Ambiens & BMW M2 Mixed Reality – XR Products

What is XR (Extended Reality).?

Imagine being fully immersed in a design or experiencing a new product before its being build. Or meeting a friend face to face when they are really across the world. Extended reality or XR encompasses around virtual reality, Augmented reality, and mixed reality.

VR is an experience of fully entering into an environment to interact with virtual objects instead of viewing an interface and only imagining it.

AR Alternatively is an experience in which virtual elements are added to the real world rather than a person being immersed in a virtual world. These elements are integrated to fit appropriately in real spaces.
MR is a mix of these experiences with Virtual and Real-world elements interacting within one environment. These forms of XR are made possible with an array of devices including Mobile and VR Headsets.

Extended Reality (XR) is nothing, but an umbrella term comprises of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

Extended Reality XR

There could be endless applications of XR, following are a few of the major domains: –

  • Entertainment & Gaming
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Food
  • eCommerce and Retails
  • Education
  • Real State
  • Workspace
  • Defense
  • Travel and Tourism

Among them, two applications excite me the most as their practical implementations are productive and have a huge scope for further development for the betterment of the world. These two products are: –

  1. Ambiens
  2. BMW M2 Mixed Reality

1. Ambiens XR Viewer

These days, professional Architects, and real estate professionals face difficulties in explaining their projects to clients or potential investors. Convincing someone without any imagination is quite difficult, to overcome this issue, Ambiens (A Tech Creative Company) came up with an XR visualization and simulation solution where the entire house is simulated using AR and is being presented to the customer as if they can feel the actual house. Their architects and designers go to the site and create a plan of how the place will look after the construction and the same is provided to the XR developer. Now, with the help of Augmented Reality, he created a virtual design and saves its link into a bar code, and that bar code is placed at that location. So, when the customer arrives, he just scans the barcode with his mobile phone and can observe the final product in that empty space.

Ambiens XR Viewer Application

Features of Ambiens

In the field of Real States, Ambiens provides some features of Realistic Visualizations advantages as follows: –

  • High-definition Rendering
  • Video Tour
  • 3-D Interactive Model and Maquette
  • Augmented Reality
  • 360° Interactive and Immersive Navigations

This product helps the customer to connect with Architecture and Designer’s thoughts and can make required changes as per the requirement, moreover, can feel the changes without any confusion.

Ambiens XR Viewer demonstration

Scope of Improvement

It’s a well-developed product but there are a few key points missing out there which adds a huge difference with the cost of any real-state property. Such as – “View from the Balcony”, and “Sunlight entering through the window”. Which could be added to this project if a responsive VR Simulation could have been created.

Suppose: –  

  1. In that product, while seeing the house, you go to the balcony and see a beautiful sight of a beach or some forest. This way, customers can feel like they are physically observing the property and that mesmerizing sight makes them buy the property that instant.
  2. Some people like natural light and the breeze entering the house through the windows. This can’t be presented with an AR demonstration. But in a Metaverse, it can. Based on the customer’s requirements, the builder can make necessary changes.

2. BMW M2 Mixed Reality

BMW proposed a gamic experience for those customers who want to be a part of a car race with the motto of “drive the change – change to drive”. Though this concept is still not available to the public but has the potential to change the way of traditional Car Race. In this, BMW used Mixed Reality where the driver drives a real car on a real track/road but what he views is not a real-world entity. He is basically taken into a Virtual Environment of his favorite car racing game, where this gadget demonstrates himself as a gaming car racer on a racing track and exciting music. This gadget creates the racing track on the basis of the road and obstacle of the real world and maps it into a virtual world with some additional gamic graphics and sound effects. There is also a virtual reality headset, which the driver of the aforementioned BMW M2 must wear. Inside this virtual reality headset is a virtual world that is programmed by BMW M to represent something called ‘M Town’.

BMW M2 Mixed Reality Complete Setup

They have also installed a “SmartTrack” by ART which is an integrated tracking system inside the car to track the driver’s head movement. It has 2 wind-angle cameras and a controller integrated into a single housing with the compatibility to sync with other devices. Which overall corresponds to increasing the frequency and decreasing the latency for the VR application, hence resulting in more accuracy.

BMW M2 Mixed Reality experience

Features of BMW M2 Mixed Reality

Team BMW tried to provide: –

  • Gamic and sporty experience with real motion, which in turn have negligible motion sickness.
  • Used SmartTrack for more accuracy
  • Provided 360° Navigation
  • High-Definition Rendering

Scope of Improvement

It could have been implemented in a real-world traffic scenario keeping all the traffic rules and regulations in mind. Moreover, a smart, and intelligent systems can detect all roadside signposts and modify the game scenario based on that making car driving more fun and relaxing. In this way, after a long and hectic working day, one can enjoy the ride back home with a gaming experience. Moreover, the Smart system will try to make the driving experience more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable.


The possibilities of XR are endless so what does the future hold for extended reality? It’s expected to improve with sophisticated and more affordable hardware, faster rendering, and more detailed modeling. More industries will implement XR in more areas including education, hobbies, health, sports, and work. Eventually, people may move into a mixed reality environment in an interconnected metaverse. This might include working together with innovators, production entities, and offices everywhere to increase knowledge, invent intelligently, implement resources intelligently, and solve more intricate problems. XR extends reality in many ways. Increasing understanding of the real world and inviting people to move beyond the edges of it into something previously unimaginable.


  1. SmartTracker – “” and “”
  2. Ambiens XR Viewer – “”
  3. BMW M2 Mixed Reality – “” and “” and “”

Final Fantasy 7 Remake


Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a highly anticipated and well-executed retelling of the classic 1997 RPG. The story follows the original plot closely, but with added depth and detail to the characters and their motivations. The game’s mechanics are a combination of real-time action and strategic command-based combat, which offers a satisfying level of challenge and engagement. The game’s aesthetics are stunning, with detailed character models and lush environments that truly bring the world of Midgar to life.

FF7 Remake can found here on Steam:


Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a retelling of the original Final Fantasy 7 game, which was released in 1997. The story takes place in a world where a powerful corporation known as Shinra is extracting a mysterious energy source known as Mako from the earth, which is causing the planet to become increasingly unstable. The game follows the story of Cloud Strife, a former member of a powerful military organization known as SOLDIER, who joins a group of eco-terrorists known as AVALANCHE to fight against Shinra and uncover the truth about Mako and the planet’s fate. Along the way, Cloud and his allies will encounter a variety of characters, each with their own agendas and secrets, and will uncover a web of political intrigue and ancient secrets that threaten to change the course of history. (Trying to avoid spoilers)


Final Fantasy 7 Remake features a variety of mechanics that help to make the game engaging and fun to play. One example is the game’s combat system, which is a mix of real-time action and turn-based strategy. The game features a variety of moves and abilities that players can use to attack, defend, and heal. Players control one character at a time and can switch between characters during battle.

