VR puzzle game: I Expect You To Die

What is it about?

I Expect You To Die is a VR escape room-style puzzle game developed by Schell Games. The player plays the role of a secret agent and engages in missions such as escaping death situations and stopping evil plans of world domination. In each mission, the player is thrown into a puzzle box, and is required to use whatever that is available around them as well as their problem-solving skills to clear the mission.

What makes it engaging?

I Expect You To Die simulates a real-life escape room environment, with the player’s point-of-view changes according to the player’s postures, such as bending down and turning around. The usual text comments are also replaced by a humorous voice, which contributes to the immersive environment.

Another detail worth noting is that the player’s hand gets hidden when grabbing any item, which prevents the problem of hand model intersecting with the item during grabbing. While some research has shown that a non-disappearing hand during grabbing improves the immersive experience by increasing the ownership of the player [1], it is hard to notice that the hand disappears during the actual game play, therefore does not hinder with the immersive experience in practice.

Apart from the immersive VR environment, this game also provides players with great freedom in interacting with the items and the environment. Unlike traditional escape room games, this game also encourages creativity by allowing more than one way to complete each mission – just like how problems can be solved in the real world.

What features are well done?

Firstly, time limits are implemented when certain conditions are triggered, for example when a dynamite is being lit. This allows game over to happen frequently – something too costly for a real-life escape room to implement. It is also part of the experience for the player to watch things going wrong in different ways, as there is great freedom in the different actions that players choose to take under pressure situations.

Secondly, this game uses hand-controller buttons to achieve telekinesis, and the player solves all the puzzles in stationary, without having to teleport or move away from the initial position. While it may seem restrictive, it allows the player to focus on the puzzle solving, and also reduces risks of VR sickness from locomotion [2].

Last but not least, this application implemented well-designed onboarding tutorials for the player to try out and practice each gameplay action before embarking on each mission stage. This is an important plus point especially for VR games, where there may be players who are unfamiliar with using the VR hand controllers.

Fig. 1: Screenshot of onboarding tutorial

What can be improved?

In traditional puzzle games played on PC or mobile devices, usable items are usually kept in the inventory and items have indications of whether they can be assembled. In this game, there is no visual hints showing how to use the items or whether they are correctly used, which simulates the difficulty of escaping in a real-life setting. However, I do think that for minor puzzles, such as piecing torn documents together, there can be visual checkpoints to indicate completion.

Next, there can be more continuity in the storyline of the game. The current game connects the mission stages only via an agent room for mission release. There can be better character and story development across the stages.

In addition, puzzles involving NPCs can be introduced to provide more possible ways of interaction. In appropriate storylines, this can further heighten the tense or horrific atmosphere the player experiences.

Finally, as a puzzle game, a question to consider is retaining players after all stages are cleared. A potential enhancement is to introduce multiplayer features, for example allowing other player to sabotage during each mission stage.

Fig. 2: Screenshot of I Expect You To Die


In general, I Expect You To Die is an engaging escape room-style puzzle game that is worth trying out, and has the potential of expanding to a significant VR game series.

[1] A. Adkins, L. Lin, A. Normoyle, R. Canales, Y. Ye, and S. Jörg, “Evaluating grasping visualizations and control modes in a VR game,” ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 1–14, 2021.

[2] D. Saredakis, A. Szpak, B. Birckhead, H. A. Keage, A. Rizzo, and T. Loetscher, “Factors associated with virtual reality sickness in head-mounted displays: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 14, 2020.

Frictionless Fashion

A fascinating and up-and-coming area of application for extended reality (XR) is fashion and e-commerce. With the development of AR and VR technology, the way that consumers and designers respectively interact and create fashion pieces has evolved into something more dynamic, fun and creative.

With the technology, consumers can not only interact virtually with the products but with the store space as well, which can be reimagined into a creative world limited only by the tools used to make it. It allows brands to create immersive experiences to showcase and advertise their products in a virtual space, allowing it to be accessible to the masses because now you do not need to be present physically in order to enjoy it. In high-end fashion design, the digital space also broadens the potential for creativity from designers because they need not be limited to physical and real materials, allowing them to express themselves more freely. Overall, I believe it makes for a really cool and artistic marketing strategy!

Furthermore, companies can create something that Rock Paper Reality has called a “frictionless shopping experience” [1], which allows for virtual try-ons and try-outs of different products that range from clothing, accessories, and even makeup, allowing users to visualize the on themselves, before buying it. This has helped to improve buyer confidence, which then encourages additional purchases, and also decreases product return. [2]

While this is yet to be a common sight among the retailers for the masses, some of the bigger or more luxurious brands have explored the capabilities of XR in various initiatives.

Specific examples include:

  • Vogue Business Metaverse Atelier (created by Journee and powered by Epic Games) [3]
    • A walk-through virtual experience showcasing digital fashion pieces in the metaverse, along with designer-narrated exhibitions and hologram interviews.
    • This application offered viewers a close-up view of the intricacies and versatility of digital designs, as well as showcase for the first time the first recorded fashion NFT that was put up for sale. The works displayed around a beautiful immersive environment created a surreal and unique experience that very much felt like walking through an art exhibition and learning about the different designs and their inspirations.
Vogue Business Metaverse Atelier Walkthrough (Video is Unlisted so it may not show up on this post, but you can check it out through the link above)
  • DressX AR try-ons
    • Website: https://dressx.com/
    • Try out the app here: https://dressx.app.link/rIHv48pwbtb
    • This mobile app boasts collections of designs from a long list of fashion designers and brands, some of which are free to try on through AR filters, modelled like what that many of us may be familiar with on Instagram and Snapchat. These digital clothing pieces are for sale and can be installed into your very own Metacloset, which can become a fairly interesting avenue for self-expression in the Metaverse.

