Hubris Might Give PC VR Its Graphics Fix After Lone Echo
Hubris is visually stunning and has promising gameplay mechanics too. Something nedes to be done about that voice acting, though. Read on for our Hubris hands-on!
The release of Lone Echo 2 earlier this month was something of a solemn moment for PC VR fans. The game set a graphical benchmark for VR visuals, but with Meta’s funding now focused on the Oculus Quest 2 and no new announced VR games from Valve, it seemed like it might be a long time before we got another high-fidelity adventure for VR’s most advanced headsets. That’s an especially sour note given the recent news of high-end devices like the Varjo Aero and Pimax Reality Series.
But Hubris suggests that might quite not be the case.
No, this new VR adventure — the first full title for headsets from Belgium-based Cyborn — doesn’t quite match Jack and Liv’s zero-gravity adventures in the graphics department. But, by god, does it give it a good go; set in a far-flung universe, you play as a recruit of the Order of Objectivity (which our review comments section will be dismayed to learn I’m not joining) that crash lands on a mysterious planet.
Yes, there’s a story about… something, but I was too busy taking in the game’s fantastic landscape to pay too much attention. This alien planet is one of gritty rock formations, lush underwater wildlife and dense otherwordly architecture. Even after the impressive debut trailer earlier this year, I was surprised to jump into the experience and discover just how rich it appears. Convincing character animations and detailed enemy designs also go well with the bright color palette. It really is a breath of fresh air.
Hubris isn’t just a visual feast, though. Cyborn seems to have a good grasp on the first-person fundamentals, including climbable surfaces, over-shoulder inventory systems and summoning a pistol with a quick press of a button. The 20-minute demo includes some combat, in which you dive underwater and blast squids before taking their tentacles to craft (weirdly) fleshy ziplines to traverse. In fact, swimming seems to be a crucial part of the game, with a push of your arm in any direction propelling you through the water. It doesn’t feel quite as natural as other control schemes I’ve seen like in Freediver: Triton Down, but it works well.
Not quite as welcome is the focus on trial and error platforming, which includes some sequences in which you’ll have to swim all the way back to the start of a series of jumps should you misjudge a gap. It’s dependable enough that you can avoid too much pain but, still, judging the distances of jumps with no sense of your own momentum or feeling your feet on the ground is a strange feeling that doesn’t really work.
Combat, meanwhile, seems promising in this opening phase. Underwater battles with a rechargeable gun do at least feel different to what’s on offer with other VR shooters, though the only on-foot combat I saw was a very simple shooting gallery against small bugs, so I’ll be interested to see what else Cyborn has in-store here.
We also have to talk about the voice acting which is, to be direct, not very good at all. It’s a shame to see Cyborn build up such an interesting and gorgeous world, only to have it squandered by the cheesy, poorly-delivered lines on offer in the demo. If the developer wants to have its new lore taken seriously, it’ll want to do another pass on this front.
Hubris is no longer coming in 2021, but should touch down on PC and PSVR in 2022. It’s also due on Oculus Quest, though we’ll be waiting to see if Cyborn can keep the title as visually appealing on that platform.
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