While the player only controls one active character at a time, the player can also command other characters to take on the same actions through a command-based menu that slows time after it pops-up, allowing players to combo different attacks, defence and healing actions using multiple characters, as seen below.

Players also have the ability to use special moves, called “Materia” which are powerful abilities that can be customized to fit the players needs. Some materia grants increased stats such as increasing one’s health points or critical chance, while others grant special abilities such as a unique attack after dodging or healing spells. These materia can be upgraded by simply playing the game while equipping the materia.

The game also features a “Weapon Core” system that allows players to switch a character between different combat roles such as offense, healing, and support, based on the weapon they choose to equip on each character. It is essentially a leveling and upgrade system, allowing players to customize their characters and improve their abilities through spending exprience points to upgrade their weapons. Players earn experience through defeating enemies, completing quests and solving puzzles. These experience points can be used to improve the characters health, magic and abilities.

The “Materia” and “Weapon Core” systems allows players to build their characters using the playstyle they like as well as to serve as an added layer of strategy on harder difficulties.


Final Fantasy 7 Remake boasts strong aesthetics in a number of ways. One example is its detailed and highly-realistic character models and environments. The game uses advanced 3D graphics and motion capture technology to create highly-detailed and expressive character models, which are brought to life through realistic animations and facial expressions. Additionally, the game also features richly-detailed environments that are filled with interactive objects and richly-textured backgrounds that create a sense of immersion and realism.

Another example is the game’s use of lighting and special effects, which help to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. The game uses dynamic lighting to create moody, atmospheric environments, with shadows and reflections that change with the time of day and weather conditions. Additionally, the game also features spectacular special effects, such as explosions, fire, and magic spells that help to create a sense of spectacle and excitement.

Lens of the Hero’s Journey

The game makes use of it’s story to outline a Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey has 12 stages,

  1. Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Refusal of the Call
  4. Meeting with the Mentor
  5. Crossing the First threshhold
  6. Tests, Allies & Enemies
  7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
  8. The Ordeal
  9. Reward
  10. The Road Back
  11. The Ressurrection
  12. Return with the Elixir

FF7 Remake is the first installment of it’s trilogy, and includes the first 6 stages of the “The Hero’s Journey”, by including stereotypical elements in it’s story structure. It outlines how Cloud Strife, a cynical and disillusioned ex-SOLDIER for Shinra, acting as a mere mercenary, joins up with the AVALANCHE terrorist group to defeat SHINRA. He is reluctant to join them at first, but through the multiple jobs that he undertakes with them, overcomes many challenges and gains many allies both familiar and unfamiliar. This marks the beginning of Cloud’s Journey as a hero.

Lens of Juiciness

The game is well-designed in terms of “Juice” (dynamic feedback that rewards players for their actions). One example of “Juice” in Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the way the game rewards players for successfully executing combos in combat. As players chain together attacks, they build up a “combo meter” that, when filled, triggers a powerful “finisher” move that deals extra damage to enemies. This dynamic feedback, in the form of the growing combo meter and the satisfying payoff of the finisher move, encourages players to experiment with different combinations of attacks and to strive for higher combo counts. Additionally, the game also rewards players with different type of rewards such as experience points, items, and money. These rewards provides players motivation to keep playing and to try out different strategies in combat, which makes the game more engaging.

Another way that FF7 Remake offers juicy interfaces is through the materia and leveling systems outlined above. Through these systems, the player can create a certain playstyle for themselves through a unique combination of materia and leveling choices. Following which the players can test out these abilities during combat. This provides a continuous feedback loop for the player, informing them on what playstyles are most efficient or the most fun, allowing them to make more engaging choices during character customization.

Lens of the World

Through the Lens of “The World”, the game strongly builds a sense of immersion in the player, conveyed through detailed world-building and character development. . The game takes place in the city of Midgar, a sprawling metropolis that serves as the game’s primary setting. The game spends a significant amount of time exploring the city, depicting its various districts, and the different people who live there. The game also explores the political and social issues that arise in Midgar, such as poverty, pollution, and the exploitation of the city’s lower classes by the powerful Shinra corporation. This level of detail and nuance in the game’s setting creates a believable and immersive world that players can become fully invested in.

Additionally, the game also builds a strong sense of immersion through its character development. The game’s main characters, Cloud, Tifa, Aerith and Barret, among others, all have their own unique backstory, motivations, and personality. The game also explores the relationships between these characters, and how they change and evolve over the course of the story. The characters are complex and relatable, which helps to create a sense of immersion for the player as they are able to get to know the characters and understand their motivations.

Furthermore, the game also creates a sense of immersion through its use of cutscenes, voice acting and dialogue that convey a sense of continuity and realism. All this elements work together to create a believable and engaging story that players can become fully invested in, which is one of the key elements of the “The World” lens.

Lens of the Player

The game is also well designed through the lens of “The Player”, offering a range of difficulty levels and playstyles to appeal to different types of players.

One example of how Final Fantasy 7 Remake offers different playstyles to appeal to different types of players is through its difficulty settings. The game offers four difficulty levels: “Easy,” “Normal,” “Hard,” and “Classic.” “Easy” mode is designed for players who are new to the series or who want a more relaxed experience, with fewer enemies and less challenging combat. “Normal” mode is the default setting and offers a balanced experience for most players. “Hard” mode is designed for experienced players who want a greater challenge, with tougher enemies and more demanding combat. “Classic” mode is an additional difficulty level that is exclusive to the Remake, that emulates the gameplay style of the original game by introducing a more dynamic and strategic turn-based combat system.

This range of difficulty levels allows players to choose the type of experience that best suits their preferences and skill level, which makes the game more accessible and appealing to a wider range of players. Furthermore, the game offers players different playstyles by allowing players to customize their characters abilities, weapons, and spells, which allows players to tailor the game to their own preferences and playstyles.


Overall, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a faithful and visually stunning retelling of the beloved original game that will delight both new players and returning fans. The game is an excellent example of how to take a classic game and make it feel fresh and exciting while still staying true to the original.



Celeste is a widely popular indie game centred around themes of depression, anxiety, mental health and self-realisation. In it, the player controls a young girl named Madeline, who tries to climb Celeste Mountain while facing the challenges that arise from the natural landscape and from her own fractured sense of identity. 

The Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics and Technology

The core gameplay loop of Celeste is based around a series of successively more difficult platforming “rooms” that make up bigger chapters, carrying along the story as the player moves higher and higher up Celeste Mountain. One of Celeste’s most endearing features is its simplicity of controls and mechanics. The player only has three main movement options: the jump, the dash (a sudden burst of speed in a chosen direction) and the wall climb. Crucially, the player refreshes their dash every time they hit the ground, and are only allowed to cling to a wall for a short duration before they lose stamina and fall. The limited chances to use the dash force the player to strategize appropriately across a room: using momentum to launch yourself across a large gap, stalling in the air with a dash to just get enough horizontal coverage, and nearly frame-perfect dashes in a particular direction are all elements Celeste demands mastery of in order to climb through its chapters. 

