If you could be a local DJ what kind of music would you play? Would you play music of things that you liked or try to play more from the local independent artists? What type of calls do you think you would take from the callers? Being a DJ can be hard work when especially when things may not go the way that you intended. So does developer Numinous Games show us what it’s like to have a sense of humor and use our imaginations? Let’s find out with AREA MAN LIVES for PCVR and Quest/2.
AREA MAN LIVES is a narrative radio drama that unfolds around you in VR while you do your best to keep the radio station humming along where you record commercials, interview callers, and try to piece together how your actions inside the station impact your listening audience in scenarios so wild that they can only live in your imagination. So before you go live with taking calls and playing the local hits, there are a few things to be aware of. First, to get the most out of everything, you will want your headphones and make sure your microphone is turned on. Second, use your imagination and make it yours. Third, make sure those controllers are charged. And finally, just have some fun. I am going to say this upfront, my footage stopped recording for some reason, so I was only able to capture the earlier parts and the audio where I was speaking was not being recorded. I never want to spoil anything, but I was pretty much too far in to realize it, so my apologies. With all that said, let’s continue…
When you first start AREA MAN LIVES, you are welcomed to the tutorial of sorts that gets you used to move around as well as learning how to grab items with your hands. You will notice that your hands are not normal-looking hands, but monkey hands and you actually get to learn about these a little bit more when you start recording some of the commercials. When it’s time to start, you will need to pick one of the three pieces of artwork that will work as your saved files. But it’s not simply just click to start, in fact, you will have to read out loud in order to actually start the game which really is a refreshing way to go about things.
Part of the fun in the game is being creative with how you interact with callers and record commercials. Yes, you use your own voice to interact and record. Which again is a refreshing take when it comes to the interaction. You can be as serious or as comical as you want and use whatever voice you feel seems to fit. One of the first commercials I recorded was about an emergency broadcast and got to ad-lib my own beeps. And this continues when you get to answer the phone and take calls. Your greeting to the callers can be anything you like and you get to see the words you just said appear right in front of you.
You will have tasks that you will want to complete like play records, play the news, and even play and record commercials. Of course, this is AREA MAN LIVES and it’s when you get started interacting with the AREA MAN is when things start to get even crazier. The Area Man is on a mission to save the day, however, he has no idea who he is supposed to be saving or what from. All you know from the interactions is that based on the music and commercials that are playing, the Area Man believes this will get him to the destination that he needs to go to, but things well, put it this way, do not go as planned for him as the Area Man will and does die over and over again. In fact, there are 98 different ways for the Area Man to die and some of them are so comical you cannot help but laugh. I mean, there is nothing like dying by a flash mob of dogs dressed in dinosaur costumes.
Let’s talk about graphics and sound. The art style really works here on the Quest 2. Things are clear from the record player to the map on the wall to even the words which are important when you have read out the commercials. It really feels like you are immersed in this small local radio station. Sound is going to play an important part. At times I closed my eyes so I could just hear the smaller details with the audio and being able to interact using my voice is nothing I didn’t think I would have enjoyed as much as I did here. Then, when you add the voice talents of Ronan Farrow, Joel McHale, and Max Greenfield joining in, you know you are in for a good time.
There are a few things that I would love to see added. First, my finger pointer didn’t seem to register a few times. It happened like two or three times, but it did happen. I am sure an update can easily fix this. Second, the use of your voice. It does work, however, there were times when I would say something and I could see the words and it came up with something that sounded like something I said but didn’t actually say. This didn’t happen all the time and the times it did happen, it just made it that much more amusing. And finally, just more. The way Numinous Games has allowed the player to interact with the game is unique and enjoyable and I can see this becoming more of a standard personally, I can’t wait for it.
AREA MAN LIVES allows us to interact and brings quirkiness. It shows that not everything needs to be full of action, but can be funny to be entertaining. Sometimes we get busy in our lives and become so serious that we forget to laugh at the world around us. And could we all use a little more laughter in our lives?
AREA MAN LIVES is out now for the Oculus Rift/S and Quest/2 on the Oculus Store, Steam VR, and Viveport. A review code was provided.
To learn more about Numinous Games, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Also, check out the AREA MAN LIVES interview.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have go check out the other funny ways the Area Man doesn’t survive.