Space will always be a question of mystery. We can let our imaginations run wild and see it come alive through books, tv, movies, and games. But sometimes our imaginations lead to new ideas that once executed, become something that could far meet our expectations. So when I heard that 3rd Eye Studios was bringing out Downward Spiral: Horus Station for PlayStation and that it would have PlayStation VR support, I had to find out more. I needed to know more about the story, the concept, and the space battles while being weightless in space and Gregory Louden (Lead Designer) & Arttu Rajala (Community Manager) of 3rd Eye Studios were happy to help out.
Hello and welcome to The PlayStation Brahs. Please introduce yourself. What is a typical day like at 3rd Eye Studios?
“We are 3rd Eye Studios, a small indie game developer from Helsinki. Even though we are based in Finland, our team is very international. We have people from Australia, Mexico, Latvia, and US working on our games.
Our typical day is all about tightly-knit teamwork. The small team allows a nice and quick exchange of ideas. We have a constant dialogue going on about everything from features to the daily tasks and gaming in general. What really binds us together is a love for sci-fi, movies, and video games so those topics are going on all the time.”
For those who might not be aware, what are some games or projects that you have been responsible for or a part of? What about 3rd Eye Studios?
“Even though we are only 10 person strong, we have decades worth of experience from making games like Control, Alan Wake, Halo 5, Ori and the Blind Forest, Trials series and Quantum Break. We came together 1,5 year ago and our first game Downward Spiral: Prologue released on Steam in Spring 2017.”
Downward Spiral: Horus Station will be coming out soon for PlayStation VR. Could you give us some backstory and what gamers may experience in Virtual Reality? Where did the inspiration come from?
“Prologue was a kind of a proof of concept for the idea and it turned out really well. That encouraged us to continue it with a full-fledged game. The Prologue was only in VR and PC, but we wanted to increase both the scope and platforms. Downward Spiral: Horus Station launched on Steam in last May and soon on PlayStation 4. The game is also fully playable without VR devices. So if are just looking for an atmospheric zero-G space adventure, you can play Horus Station on TV like any other game.”
I must say zero-gravity battles look amazing. How well does that transition over to Virtual Reality?
“VR produces an amazing immersion. In particular, if you have the PlayStation Move Controllers pushing yourself around the station feel intuitive and it is really easy to jump in regardless of player background. Zero-G also gives the combat a lot of more depth. Enemies can move every direction in the 3D space so even simple AI does interesting maneuvers hiding and ambushing the player from high and low. Players, of course, find different tools that help traversing the station more nimbly than just pushing yourself from the walls.”
Not everyone is going to experience motion sickness in Virtual Reality, but in the beginning were there any discussions or any concerns with those that may not have built up a tolerance that others who have been playing Virtual Reality longer, may have when it comes to the zero-gravity aspect of Downward Spiral: Horus Station?
“We feel after Prologue and now Horus Station we’ve solved motion sickness from VR like other titles. People that are easily susceptible will feel some motion sickness of course, but otherwise, we’re very confident. Horus needs to be played to be believed.”
One thing that I really love is the two-player co-op aspect. Can you give us some more details about this? Is it certain modes or will the full game campaign have this ability?
“We love co-op play so the feature was locked in from the beginning. You can play the complete campaign with a friend and in that many of the puzzles have been modified to fit better for two players. There is also bonus Horde-mode where you have to survive several waves of enemies in the multiplayer maps.”
Please tell us more about the online? Is it really eight-player deathmatch? Zero gravity deathmatches, horde, and survivor…I love it.
“The campaign was our main focus in development, but to spice the game up we have 8 players FFA (Free-For-All) deathmatch and the 4 player Horde. There are 5 maps all fought in full zero-G environments. Survivor mode, unfortunately, didn’t make it into the final build.”
Are there any plans to have Aim Controller support?
“No Aim Controller support, but all the tools and weapons on Horus Station are held in one hand so if you want you can go full akimbo with the bolt throwers and such. We, of course, support Move controllers and the PS4 gamepad in flat and PS VR.”
It seems that there is a certain title called Downward Spiral: Prologue, will PlayStation VR ever get to experience this? Maybe as DLC or is it strictly for PC?
“Prologue was VR taste of what was to come so you really don’t have worry about missing out on PS4. Horus Station offers a full 4-6 hour zero-G adventure. And if you are not interested in gunplay we have a second mode in the campaign called Explore that removes hostiles and leaves just exploration, puzzles and atmosphere.”
In your experience and what you know now, what are the top three tips that you would give to someone who was looking to start creating in VR that you wish you were told when you started?
“That is a huge question and we have learned a lot from our journey with Downward Spiral. Our main advice is to experiment constantly, get a lot of feedback from different directions and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Given the catalog of PlayStation VR games and experiences growing and what seems like the player base is growing at a rapid rate, what would you say to someone on why they should select Downward Spiral: Horus Station?
“We love the classic science fiction movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Star Wars and so on. We are bringing that feeling into gaming with Downward Spiral: Horus Station. The game is not a horror but a sci-fi thriller with a strong focus on environmental storytelling. We just want to let players loose on the station and figure out by themselves what has happened. That means no dialogue, interrupting cutscenes and no audio logs. With the zero-G movement, Horus Station provides an exciting and atmospheric experience that we think no sci-fi fan should miss.”
Are there any special projects or titles coming up that you would like to mention that we should be aware of?
“We have new projects in the works, but we have to wait a little longer before announcements.”
And if everyone wanted to keep up with what is going on, where should they go?
“Downward Spiral: Horus Station is coming to PlayStation 4 with optional PS VR support this August. If you want to catch the latest updates and news first, please check our social media channels and website.
I really want to thank Gregory Louden and Arttu Rajala for taking time out of their busy day to give us more of an insight and what we can expect with Downward Spiral: Horus Station when it comes to PlayStation this August.
Also, check out the review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.