Celeste doesn’t throw all of this at you at once, though, instead opting to introduce techniques progressively and building upon everything the player has learned to make them better and better at the game. This is the reason speedrunners the world over adore Celeste: playing the game makes you better at the game. After finishing the final level in the main story, any average player could go back to the start and find themselves remarkably faster, better and using advanced techniques with ease. Certainly, the levels are hard, but never to the extent of frustration. Instead, the quick respawn animation and emphasis on improvement over speed or death count gives the player an intrinsic motivation to keep going until they finally clear a tricky room or sequence.


If the gameplay loop is what draws the player in, the aesthetics keep them hooked. The 8-bit, minimalist artwork of Celeste is captivating and perfectly gels with the game’s tone and gameplay style. The screen rumbles when you boost, the respawn animation zooms in on the death point and fades out the entire screen, only to put you back in almost immediately. Each chapter has its own unique art style, and the background reflects the journey Madeline is taking up the mountain. Where the game truly shines and comes into its own, though, is the soundtrack. Each track feels like it was crafted for its level from scratch, and the 8-bit synth feels very natural within the setting. Both elements come together to create a thoroughly immersive, transformative and endearing experience, that not only lets you control Madeline, but truly become her and empathise with her journey through the course of the game. Perhaps this is why so many regard clearing Celeste’s toughest challenges as badges of honour: there is a deep empathy to the journey of the game as it relates to the journey of the player.


Celeste has a simple story at heart: a young girl climbs up a mountain while battling her self-doubt, anxiety and depression. From Granny’s mocking to the physical embodiment of Madeline’s dark side, the game portrays Madeline’s internal conflict through subliminal aesthetic messaging as well as astute storytelling and dialogue. Most importantly, however, is the idea of getting used to failing again and again just to get better (which the game encourages!), while using Madeline’s growing strengths and realisations. The game deftly ties together Madeline’s personal growth with her in-game movement options to lead the player on a parallel journey of personal improvement as well: one of patience and mastery of a craft. It’s not about defeating the voice in your head, says the game, it’s about working together with it. With a broadly appealing message and a subtly woven message about mental health underneath, Celeste uses simplicity of design and game design to drive home its key messages. 


The Lens of Accessibility

At its core, clearing Celeste’s rooms is a puzzle. From the very first bunny hops across a collapsing bridge to the final mid-air dashes off a moving platform, Celeste introduces progressively harder puzzles. The puzzles are structured as a means to mastery and intended as a labour of love. Try your first idea, see if it works, find an idea that is feasible, get the inputs perfect, and execute it. Rinse and repeat. Where Celeste finds its niche, however, is its Assist Mode. It offers a huge variety of assist options (additional dashes, slowing down the game, invincibility, etc.), and allows you to tune the degree of each of them that is enabled. The result is possibly the most accessible platformer ever created, with something for every possible player. On the other side are the challenge levels (B and C sides) and golden strawberries, which amp up the difficulty immensely and offer more content and challenge for those that desire it. 

The Lens of Obstacle

Celeste is tough. There’s no two ways about it. From the platforming challenges to the pursuit levels to the weaving between rows of spikes as a golden feather, it requires the player to be on top of their game to clear each room. The obstacles are presented both by the landscape itself, and from within Madeline’s mind. As the terrain gets more challenging and Madeline confronts more of her intrusive thoughts, the platforming becomes tougher. It feels like you’re fighting not just against the mountain, but against Madeline’s internal conflict as well. The difficulty represents the mountain, the journey of the player, as well as Madeline’s own struggles. It all comes to a crescendo at the peak, where Madeline finally embraces the supposedly evil Part of Her and uses their combined powers to get to the top.

The Lens of the Avatar

Madeline has wide empathetic appeal. She’s young, struggling with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and wants to show herself and the world what she’s capable of. It’s a premise most young people today find themselves in often. The approach the game presents to overcoming these issues, however, is non-intuitive: embrace every part of you and let go of what you can’t control. It’s an abstract thought that’s difficult to fully appreciate when conveyed verbally, but when presented through the metaphor of climbing a mountain, it sinks in. As the player overcomes platforming challenges and witnesses Madeline struggling with her own issues, there’s a deep empathy that arises from the parallel struggles. In this way, the game not only provides a meaningful and challenging experience, but conveys important lessons about approaching your own anxiety and dealing with mental health.

The Lens of the Toy

At the end of the day, Celeste is a game. From the moment you’re dropped into it, Celeste gives you no clues. You figure out how to move, and you figure out how to jump. Sure, the game gives you the basic controls (dashing, clinging to the wall, etc.), but whenever additional mechanics are introduced (spikes, moving platforms, launch bubbles, etc.) you’re largely left to poke them and see what they do. The game prioritises player exploration, and encourages the player to figure out the way they want to approach and solve each room. In a way, it’s like fitting Play-Doh into a shaped mould. There is an obvious way to solve the puzzle: mould it exactly. But you could also take a shortcut: tear it into two pieces and drop them in. The game never boxes the player in with rules or arrows pointing where to go: you are free to explore the branching paths and get the strawberries if you want to. You play at your pace, the way you want to. 

Escape from Tarkov


Escape from Tarkov is a hardcore and realistic online first-person action RPG/Simulator with MMO features and a story-driven walkthrough.

Official website:

Play demo:

Analysis through the Elemental Tetrad


Apart from normal FPS games, EFT has a rich and complete background setting.

The events of the Escape from Tarkov take place in the fictional Norvinsk’s region Special Economic Zone that became a gateway between Russia and Europe. Preferential conditions for large international companies, however, have not only attracted law-abiding businesses but corporations of dubious intent as well. In Tarkov, one of the largest cities in the region, a transatlantic corporation became the ground zero of a political scandal. Six months later, the political standoff escalated into an armed conflict involving UN peacekeepers, Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and two private military companies. The region’s borders were sealed off, and those trapped in the middle of this local warfare flare-up were isolated from the outside world.

The players will have to experience living in the skin of one of the mercenaries who survived the initial stage of the Tarkov conflict. After choosing one of the sides – USEC or BEAR – the player’s character starts to make his way out of the city. Tarkov is sealed off by the UN and Russian military, supply chains are cut, communication with operational command is lost, and in these conditions, everyone has to make his own choices of what to do and how to get out of the chaos-ridden metropolis.


