App Lab Roundup: Puzzles and Destruction
Each week we will be taking a look at some of the upcoming videogames, demos and unique experiences available through Oculus App Lab for the Meta Quest headsets. Many of these videogames come in varying states of completion, so each title is subject to change.
This week we’re solving puzzles and causing carnage!
To say Unblocking is a Tetris-style clone does it a bit of a disservice. There are definitely Tetris elements at play; you’re presented with Tetris shapes and you must use them to solve puzzles or clear lines from a board. However, they don’t fall from the sky, they’re selected purposely.
In the puzzle mode, you’re tasked with clearing all of the blocks from the playing area. To do this, you must select a shape and overlap it against the blocks, making them disappear. Sometimes it’s as simple as using a cross over a cross-shape, other times you must clear one shape in order for the blocks above them to fall and create a new shape to erase.
In the arcade mode, things feel a bit more Tetris-y. Only again, you’re placing the blocks wherever you like. Here you are presented with four shapes, of different colours and the goal is to create horizontal lines to erase those blocks. You can chop and change the shapes and colours you place in the hopes of creating the perfect lines, but often you’ll need to overlap colours, blocking progress.
Unblocking is a devious little puzzler. On the surface, it appears simple, and the opening puzzle levels are exactly that. However, as you progress things become rather taxing. Sadly, as this is only a demo, there’s not much to experience, but what’s here is certainly an enticing opportunity for the developers to bring us a great puzzle game. The virtual reality doesn’t lend much to the game beyond playing in a fancy room, but it’s hard to complain when the puzzling is as good as this.
No More Rainbows Beta
I’m going to get this out of the way. I love this game.
At first, when No More Rainbows informed me I would need to use my arms to scoot along the floor I rolled my eyes and gave a sigh of exasperation. So many of the App Lab games recently have used the same technique. Whether you’re pretending to be a baby, a squid or a dog, there’s a game that wants to mimic crawling forward, and so far, I’ve hated each one.
But this? This works. You play as a snarling gorilla monster who seemingly hates happiness (much like myself). You wake up, smash the alarm clock and discover the land has been taken over by unicorns, fruity cute gumballs and bright colours. The tutorial tells you that you can take small leaps forward by swinging your arms. Then, if you do that with more force, you’ll kind of ‘Incredible Hulk leap’ all over the place.
What transpires from here is a literal assault on joy. You get to explore these bubblegum worlds leaping around, climbing vertical surfaces, bounding over bottomless chasms to smash anything cute you can see. Busting open the gumball creatures causes their soul to vanish inside of you, which then opens new worlds for more smashing.
I played this on a day where I was a little aggravated, which may have helped. However, the locomotion controls and the concept itself would have stood out to me anyway. Who doesn’t want to smash the smug happiness out of something so saccharine? As with Unblocking above, this is only a demo/beta, but it’s a generous one. Still, I reached the end and found myself craving more. I’ve never felt so happy destroying the happiness of others.