The medium of video games allows us to experience many different things, from a futuristic combat strewn battlefield, to a whimsical land of zany creatures. It even allows us a glimpse into three people’s imaginations of what a surreal life might be like once we die. This is exactly what the three developers at White Lotus Interactive aim to do with XING: The Land Beyond.
Running in the vein of firs- person puzzle games like Myst (a personal favorite), XING is filled with puzzles to solve and beautiful environments to navigate. There isn’t any heavy platforming or combat to deal with, but XING will test your brain with a variety puzzles. This is a difficult path to tread, but from my brief time with the game at PlayStation Experience, I found the puzzles to be be intelligent — not obnoxiously difficult, but not so easy that the game becomes a breeze to run through. I actually had to think.
Controlling the environment around you becomes a part of the puzzle solving. Turning day to night while make previous paths accessible, and switching the weather may reveal a solution that was not previously available. Each switch casts a new aesthetic upon the world, granting a visually unique prowess to the standard puzzle solving fare.
There’s something to be said for the simple beauty of the game world too, whether it be night or day, sun or rain. The stories of each of the dead souls you are trying to save are told through poetry on various stones throughout the world, and the elegantly written prose translates to the world around you.
First-person puzzle games releasing in 2016 seem to all have their hand in VR somewhere in the development cycle. The slower and more purposeful movement with stunning environments to look at just fits the platform extremely well. While there are currently no announced plans to bring the game to PlayStation VR, it’s at least in development for Oculus. Koriel Kruer, one of the three people developing the game, mentions over on the PlayStation Blog that they are looking into PSVR as it feels like the right fit for their game.
I was happy to get my hands on XING: The Land Beyond at PlayStation Experience. Its method of storytelling, puzzles, and overall visuals are done in a subtle method of artistry that is becoming lost on many developers. It allows a certain depth in not showing it’s full hand, and I can’t wait to see what further mysteries the land beyond holds when it releases on PS4 next year.