  • Unlike other FPS games which clearly highlight the enemies, EFT focuses a lot on reality, so the whole background environment is on a dark scale, very close to the story setting.
  • The Ui design is also simple and gives the player a real feeling of trading in a flea market.
  • High quality of the gun models, each component has its own physic model, which makes the game very realistic as compared to other FPS games


  • No crosshair and no teammate sign. The game simulates the real war-like experience, you do not have any crosshair to assist shooting, so you need to assemble a good sight on your guns. Also, teammates will not be marked on your screen, you may just shoot your teammate without knowing it, so you need to keep communicating with your friends.
  • A giant map with no map display. You can easily get lost inside the giant map. You have to gradually remember all the locations as you keep playing.
  • Gun-assemble system. Almost all parts of the guns can be assembled freely, you can choose better parts for higher stats at a higher price. Players can freely come out with their own design of one gun.
  • Looting and market. Dynamic in-game loots, after successfully survive from a match, players can take out the loots and trade them with other players in the in-game market. Players can then use the money earned to purchase better armour and weapons.
  • PVPVE. Lots of AIs are added to the map with either good or bad weapons, they will shoot players with extreme accuracy. Player has to keep in mind the AIs when looting and combating other players.


Powered by unity, EFT has a very realistic physics engine.

Analysis through Lenses

Lenses of freedom

Unlike other FPS games or PUBG-like games, the only goal is to kill other players and win, Tarkov has more thrilling experiences. Players can choose to wear low-quality armour with a pistol and focus on looting without troubling other players or become an AI-hunter, focusing on killing the in-game bosses or wearing the best armour to seek for killings of players. Player has the freedom to decide what they do within a 45 minutes raid. They only need to arrive at the retreat position in the game on time. This kind of freedom makes the game more possibilities.

Another kind of freedom is the in-game market. Players can choose to become professional traders – make money by trading instead of raiding and fighting. These two layers of freedom extend the playing time greatly.

Lenses of Gambler’s mentality

Imagine you spend 50w in-game dollars on a set of equipment and you are preparing to kill all other players in a raid but after joining the raid for 2 minutes, get killed by an AI. Or you spend only 2000 dollars for a pistol, but you successfully kill an AI and find the body of that full-set player. You can easily earn a lot of money without much effort or lose a lot of money unwillingly. This is in line with the gambler’s mentality. Tarkov catches the mentality of the player and attracts players to use different strategies in games. The in-game currency cannot be purchased and it can only be earned within the game. Therefore, more and more players become gamblers to join a raid and use their luck to earn more money.

Lenses of Cooperation

Tarkov encourages cooperation. They provide an in-game broadcasting mic, to allow players to talk to surrounding players either teammates or enemies. This encourages not only team cooperation but also cooperation among strangers. You can negotiate with another player to peacefully retreat or give them some loot to make them ‘let you go’. Players can trust or distrust but cooperation opportunity is everywhere. Sometimes, two teams can fight together for killing a team of boss AIs, and old birds can help noobs find their task object. This is why EFT is a very ‘socialised’ game.

Lenses of Challenge

Unlike other FPS games, EFT is very difficult to learn. You have to remember the giant map, you have to complete NPC’s tasks, and you have to come out with a cheap but effective gun design. All of those challenges make EFT fun to watch but hard to play. A lot of players are attracted by streaming, but when they play themselves, they found out the game is actually very hard to survive at the start. However, as the playing time increase, you get familiar with the map and other combinations of issues, the game becomes easier and the shooting skills become a new challenge ( what all FPS games require ). This kind of setting makes the game very fruitful.


Try not to play it if you are timid 🙂

Death Stranding – More Than A Grab Simulator


Death Stranding is an action game developed by Kojima Production in 2019. It is the first game from critically acclaimed game director Hideo Kojima after his part-away from Konami. In Death Stranding, players act as Sam Porter Bridges to take a series of delivery quests and reconnect the broken United States. Initially, the game received polarised reviews. Some critics said Death Stranding is nothing but a boring walking simulator while some others claimed it is another masterpiece by the father of metal gear. However, after the outbreak of COVID and the release of the Director’s Cut, this highly innovative game was overwhelmingly approved and received a 93% positive rating on Steam.

Death Stranding Demo:


Death Stranding is set in the fictional United States in the near future. Human civilization suffers from a catastrophic event named the Death Stranding. Countless explosions called “void out” takes place all over the earth. Human beings come to know the existence of “Beach” – the transition place from our world to the afterlife. “Beached Things” (“BTs”) which come from the “Beach” start to roam around the land of the United States and threaten all living beings. Meanwhile, a substance called Chiral Matter is discovered all over the place and cut down all modern ways of connecting with people. In the aftermath of the catastrophes, people have enclosed themselves in a few cities scattered across the continental United States in order to survive. Players will control Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man of UCA, to connect each city and make America whole again.


Death Stranding has a unique utopian-apocalyptic aesthetic. With the help of futuristic technology, the player wanders across the deserted land. The game’s environments are often desolate and barren, with shades of gray, brown, and black dominating the color palette. This creates a sense of emptiness and isolation, which is fitting for a game that is centered around a post-apocalyptic world. Additionally, the game’s use of lighting is also noteworthy, as it often uses stark contrasts between light and shadow to create a sense of tension and unease. This further emphasizes the themes of loneliness and isolation in the game.



The core mechanic of Death Stranding is “walk”. The player needs to travel from one place to another while protecting cargo carried on themselves from being damaged. In order to make the walking process more interesting, the weight and the arrangement of cargo will affect your speed, gravity center, and how easily you are going to fall off. Meanwhile, the player needs to carefully plan their routines ahead since weather, landscape, and enemies will all greatly impact the difficulty of your delivery. For the battle system, Death Stranding takes the traditional action FPS game way. However, firing weapons not only cost ammo but also your own blood. Thus you need to carefully manage your resources in the battle compared with most other FPS games.

Lens of Endogenous Value

Death Stranding features a “like” system similar to social media nowadays that allows players to receive “likes” from delivery or contribution to NPCs or help other players. Pretty much the most meaningful things you did in the game will award your likes. Pick up cargo lost by other players? You get likes. Kill an enemy? You get likes. Drive past a sign created by another player? You get likes. The “like” system makes almost everything you do meaningful and helpful, which drives the player to keep playing. Moreover, “likes” awarded by other NPCs or players give them blood and flesh other than just cold-blood data on the machine. It again reinforces the sense of accomplishment and gives players motivation to continue playing.

Lens of Community


Although Death Stranding is a single-player action game. Some mechanics in the game makes players feel strongly bonded with NPCs and other players. The first noteworthy mechanic is the brilliant building-sharing system. The map will generate buildings built by other players in their game and some of your buildings can also be used by other players in their own game. Under normal circumstances, those buildings will be of big help for your travel across the land. Moreover, you can give “likes” to buildings from other players and vice versa. The building-sharing feature connects players together and greatly enhances the sense of community. In addition, the NPCs in the game will send your emails to share their thoughts or stories from time to time. When you visit their places, they will give your a warm welcome with AR holograms and human voices. All of these make players feel like being in a large community with NPCs and other players.

