by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
IN A NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE
While trawling the depths of the indie village at this years Gamescom I couldn’t help but spot VirtuaVerse for its interesting art style. I might try to be unaffected by the huge number of games opting for the cyberpunk aesthetic in the run up to Cyberpunk 2077, but I can’t help but get drawn in by those stylings as well. I don’t know if it’s the vibrant neon colours, the gritty noirish elements, or the grim rendition of the future, but I love how cyberpunk looks, especially VirtuaVerse’s pixel-art style. But the game is also thankfully more than just a pretty face.
VirtuaVerse is developed by Theta Division, and I was surprised once I started playing it to discover it’s a point-and-click adventure of LucasArts vintage. It has the same classic puzzle solving, allowing you to use, pick up, combine, or examine elements of your surroundings, which is the main way players interact with the world. The pixel-art style is also very reminiscent of those games, especially Full Throttle, the art direction focusing on character portraits and fixed environments which your character can explore.
But I was also very happy to see the same humour that the LucasArts games had — Cyberpunk is over the top and isn’t a genre that was ever supposed to take itself seriously, so it’s nice to see a game of that genre which is willing to laugh at itself, especially when there are so many current Cyberpunk games trying too hard to be taken seriously, Cyberpunk 2077 included. It’s also very in keeping with LucasArts for games to laugh at their own over the top elements — the way Grim Fandango basically creates a satire of Casablanca and film noir in its second act for example. The humour in those games is also created by the absurd ways in which you try to combine objects and items. From what I saw VirtuaVerse is pretty on point with both of these.
While the aesthetic is the cyberpunk one we are typically familiar with, combining it with classic LucasArts pixel-art style and their ability to laugh at themselves, actually makes it a far more accurate genre representation. It’s super refreshing to see in our current culture of basically worshipping Cyberpunk yet also misunderstanding its genre origins. VirtuaVerse doesn’t have a release date yet, but from what I’ve seen, I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to reminisce over LucasArts puzzle games, or who wants to explore a Cyberpunk city with a selection of puzzles and a varied cast of characters.