Loading Human could be Oculus Rift’s first indie hit

We go eyes, ears and virtual hands-on with a prototype virtual reality game

We’ve just been to try out a new title being developed for Oculus Rift called Loading Human, a first-person adventure game from Italian developer Untold Games. It won’t be out for a while - they’re aiming for the end of this year - but it’s a glimpse of the kind of indie title that could make virtual reality huge.

Ghostly crab hands

Through the magic of an Oculus Rift, a Razer Hydra and some headphones - into a plush, futuristic apartment. A woman is calling your name. It’s your birthday.

You stumble around for the first couple of minutes getting used to the Hydra controls and your new hands - weird ghost’s hands that can only grip, giving you the dexterity of a excitable crab. But it’s amazing how quickly your brain does away with the physical sense of a controller and accepts these mad new manipulators as what it has to work with, and you soon learn to grasp objects, use them for tasks and throw them at things (then scrabble around on the floor when you realise you need them for something).

Robotic memory vessel

The story starts from a really interesting premise: the first scene ends with a time-loop back to the beginning, and it soon becomes apparent that most of the game takes place within your own memories. You soon discover that you’re not really as human as you think - your character is terminally ill, and his personality is in the process of being uploaded into a robot. By replaying your memories, solving puzzles and navigating a kind of Tron-like simulation-within-a-simulation, you hope to reassemble your personality within the machine.

The game's lead creator sees it as the successor to classic point-and-click adventures like the Monkey Island and Myst series, with a similar focus on narrative and problem-solving. It's just that now, the pointing and clicking is a lot more sophisticated, and a lot more convincing. 

There’s no question that the makers of Loading Human have plenty of work to do if they’re to get their game ready to be among the first games on the consumer Oculus Rift. It’s still very much a prototype, with all the bugs and glitches you’d expect from such an early version. But it has that compelling, interest-snagging nature recognisable in good indie games, with decent writing and level design visible even at this stage. While the big studios bide their time and wait to see if virtual reality will take off, indies like Loading Human are already leading the charge.