Lens of Unification

The core theme of Death Stranding is one word: connection. This concept is reflected almost everywhere in this game: The main task of players is to reconnect the cities together. The building sharing is to connect you with other players. As the storyline expands, players will regain knowledge from the past which is a connection from now to the past… Connection is repeatedly emphasized not only in the text but also in various game mechanics.

Lens of Surprise

The map in death stranding will randomly generate lost cargo from other players when the player enters a new area. Meanwhile, a sudden rain or storm can greatly slow your delivery down. In addition, you may get “likes” from other online players for your building when you are walking down the road. Different kind of surprises in this game makes the walking more interesting and have a brand new experience even though you may have traveled the same routines hundreds of times.

Bloons Tower Defense 6

Bloons Tower Defense 6 (BTD6) is a tower defense game, where the player place monkey towers to pop and destroy balloons trying to reach the end of the map. The game allows Singleplayer and Cooperative Multiplayer on both PC and Mobile platforms. It was initially developed as a tower defense flash game on the browser and the series was launched which included the development of other similar games with the theme of balloon popping (Bloons Monkey City, Bloons Tower Defense Battle etc).


The gameplay like, other tower defense games, is simple to understand and pick up. The player has money which can be used to buy different types of towers with different effects and use them to attack(pop) the balloons trying to reach the end of the map which will cause the player to lose lives. Towers have different attacking types, some having an area of effect attack while others specialise in popping multiple layers, slowing the balloons down, or providing utility effects like buffs to other towers. The towers can be upgraded into different paths to specialise in different effects, allowing many combinations and strategies. The balloons, unlike other tower defense games, have health in the form of layers. For example, red balloons take one pop to be destroyed, blue balloons take one pop and release red balloons. Balloons increase in layers with each layer releasing lower tier balloons when popped. Some types of balloons also have special abilites such as being stealth from most towers (camo) or requiring special popping power (lead). There are also giant balloons that release many stronger balloons and require a lot more attacks to be destroyed.
This requires the player to strategise how to combine different kinds of towers and lay them out optimally in order to be able to handle the different kinds of waves the game sends (Lens of Problem Solving).
All the maps also have difficulty levels which changes factors such as lives and costs of towers and upgrades to challenge the player (Lens of Challenge). This ensures that difficulties can be suited to each player’s preference and players do not find the game too easy after playing for long.

Screenshot of gameplay


The game features different kinds of maps with varying difficulties for the player to play on. Each map is unique in the pathing of the balloons and the areas that the player can build on. Some maps also have hidden secrets like pressing a button for redirecting balloons or mechanics like requiring money to unlock more areas to build towers on (Lens of Secrets).
This makes each play of the game different and interesting as the strategy for tower placing is always new.

Maps selection


At the start players are given only basic towers to use and these towers do not have any upgrades unlocked for purchasing yet. Players have to use the towers in order to gain experience and these experience points can be used to permanently unlock the different upgrade paths to allow players to purchase the upgrade in the game. There is also a rank system for the player that unlocks more towers on rank up and also grants players skill points to be used for spending on skill trees that give permanent buffs to towers and gameplay. On completion of maps, players are awarded badges that is shown on their profile page.
Players can spend skill points depending on what towers they want to focus on in the game, for example utility towers or specialised towers (Lens of Meaningful Choices).
When playing cooperative multiplayer, depending on the skill trees of the players, different players can choose different roles depending on the towers they build (Lens of Cooperation).
The experience, rank, skill tree system and badges are not only essential to the gameplay but also shows the progress and time spent by each player to achieve the rank which differentiates casual players and hardcore players (Lens of Visible Progress).

A screenshot of one of the skill trees
A high level player and his badges

Elemental Tetrad

This game focuses largely on game mechanics, having many towers with different kinds of projectiles and balloons with special properties. The storyline is short and simple, monkey popping balloons. Towers have interesting identities such as the Super Monkey which is a powerful tower imitating a super hero or Banana farms which is used for currency gain with the idea of ‘farming money’. With this weird storyline as a theme, the game uses cartoon graphics and animations to design each tower and balloon (Aesthetics). As this game was initially developed as a flash game, it retains the technology required which is simple keyboard and mouse inputs. Since BTD5, it has also been developed on mobile platforms to allow people to play on the go. From BTD1 up till BTD6, every release brings new types of monkeys and upgrade changes which is shows the development of the game mechanics that the game focuses heavily on.


Game Analysis – Subnautica (VR)

Written by Ian Hong

Look at those delicious acid mushrooms

I just bought Subnautica last night (thanks steam sale) and I will be offering my thoughts on its VR version. Three of my classmates have previously reviewed this game, but they were all based on the PC version. You can read their reviews here:

I seek to extend their insights through applying various analytical lenses and see whether the experience holds up in virtual reality. We begin our analysis by using the lens of essential experience as a succinct introduction to the game.

Lens 2 – Essential Experience

  • Exploring a dangerous and beautiful alien ocean in first person while trying to find materials to build a ship to escape the planet.
  • It’s like underwater single-player Minecraft with a more compelling plot and a pre-made world map

For those who understand things visually, take a one minute peek using this gameplay clip.

Watch from 4:20 to 6:20 at 2x speed

Now that we’re acquainted with what Subnautica is, let’s analyse why it is fun and what makes it fun. Why are we looking at this first? Because I am interested in how games drive intrinsic motivation, and I hope to apply some of these techniques to non-game contexts to make life easier. For example, imagine a system that lets you have fun while analysing your cashflow! (okay, I digress)

Lens 21 – Flow

What keeps the player engrossed in Subnautica?

The answer – it allows the player to enter a flow state, which can be described using the 8 major components of flow:

  1. A challenging activity requiring skill
  2. Concentration on the task at hand
  3. A sense of control
  4. A merging of action and awareness
  5. A loss of self-consciousness
  6. An altered sense of time
  7. Direct, immediate feedback
  8. Clear goals

For the aliens among us, this is what most people experience when they describe a game as ‘fun’.

How Subnautica aces this

According to Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun (courtesy of NM4260 Game Design), Subnautica employs hard fun and easy fun to bring the player into a flow state.

Hard fun is derived when the player pursues a challenging goal and achieves it through their mastery of the game mechanics. They then go on to pursue even tougher goals. Eg. you beat level 10 of Tetris without using the ‘store’ mechanic.

Easy fun emerges when a player explores and discovers something that wows them, and is driven by curiosity to explore more. Eg. you discover a new cat after changing up your furniture in Neko Atsume

// I am still in the process of editing this blog post, and will finish it soon. the rest of the post is in a draft form.

// describe how the game gives the player these 2 types of fun

  • the player ‘chooses’ the difficulty by venturing into unexplored territory, thus matching the challenge to the player’s skill level
  • as other guy mentioned, i agree that some players are unwilling to take risks, making the game boring

Lens 7 – Elemental Tetrad





83 fantasy secret wishes, helps player escape boring life


amazing aesthetics


very nice story

is it related to 19 the player: what do they like, don’t like, expect to see in game, what would they wanna see in the game? what do they like or dislike about the game [definitely the feedback button and the support that the team provides, with the latest 2.0 update released just dec 14 2022, 6 years after game release date!! madness.]

