The original In Death set the bar for archery games in VR. Released in the fall of 2018, In Death took bow-and-arrow gameplay and mixed it with rogue-lite sensibilities to create a medieval shooting gallery you could play forever. In Death: Unchained, a new experience built from the ground up for Oculus Quest, welcomes players to the afterlife with new mechanics, features, and six degrees of freedom.
If you’ve spent any time with In Death before today, you possess a keen understanding of how good it feels to shoot stuff in the game’s rendition of the afterlife. The core mechanic — drawing arrows back and letting loose — feels authentic and gratifying, and it never gets old. It’s the same on Quest, only now, there’s no cable in the way, freeing you to whirl around the room to take your shots. You can peek, duck, and otherwise use your entire body to get the job done.
Made exclusively for Quest, Unchained takes advantage of the 6DoF experience with a bevy of game improvements. Locomotion has been completely revamped, so you can walk and explore more naturally, and you’ll find new levels, enemies, and mechanics throughout the experience. You should look at Unchained as a completely fresh experience, but expect series staples like infinite replayability (from procedurally-generated levels), death-and-rebirth game progression, and unlockable abilities. You’ll even find a few surprises I won’t spoil here.
To hear more about In Death: Unchained on Quest, we spoke with Superbright Chief Operating Officer Paweł Kopiński:
How would you describe In Death: Unchained to someone new to the series?
We think In Death: Unchained delivers something that’s been missing on Quest: a roguelike created exclusively for VR. It’s a bow & arrow shooter set in the godless afterlife, where you battle through beautiful, procedurally generated levels and dungeons in intense ranged combat. We think it sets itself apart visually through a more realistic, heavenly look; we’re aspiring to be the best-looking game on Quest.
Can you tell us why you opted for procedurally generated environments?
It’s common for roguelikes and roguelites to have some form of procedural generation, because of the nature of the genre, where you start from scratch from the same spot. The clearest benefit to the player is that the game always has something new to offer. It has incredible replay value while also having recognizable building blocks that help players plan their tactics. We’ve taken procedural generation to new heights in our new world, The Abyss, and we can’t wait for players to see it!
What new challenges and enemies await players in Unchained? How did the team go about creating them?
The game has a whole new world, called The Abyss, with new enemies, layout, and even more procedurally generated diversity. We started by building an understanding of the challenges in the original game. Our goal was to take these challenges even further through fresh level design, timing, and enemy patterns and behavior.
What’s new in terms of weapons and combat this time around?
The game features two weapons: a bow and a crossbow. They each have distinct characteristics, style, and feel. Players will find a lot of gameplay variety actually comes from the multitude of usable arrows and their effects. You have all the classics like fire, ice, and poison, and there are explosive arrows, traps, and others. They all feel great and juicy. The most exciting part is playing with your whole body: ducking, dodging, and peeking out to shoot from behind a (virtual) column. You become a weapon yourself on Quest when not dealing with cables.
Can you tell us about the new “The Abyss” level, and what players can expect to encounter?
The whole world of The Abyss has been designed from the ground up to be a tougher challenge. You’ve got certain new areas where the player needs to approach their targets from specific angles, or risk running straight into an ambush. There’s also lava on the floor in some areas, requiring you to pay close attention when teleporting around. The enemies you’ll encounter use new strategies and feature increased aggression. We wanted to complement the original’s enemies by combining them with new ones requiring fresh tactics to overcome.
What lessons did you learn from In Death for the Rift platform? How did those lessons influence the development of Unchained?
While walking is the most natural locomotion method, it’s important to let the player adjust their location using other means, like with the joysticks. We all find ourselves in surprising locations after playing in VR after a while, so it’s great to adjust your perspective while drawing an arrow and readying for battle. Delivering expressive controls that cover a wide range of player motion is very important.
If you’re ready to jump into Purgatory, grab your bow and play In Death: Unchained on Quest today.