The anime VR adventure Dyschronia Chronos Alternate is now available on PSVR 2, the new next-gen virtual reality headset for PS5, and this puzzle-based game required some thought to ensure it would work in VR.
Designing unique UI and UX for VR is something that is constantly evolving, and the release of PlayStation VR2 means developers need to think harder about how to immerse players in more complex and interactive worlds. For example, PSVR 2 offers haptic feedback that can make VR worlds feel more physical; Read my PSVR 2 review to learn more about the hardware.
The goal of developer MyDearest Inc. (opens in new tab) was to create a VR world that pulls the player and the avatar, the character you played, together in order not to lose the immersion.
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate: a PSVR 2 Achievement
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate anime PSVR 2 game features unique VR game design (Image credit: Perp Games / MyDearest, Inc.)
Director Ao Matsuoka tells me: “In order to eliminate the discrepancy between the player and the character in the game as much as possible, we had to work on the UX to drive the interactive user interface, eliminate the friction and make it easier to play the to become a protagonist.”
Saying that this wasn’t easy, Matsuoka-san explains, “There was a great deal of information in areas closely related to the game’s worldview and the progress of the investigation, so we had to pay attention to it, not just the feel of immersion, but also how to structure the user interface so that players can understand the game more easily and operate it comfortably.”
The team used PSVR 2’s Adaptive Trigger technology in the Sense Controllers and haptic feedback to ensure players feel connected to the world, Matsuoka-san says when you’re holding a gun, the trigger has “a power which resembles the trigger” as you die in-game, the headset will rumble.
These features support immersion, but the team had to overcome creative hurdles unique to Dyschronia Chronos Alternate. This PSVR 2 game is a three-part mystery packed with puzzles and coupled with a unique narrative structure. Getting the virtual reality experience to work required some creative solutions.
“Sometimes we wanted to temporarily mislead the player with visual effects, but achieving such effects was more difficult than in a flat-screen game,” says Matsuoka-san, explaining that it’s difficult to mislead players in a virtual space to guide, since the players can move freely. “In VR games, the player has complete freedom of movement. Even if you want to hide something, the player will find it.”
The team also had to think about how to integrate elements that are the mainstay of adventure games, like flowcharts and logs that contain clues and story details. “In looking at these points,” explains Matsuoka-san, “we sometimes took our cues from movies rather than flat-screen games, and we also abstracted and recaptured everyday features and restructured them to fit the worldview. Thinking about implementing these things was difficult but fun.”
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate: Puzzle Design in VR
Stealth is a part of Dyschronia Chronos Alternate and the developer is making this seem real in PSVR 2 (Image credit: Perp Games / MyDearest Inc.)
Puzzle design in PSVR 2 also presents challenges. Dyschronia Chronos Alternate features many brain teasers designed to work in virtual reality, meaning developing gameplay that works when players are surrounded by an immersive world . If you’re looking to create a VR experience or game, you can learn a little from the Dyschronia team’s approach.
“We had to be very careful that what we were creating wasn’t just a puzzle to solve a puzzle, because VR is a world that completely surrounds you and a sudden puzzle element that doesn’t fit in that space becomes causing a loss of immersion, which even affects the story as a whole,” explains Matsuoka-san.
The developer continues, “Obviously this is something that needs to be considered with flat screen games, but with VR you have to be more aware of it, and since Dyschronia Chronos Alternate is a story-driven adventure, the loss of world reality and immersion is a special one fatal problem.
They add, “As such, we spent a lot of time on the overall structure of the game, first allowing puzzles and stealth to appear naturally in the story, and then as a reward for solving those puzzles and stealth, the mystery the player wanted.” know was solved and developed into a new story. We also incorporated this structure into the game design, shared the worldview with the artists and engineers, and adjusted the visuals and interactions to make each puzzle gimmick feel like a natural part of that world.
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate: PSVR 2 Worlds Theme
Puzzles in VR need to be approached differently than in flat screen games; you can’t hide too much in the world (Image credit: Perp Games / MyDearest, Inc.)
Sharing how the team approached puzzle design in VR raises some interesting questions about how developers create virtual worlds now and the future of VR.
“Artists and game designers creating VR experiences need to be particularly imaginative and have a high level of abstract thinking in terms of ‘space’ and ‘human physical limitations,'” says Matsuoka-san. “As such, by designing levels and avatars that leverage and expand on these abilities, we can create experiences that are unique to VR.”
The developer provides an example of this thinking in Dyschronia; Play involves looking up and leaning into play from the shadows. What’s a simple thing in flat-screen games becomes an immersive act in PSVR 2.
“It’s simple, but it immerses the player more deeply in the narrative experience, increasing the reality of their presence in the world and the sense of realism and danger,” says Matsuoka-san. “I believe imagining how players move in the space you create is a skill that is particularly sought after by VR artists and game designers.”
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate: The future of VR?
In PSVR 2, actions can feel more physical as the haptics cause the headset to vibrate (Image credit: Perp Games / MyDearest Inc.)
What does the future of VR look like? With the launch of PSVR 2, Meta’s commitment to Quest 2 and the Metaverse, and the teasing of not just a new Samsung VR headset but a first Apple VR device, it seems VR is back in vogue.
“Meta’s Quest 2 has dramatically increased the number of VR users. And with the launch of PSVR 2, we believe that a new type of player, different from those in Meta Quest 2, will enter the VR market,” says Matsuoka-San.
They add: “People who aren’t 100 percent interested in VR but are interested in new gaming experiences and that’s why they’re buying PSVR 2. We think the VR market will continue to grow as more people get interested in VR.” , will join the community with Quest 2 and more passionate gamers will enter the VR world with PSVR 2.”
Matsuoka-san further explains, “The VR market will continue to grow and users will demand more challenging VR games with new experiences. It’s been seven years since PSVR 1 and Oculus Rift when they launched in 2016 and many good VR games have made it, but we’re hoping to create a new style of VR gaming without being tied to it, one new style of VR games.”
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate is now available for PSVR 2 (with expanded features) and the original three-part game is available for Meta Quest 2. Visit the Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate official website (opens in a new tab) for more information.