  • what did the fav game guy say about being player centric? or the worth it guy (optimisation)
  • 73 story machine interest curves?
    • agree about story moving slow. way to identify what the user wants.


really good graphics, 3d, so many mobs, such big map, yet had good framerate. also, feedback button, game being improved as it was being played.

vr supported. that brings me to the main bit of this analysis – virtual interface control

Lens 59 – Control (or 61 virt interfaces)

the vr UI is really bad as compared to other vr games available in 2023. it really adds vr support and nothing more in terms of immersion or juciness.

2d hud, head cursor, pda opening too close to the face, awkward movement mappings out of the box, arms are not tracked, leading to loss of immersion (or the opportunity cost of not helping with immersion over the PC version, controls not that meaningfully mapped) quick access slots inaccessible, quitting the game inaccessible, had to press all buttons to finally give up and google and find out that i had to press the escape button on keyboard.

vr interface. 61 virtual interfaces? 63 feedback for telling player. affordances. ui. avatar got wetsuit

// compare with other games like those specifically made for vr

  • freediver: horizon zero
  • pales in comparison to bonelab
  • vrchat at least hands follow your controllers

that said, it brings me to my favourite part of the vr adaptation of this game

Lens 29 – Secrets

a big part of the game is the wildlife, art of making convincing alien animal behaviour that triggers all of your innate phobias of what is dangerous.

plot, is forward force

radio signals


sound design – the animal calls, breathing sounds on reaching the surface, bubble sounds were excellent.

also links to lens 1 – emotion.

most vr games do not have such a thoughtful story, this many creatures, and such a beautiful world and comprehensive sound design that this really blows the current competition out of the water in terms of content and hours of engaging gameplay.


like most things, the vr adaptation of subnautica wins in some areas and loses in others.

i dont think the devs will be improving the vr version, given its old release date. but this analysis has been very useful for my group’s underwater vr game, and i hope you have gotten something out of reading it.



Factorio is a sandbox, factory-building, resource management game where your goal is to construct a rocket to get off the planet you are stranded on. To do so, the factory must grow. You start off with nothing but a few tools and you must collect resources, construct buildings, research new technologies and automate such processes.

Factorio can be found here:

Oh no! Anyway…

The Elemental Tetrad


You play as an engineer that has crashed onto an alien planet. You will have to make use of the abundance of resources on the new planet to develop a factory that manufactures, transports materials and researches technology to construct a rocket to get home. However, the indigenous fauna will not take kindly to your exploits. You will have to defend yourself and your factory from their advances.

Biters, spitters and worms protect their nests and will attack your factory when the pollution spreads to their nests.


Factorio is a dieselpunk-esque top down game. The graphics are semi-realistic and the gritty look adds to the industrial feel of the game. The top down view gives the player a good overview of the factory. While the graphics are neither flashy nor pretty, they work well as they do not distract the player from the core gameplay.

The factory must grow


Players are able to navigate the map via the WASD keys. Combat is fairly simple, with <Space> allowing the player to empty their weapon into the hostile entity closest to the cursor. <Tab> allows the player to cycle through their weapons.

<E> opens the character screen, which presents the player with their inventory and a crafting menu. The player will have to collect resources and craft components in order to produce different resources to craft even more machinery.

As they progress, the players will also have to research more advanced technology to aid the factory expansion.

In-depth research trees provide players with more advancements
Players start out with boilers and steam engines, but can research different, more efficient means of electricity generation, such as solar panels and nuclear energy

The player’s factory will generate pollution that will trigger waves of attacks from hostiles from nearby nests. Other than having to rapidly construct various supply chains, the player will also have to protect their factory. Buildings such as turrets and walls can be placed by players to defend their factory. Enemies will also evolve to be more dangerous as the game continues. The evolution factor (which affects the probability in which enemies evolve) will increase as the time passes, as pollution increases and as more nests are destroyed by the player. Players can check via the map where pollution has spread.

This section of the factory is at risk of being attacked by 2 enemy bases (bright red spots)


Factorio was developed using a proprietary engine written by the developers, in C++. There is also mod support, where users can make use of the Factorio API to create mods using the Lua programming language, providing even more gameplay content to an already content-rich game. The game is rather optimized and is able to run at a stable 60 frames per second (fps) despite large numbers of entities.

Other lenses

The Lens of Problem Solving

Just like in programming, players are going to have to do a lot of debugging. Why is production of green science packs so slow? Why has production of engines ceased completely? How can production of ammunition be optimised?

With the increasing need of automated production of newer resources, players will constantly have to figure out how to get a production line set up for said resources.

Whether or not a supply chain can be optimised is also up to the player to figure out. In Factorio, the speed at which the machinery operate and other metrics are provided. Players can use such information to further optimse their supply chains, for example, if the machinery is constantly waiting for iron gears, the bottleneck can be solved by placing more assembly machines to craft more iron gears.

The Lens of Simplicity / Complexity

Certain items or buildings in Factorio require other items to craft. Some can be crafted by hand, and some can only be crafted by Assembling Machines. Factorio is a complex game. While it can be simple (and possible!) to just run around your base, ferrying materials from building to assembly machines, or manually crafting them, it is more often than not very time consuming and too much of a hassle to keep up with. Instead, players can automate the crafting of such items. Transport belts and trains help move resources from one place to another. Inserters feed resources into or remove crafted items from machinery. Machinery will also require electricity or fuel to work. There is a lot for the player to consider with regards to how the production line can be placed.

What in the spaghetti belts?

The Lens of Visible Progress

One obvious way the player is able to check their progress is by bringing up the technology screen by pressing <T>. It shows the list of technologies that can be researched in the game, indicating which has been researched, which can be researched and which is still unavailable. As the player progresses, they will be able to see more and more researched technologies. Another obvious way the player can view their progress is via the size of their factory. As they continue playing, the once barren lands will slowly fill with increasingly efficient and powerful machinery.

The older factory on the left is significantly denser and more complex than the newer factory on the right

The Lens of Atmosphere

Graphics and sound effects play a very big part in the atmosphere on the game. As mentioned earlier, the gritty look of the game play into the industiral feel of it. As the player navigates through their factory, they will be able to hear the factory working. The inserters can be heard whirring to life, the assembling machines are chugging away, the radars are beeping, the science labs are sciencing, and the boilers and steam engines are… actually really noisy. As you zoom in on your character running, you hear the footsteps getting louder and louder. In the distance, some turret shots can be heard as another wave of hostile biters are wiped out for daring to approach your factory.


