was simply told to write code to protect and aid the secret agent. Also, I better be quick about it, because she would get caught by the guards if I didn't. I was pretty confused about what I actually needed to do at this point, until my secret agent yelled out that I needed to unlock a door with a specific number. After some trial and error with a few different commands, I succesfully unlocked the correct door and the minimap next to my IDE relayed that information.

CtrlShift VR

From then on, it became quite clear to me how the game was supposed to be played. I really wasn't supposed to know what to do until my agent told me. I could see unlockable doors and positions of guards on my map, while the agent had access to more specific information on doors, locks, and cameras. This meant that we needed to work together to convey this information to each other. She would yell out that I needed to open a certain door, I would tell her the position of the guards so she could avoid them. When she found a camera, she would give me a number so that I could tune into its stream and get a better view of her surroundings.

That's about all there was to the demo. After learning the syntax, the game was easy to pick up and the end goal was clear. The gameplay itself and the "hacking" was very simple, but that wasn't really what the game is about. This game is about communicating and working together with someone while playing very different roles. Hence, asymmetry. This game wouldn't work as a single player campaign, but there's something magical about that.

I think playing this game with a complete stranger actually made the experience much better for me. The only thing we knew about each other was that we had a common goal in this indie game that we had suddenly found ourselves playing. To reach that goal, we had to shout information that may or may not have been useful accross a very noisy room until something worked. It was fast paced and hectic, but it was a lot of fun.

When I think of asmmetrical gaming, I can't help but think of the Wii U. Although the Switch is an excellent console that I'm having a great time with, I was a little dissapointed that the ability to get a different experience on the TV and gamepad couldn't happen on the Switch. I had a great time playing Nintendo Land with friends and always enjoyed the type of experiences that having two different screens could provide.

CtrlShift is the first game I've played since the Wii U that was able to invoke similar feelings. I don't think this will go down as one of the greatest games ever made and I suspect it might even lose some appeal after the first couple plays. But the game offers an experience that I haven't had in quite some time and I had a great time with the demo. If you already have an HTC Vive, you can download the demo and play it for yourself. Otherwise, stay tuned for more news, because I've got my eye on this game.

About the Author: Rial Johnson

Rial Johnson co-founded Concealed Gaming after years of running sister sites Nintendo Castle and Pokéball Insider. He is an avid gamer with a special place in his heart for Nintendo, but often finds himself writing about games more than actually playing them. You'll likely see him around the various network sites and on social media, mostly managing the front-end content of the websites.

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