Eden River HD launches today in early-access form. While the game is pending some optimization updates before its full launch on Steam in late August, we got an early glimpse at this serene title which is being launched with Oculus Rift DK2 support.
When we got our first look at Eden River HD just a few weeks before the Oculus Rift DK2 shipped, there was an unshakable thought in the back of my mind—”I can’t wait to try this on the DK2.”
Eden River HD by indie VR studio Unello Design is one of only a handful of virtual reality experiences we’ve seen so far that’s designed as a calming experience rather than an objective- or conflict-driven game. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but virtual reality’s ability to immerse you can be utilized equally as well to bring calm to one’s life as it can to bring action.
In Eden River HD, you float slowly down a wide river in a serene setting. Beneath you is reflective water with a bed of round stones, above you is a lush canopy, and surrounding you is the sound of babbling water accompanied by a mellow original soundtrack composed by Unello Design’s Aaron Lemke.
Here’s a taste of what we thought about Eden River HD on our first pass with the Oculus Rift DK1:
Eden River HD is one of the most peaceful games I’ve ever played. It truly does feel like an escape from a busy world. On occasion while playing, I’ll take my focus off of the river and look at the pixels that make up the image in front of me. I find it amazing that those little dots and some vibrations from my headphones can inspire such peace and tranquility. Experiences like this are only going to become more powerful as resolution increases, and even more so with the advent of multiplayer capability in these types of games.
Aside from Adventure mode, there’s also Endless mode, which runs you down a randomly generated riverscape with ambient river noise but no background music—perfect for pulling up your own peaceful playlist in the background. The original Eden River demo (Adventure and Endless mode) is also included with some graphical updates.
Eden River HD also offers a more polished user experience thanks to a new menu system which lets you select between the game’s various modes. The entire game is controlled with nothing but head movements. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself unmoving in the river. Tilting your head left or right moves the view correspondingly, and you use your position to select the desired game mode. There’s a glowing orb that you look at to confirm the selection. As you hold your gaze on the orb, flower pedals spawn around it sequentially. If you keep your eyes on it long enough to complete the flower, your selection is confirmed.