There is no time for a conclusion. The factory must grow.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Poster for MH Rise Sunbreak


The Monster Hunter Series are Adventure RPGs (Role Playing Games) from the Japanese company CAPCOM. For this analysis I will write on the latest installment of the series, Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak, which I will hereby refer to simply as ‘Sunbreak’. The game follows the player, a world-renown hunter of high regard, as he tries to uncover the mysteries behind the strange harrowing phenomenon afflicting monsters across the world.



A gameplay video featuring the game’s flagship monster, Malzeno.

Lens #7: Elemental Tetrad


  • Quest System
    • Players go on quests where they usually have a target monster to slay or items to gather and deliver within a time limit.
    • Each quest can be seen as a single ‘level’ in the game, where players have to complete before they can embark on another quest.
  • Combat
    • Players can choose between 14 different weapon types, with 11 being melee weapons and 3 being projectile weapons.
    • The different weapons all have different movesets and combo attacks, and different strategies as well.
    • Monsters will move between areas in the map throughout the duration of the quest, and the players will have to travel to the different areas to continue the hunt.
    • Monsters have their own movesets and special attacks which players can learn and master dodging or blocking them.
  • Rewards System
    • After completing quests, players will receive in-game money, known as Zenny, as well as other consumable items or items used to forge new equipment.
    • Monster slaying quests will allow the player to ‘carve’ materials off the fallen monster as well as receive monetary and more monster material rewards.
    • Players will receive more monster material rewards if they manage to break certain monster parts during the hunt.
  • Equipment Forging and Upgrading
    • Players can forge new equipment or upgrade existing equipment using the monster materials they have received after completing quests.
    • Each monster has their own separate armor and weapon design, as well as different perks which will enhance the player’s abilities.
    • As monsters get progressively more challenging to defeat, players are advised to forge new equipment or upgrade existing equipment to level the playing field.
  • Multiplayer
    • While the player can choose to finish the whole game on his own, the series offers online multiplayer. Players can go on quests together, up to a party of 4.
    • Monster health will scale accordingly to the number of hunters on the quests, to be fair to the single players.
    • Players can gift consumables to other players in game, so they can help each other out if they are low on health or stamina.
    • Certain consumables and equipment are able to provide buffs for teammates, to enhance the team’s abilities.


The player plays as a legendary monster slayer who has helped many a village (and of course, the whole world) with their monster problems. It is set in a fantasy world where the inhabitants are not as technologically advanced as us, as they are still using technology such as ballista cannons and spearguns instead of modern warfare technology. The series’ main storylines revolve around an unknown large boss monster or phenomenon, that riles up smaller monsters which endanger the village dwellers. The player’s job is to hunt the smaller monsters and slowly uncover information about the final boss monster causing all this havoc, and eventually reach and defeat the final boss. After defeating the final boss, the players complete the story but are able to replay quests and gather more materials for more powerful gear.


Sunbreak and the other Monster Hunter games are set in a technologically less advanced world, which may invoke a sense of calling back to the past. Speaking to the villagers will also uncover that the world lore is rich and well-thought, and they sometimes reference older games as well, which gives loyal players of the franchise a sense of continuity. They also showcase many beautiful locales where the player can hunt monsters in, for example, the Lava Caverns in the above gameplay video. There are also many different monster designs in the game, each with their own special movesets. As mentioned earlier, each monster has their own separate armor and weapon design, as well as different enhancements for the player. Players are able to interact with many different entities in the world, such as gathering consumables from gathering points, activating natural traps or aids to weaken the monster or buff the players. Certain events in the game will trigger the Switch controllers to vibrate as well, giving the player a small sense of immersion into the game.

Hunting a Goss Harag in the Frost Islands. The players all have different equipment.
Hunting a Somnacanth in the Flooded Forest. Similarly, the players all have different equipment.


Sunbreak was made using CAPCOM’s very own RE Engine, or Reach for the Moon Engine. It was created in 2014, originally for the purposes of developing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, as the team said that a “highly generic engine developed by another company would not be appropriate” for a game like Resident Evil 7. RE Engine includes tools to make animation faster, such as modular rigging, motion matching, procedural animation and motion retargeting, and also allows for more realistic debris. This is helpful in Sunbreak since monster as well as player attacks are quite fast and require lots of detailed animation, and the fast engine will allow for a more seamless player experience.

Lens #20: Pleasure

The game gives the player pleasure in a few areas.

  • Defeating large monsters: the player gets to repeatedly defeat large powerful monsters, which gives the player a sense of power and satisfaction that they are able to accomplish such a feat.
  • Amassing loot: the player accumulates more and more equipment as well as materials, and it gives the player the pleasure of owning more advanced equipment as the game progresses.
  • Helping those in need: by completing quests, players are helping the relevant people requesting assistance with those monsters, and eventually when the player defeats the final boss and stops the phenomenon, they are pleased that they have ‘saved the world’.

Lens #21: Flow

The game has a relatively clear sense of flow, with the overarching story as the main goal, to defeat the final boss. However, as there is sometimes more than one way to progress through the story. There are certain key quests one has to complete before getting an urgent quest which unlocks more tiers of quests, eventually leading to the final boss. Here, players are at the danger of sidetracking to other non-key quests, which will delay them from completing the urgent quests, and so on. However, these other quests may also be seen as a chance for players to amass more specific gear from monsters that are perhaps not available to hunt in the key quests, before they go back to the key quests and urgent quests. Therefore, these ‘distractions’ can be tied into the game goals which is to defeat higher level monsters, and getting better equipment will surely make it easier for the player.

Lens #23: Motivation

The game motivates players to progress through the tiers of quests by making each monster somewhat harder than the last, giving the players more challenge when they fight these monsters. Players are also motivated to get better gear when they realize that their current loadout is not effective enough against the monsters which they are fighting, and it may be referred to as a ‘pain avoiding’ motivation. Moreover, as the storyline slowly uncovers more and more of itself as the player progresses, the players are motivated to discover the mystery behind the phenomenon and go through the quests faster. However, the motivation to get better gear may be in conflict with the motivation to progress through the story, as players would have to focus on a single monster repeatedly before they can forge armor and weapons using the monster materials.

Lens #28: The State Machine

For this lens, I will be discussing it in terms of during each hunt. During the quests, monsters have different ‘states’ throughout the hunt. Firstly, they are in a dormant state, moving around the map peacefully before noticing the hunter. Once the fight starts, after taking a certain amount of damage, the monster will become enraged, which is the first obvious state change during the fight. The monster hits harder, moves faster, and has a few more special moves. The monster’s appearance also changes over time, if the player deals enough damage to certain body parts. These body parts will appear broken or mutilated, and for most monsters, their tails are able to be cut off by the player, introducing even more ‘states’ of the monsters. Some monsters primarily use their tails for attacks or other body parts such as legs or arms for balance, so it is very interesting to see them lose their balance as those body parts are broken. Eventually, when the monster is weakened, its state will change again to a limping state, where they will try and escape to another area of the map to recuperate their health.

