As you look over the Antartic Ocean from the comfort of a very stylish apartment, you wonder where Loading Human Chapter One is going to take you. One of the first VR projects by Untold Games, Loading Human is about exploring the nature of relationships within a sci-fi world, and you soon learn your purpose within this context.
You may have guessed from the game’s title that Loading Human is an episodic adventure, with Chapter One being the first of three parts. You take on the role of Prometheus who has a mission given to him by his father to travel to the Eagle Nebula and retrieve an element called the Quintessence. This element is to help Prometheus’ father beat death. The parallel to Greek mythology is an obvious one, being named after the character that brought fire to humans.
Chapter One is mainly a series of Prometheus’ memories as he arrives at the Antarctic base, trains for his mission, and interacts with his father, his father’s assistant Alice, and the base’s AI system. There are four past memories that you experience as well as a couple of modern day sections that set up the next chapter. To describe Chapter One as an introduction would be apt, though pacing seems to be a bit rushed towords creating emotional attachments from players about the characters.
The main subjective focus of this is the character Alice, the lab assistant that Prometheus falls in love with. Since there are only a few memories you won’t explore the full journey of a relationship blossoming and changing, but instead a few key moments that show how they evolve. It’s easy to see why this approach has been taken and that’s because the plot demands it, but there is an underlying feeling that maybe the relationships would been more meaningful if stretched over the three chapters. Of course I don’t know how the next two chapters will pan out, but when the credits did roll, I didn’t feel a connection to the characters like Prometheus is supposed to, be it love or hate.
It’s clear Untold wants players to love Alice but is hard to do due so when there isn’t much in the script that makes you fall in love with her. Similarly, Prometheus’ father just comes across as an unlikable and selfish man, albeit one that is also a genius. In general the characters are a bit bland compared to the environment they exist in, and it is only near the end of the 3 to 4 hour playtime that a major point of interest presents itself, the answer to which won’t be available until the next chapters.
The majority of Loading Human is a point and click title set in virtual reality. To advance the plot you’ll need to solve problems, though the majority of these are quite simple. A couple of puzzles did stand out as fairly tricky, but that was down to not being able to find the objects I needed in a timely fashion. If you do get stuck you can press a button to get the base AI to give you a clue, but this system is a bit hit and miss. A couple of times I was given clues to things I’d already solved, so was left to experiment with my surroundings until a solution was eventually found.
The environments do look really nice in Loading Human, from sitting in the apartment looking out at the Antarctic Ocean to descending into the lab where you learn about the mission, it looks great. The mission briefing is given through a series of holograms which look fantastic, especially when you wander up close to them. The character models are good but there animation is very robotic. Alice is the character you see most and the way she walks seems unnatural at times, as if she is really concentrating on getting perfect steps. Her facial expressions don’t transition as smoothly as they could, either.
Moving about in Loading Human can be a bit frustrating at times. There is a tutorial before the game begins but moving around never felt completely smooth. Using the Move controllers you change direction by pointing at something then pressing a button to face it, but you then need to keep the button pressed in order to move toward it. If you need to move backwards you need to point the remotes behind you, while crouching requires pointing down while pressing buttons with standing requiring the opposite. Turning your head allows you to look in a direction and kind of drift to the left or right while walking forward, as if Prometheus were a bit tipsy. It’s hardly a smooth system and Loading Human would have benefited from having head tracking.
While much of the game is about solving problems there is one section with three minigames, split between shooting targets, pressing buttons on a ship stabiliser, and navigation a spaceship through hoops. The target practice game is the best of the three as you use the move controllers to aim and fire at incoming rocks, while the stabiliser game tests your reactions. The ship navigation was the most frustrating as, for some reason, the Move controls weren’t being picked up as accurately, leading to the ship either veering off course or diving sharply. It took a few tries before passing that particular challenge.
While Loading Human does look great, there are times when the immersion is broken. In quite a few areas Prometheus’ hands will pass through buttons and walls instead of stopping when hitting them. There was also one point where I had to reboot the game because the game refused to register my pushing of a button, despite all my other interactions being registered. Luckily when the game reloaded it went straight into the next scene so I wouldn’t have to worry about the lift’s button again.
Loading Human is an interesting experiment that looks to explore relationships through VR. However in Chapter One these feel rushed instead of being built at a steadier pace. The price point may also be off putting, as a £30 game that lasts 3 to 4 hours, that is only the first part of a trilogy. Untold Games have crafted a VR world that looks fantastic for the most part but it is populated by characters that come across as two dimensional, and a story that might be better enjoyed once all the chapters have been released.
Version tested: PlayStation VR