Lens #44: Cooperation

Since multiplayer is available for Sunbreak, there are elements of cooperation in the game, and players are able to enjoy the game more with other friends. Players can devise strategies before going on hunts, to improve the process and make the hunt more dynamic as well. However, one major drawback is that the Monster Hunter games do not have live chat, so players are constrained to emotes and (editable) instant chat messages to relay information to each other. Another drawback of multiplayer is that there are more ways that the hunt may go wrong, as there is now more space for human error, up to 4x, since parties have a maximum size of 4.


In conclusion, Sunbreak is an overall great game, in terms of its interesting mechanics, lovely aesthetics and rich lore. Although the base mechanics may be somewhat repetitive, the progression of more challenging monsters with different movesets and new locales to explore continuously give the players fresh experiences. As a loyal fan of the franchise who has played practically every installment of the series, I may be biased when I say this, but I highly recommend this game!

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal is a game developed by P-Studio and published by Atlus. This post will analyse it through Schell’s Elemental Tetrad and a few Game Design Lenses.

Lens of Essential Experience

Persona 5 Royal is a single-player Role-Playing Game which integrates aspects of both a 3d dungeon crawler with turned-based combat and a social simulator/visual novel, with players alternating between the two as the game and story progresses.

Gameplay is divided into in-game days as the story progresses with a calendar system over one school year, and players make decisions on how to spend their time each day, be it to progress their social relations or dungeon exploration.

Elemental Tetrad


Players take the role of a Japanese high school student, who along with other peers he meets along the game’s campaign, has been wronged by individuals in positions of power.

With the discovery of a psychic world known as the Metaverse, the group of teens team up and support one another a double-life – one of ordinary students looking to make it through the academic year, and the other as a band of rebel vigilantes known seeking to reform society by performing heists within the minds of corrupt individuals.


Pause menu: “Don’t Look at ME LIKe THaT”

Persona 5 Royal‘s characters and world are presented with an anime-inspired art style, not uncommon in the RPG genre. Where it stands out, however, is in its UI presentation. The striking colour combination of red, black, and white, the irregularly-sized text, as well as unconventional, non-orthogonal angles and shapes that make up every aspect of the user interface, including the dialogue boxes, combat and pause menus, all evoke a punk-like aesthetic, complementing and accentuating the story themes of teen rebellion.


Just as the main characters live 2 different lives in the story, the game’s mechanics are divided into 2 distinct, yet interconnected portions.

Persona 5 Royal serves as wish-fulfilment for the many who wish they could spend time with a therapist for free and receive immediate growth in their mental fortitude

In one half, players manage their avatar’s daily student life and social relations with others by spending time with them and choosing between dialogue options in their conversations, with some rewarding the player with more progress points, similar to visual novels.

Pictured: the squad fights a necklace

In the other half, players explore 3d dungeon environments and battle enemies in turn-based combat, in which players attack with weapons such as knives and guns, as well as the titular Personas, beings that characters summon to perform magical attacks.

The two halves are linked in the fact that progress in one aspect brings benefits for the other. For instance, building a relationship with a character in the social sim allows for greater combat strength in the dungeon crawler, and defeating certain enemies in the dungeon crawler could unlock progression in the social sim.


Due to the game’s stylised anime art style, it is less resource intensive than more photorealistic-looking games, and is able to run smoothly on a variety of systems, including Nintendo Switch.

Lens of Problem Solving

While game progression occurs regardless of most of the player’s choices in the social sim aspect of the game, there is a clear win-lose condition when it comes to the turn-based combat element of the game, and it is hence one of the key problems placed before players to solve.

During combat, players make decisions on attacking, using healing or assistive items, as well as which attack or item to use. Enemies have unique affinities to different attack types. For instance, if an enemy is vulnerable to fire-based attacks, it would take more damage from them and be left disabled, giving the player another turn to attack.

This adorable snowman-like creature is weak to fire and immune to ice attacks

Beyond this basic level of weaknesses and strengths, status effects such as buffs and ailments, as well as interactions involving these effects, add an additional layer of complexity and choice to the player.

The key problem players have to solve, then, would be figuring out which types combination of attacks would be most effective against different enemies.

While it may seem obvious to a non-player that any creature would be weak to gunshots and nuclear blasts, there’s actually no guarantee or way to know beforehand in this game.

In my experience, however, the game offers no hints as to discerning the affinities and weaknesses of when encountering new enemy types, and the problem-solving would always involve nothing more than trial-and-error as I blindly threw out attacks of different types, essentially brute forcing until I discovered what attack type an enemy is weak to. This aspect of the problem-solving would hence feel rather stale after I progressed through a few hours of the game.

Lens of Meaningful Choices

Sure, you could spend time with the people you love and help them with their problems, but you could also just ignore them and spend the day fishing. It’s a real dilemma.

While the main plot of the game is linear and fixed, players have a level of decision-making that changes certain aspects of the game, namely choosing what to do with the time spent during Social Sim portion.

During any particular day, a player may choose between:

  • Activities that increase stats for social sim half (charm, guts, knowledge, kindness, proficiency), that unlocks more social interactions
  • Activities that increase perks in the dungeon crawling/combat half (darts throwing, hp increase)
  • Activities to build relationships with other characters, which may also provide the aforementioned benefits at times
  • Entering the dungeon-crawling aspect of the game to complete side quests, gain levels or progress the main story

As the entire game takes place during and ends after a fixed number of in-game days, each decision made regarding time spent comes as an opportunity cost of other potential activities done.

The end result of this opportunity cost and the potential rewards behind each choice is that each of the numerous decisions made over the course of the game’s calendar year feel meaningful and important.

Lens of Character Transformation

As a story-driven title, P5R’s main cast of characters, as well as its secondary cast that the player interacts with each undergo a level of character transformation, rewarding the player with a sense of satisfaction.

This occurs over the course of the main plot, which all players will experience, but also during optional side content known as Confidants as players choose to spend time with various characters during the social simulator part of the game.

Confidants are individual stories the players experience in segments over the course of the game’s social system, in which players interact with and watch characters overcome a personal challenge and grow. Stories can be rather emotionally compelling as the characters involved develop.

That said, sometimes the character transformation that players work for are not as clearly communicated as they could be. For the main playable cast, much of the transformation to their characters occur during the single story arc in which they are introduced, and mostly involve them standing up for themselves as victims abuse by those in power over them. However, since the transformation that occurs during their respective Confidants are optional and parallel to the main plot, developments from them are often not communicated or reflected during story moments.


Overall, in spite of a few shortcomings in maximising its potential under a few lenses, Persona 5 Royal provided me with a unique, enjoyable experience through its characteristic flavour of aesthetics, story, and gameplay integration, leaving it with a memorable identity among many other titles of its genre.