Application Specific Analysis: DressX

Why do I like this?

I like this application because they showcase really creative pieces, and there’s just something novel about it which makes it exciting. I also like the AR body mapping that they have done that allows the viewer to see the clothing pieces in a full 360-degree view. Some of the more flowy fabrics also delicately dance whenever you sway from side to side, so that kind of interaction and an almost “real” feel is really fascinating to witness.

Why is it engaging?

Because it makes use of AR, by overlaying the product on a live feed from your camera, you are then able to see the product on yourself, not just have it modelled on a blank mannequin model. And as mentioned before, little effects or details like the garment flowing along with your movement, or shimmering in the light, and allowing for a 360-degree view, really add to the extended reality experience of a user because of the live interactivity.

Because these are digital pieces, you can do rapid-fire try-ons of any number of pieces (given what is available on the application at least), which helps a user to stay engaged for much longer, similar to how hooked one can get while scrolling on social media. This experience is very unlike physically trying on clothes, which can be troublesome and take a lot of time.

What features can be improved?

  • Adding virtual fitting. Many of the pieces are made for the stereotypical skinny/slim fit body shapes and sizes, and unfortunately, the application typically does not map the clothes as accurately when it comes to a wider range of body types. It would be much better and inclusive to be able to add dynamic sizing, with the use of AI and smarter models, and also take advantage of 3D scanning technology, like using the LiDAR scanner and TrueDepth technology on the iPhone 12 Pro [4]. Understandably not all devices are ready for that yet, but it could be something to look forward to when virtual try-ons become more common. [4]
  • At the moment the application only presents a limited and niche collection of (digital) clothes, mostly because it serves to provide a Metaverse fashion experience. So instead of an improvement, this is more of an extension, to extend this concept to more normal clothes and retailers like the ones we frequent for our everyday looks (ahem Uniqlo?), to enhance our shopping experience and allow us as consumers to try before we buy.


As someone who likes to shop and constantly struggles to gauge my size when buying online, I can definitely appreciate if an application like this is available on the various sites I may frequent because it would allow me to have a “feel” of the product long before I plan to purchase it and even in the comfort of my own home.

The fashion and shopping world has a lot of potential to benefit from XR, and I am excited to see where the technology will bring us (or rather, where we bring the technology, given that a batch of us would most likely go on to create and innovate with XR).


[1] Rock Paper Reality, & Patrick. (2023, January 11). Saks Fifth Avenue. Rock Paper Reality. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://rockpaperreality.com/our-work/saks-fifth-avenue/

[2] Using AR technology to lower your ecommerce return rate. Loop Returns. (2022, April 13). Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.loopreturns.com/blog/using-ar-technology-to-lower-your-ecommerce-return-rate/#:~:text=The%20Virtual%20Try%2DOn%20service,reducing%20the%20likelihood%20of%20returns.

[3] Vogue Business Metaverse Atelier. (2022). YouTube. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKI4zVa0JFk&t=5s.

[4] Mikalai, Z., Andrey, D., Hawas, H. S., Tеtiana, Н., & Oleksandr, S. (2022, January 24). Human body measurement with the iPhone 12 pro lidar scanner. AIP Publishing. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/5.0078310 or

http://rep.vstu.by/bitstream/handle/123456789/15312/5.0078310.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y for full text

VR for training budding crime scene specialists

What is it?

Virtual Reality (VR) is currently used as a tool to train upcoming crime scene specialists in both the professional working world and even in forensic science modules that are taught in NUS. I like this application of VR as I have an interest in True Crime/CSI and I believe the application of crime scene reconstruction in a VR World has a huge capability in aiding investigators in solving criminal cases. Reconstructing and saving a crime scene in a 3D virtual space may also help investigators re-visit a scene and potentially solving cold cases.

Having an advanced crime scene construction saved in a virtual space would provide more intuition for investigators or students to solve crimes rather than the traditional photographs of textual evidence of a crime scene.

Why they are engaging

VR has made learning more hands-on and intuitive. Rather than relying past case studies of photographs and textual evidence of the crime scene, students are fully immersed in a virtual environment where they get a fuller picture of a crime scene. There, they are better able to spot subtle clues more clearly, such as handprints or gunpowder soot for example.

Before VR entered the picture, setting up a mock crime scene was a very laborious process and a physical set had to be packed with clues and then later unpacked once students finished with their investigations. With VR, a click of a mouse enables students to start their training with different configurations and different crime scenes without much overhead.

Features that are done well

During training, HUD’s that may block the student’s view are limited are rarely used, allowing them to fully immerse into the setting of a crime scene investigation.

The VR system also allows fellow students to see the headset wearer’s field of vision. Fellow students can direct the headset wearer to pick out details of clues they may have missed. When students interact with each other through the investigation, they can help sharpen one another’s analytical skill and correct each other’s methods on the spot.

The student’s actions that are taken during the virtual investigation are also logged and can later be easily reviewed by themselves or an instructor. They can then reflect on what went wrong or what went right during their mock investigation.

What can be improved

Of course, VR in this application still has its limitations. The controllers used in VR are essentially joysticks and cannot fully simulate the flexibilities of a human hand, which is important when learning proper techniques to handle evidence or risk damaging them. Perhaps when VR applications become more advanced and widely used, sensors in each fingers can be used instead of a controller to mimic the controllers of the human hand.

The graphics in the VR world may also not be entirely convincing enough to set an atmosphere of a heavy crime scene in order to completely immerse a student.

However, VR is ultimately still a beneficial tool in helping students learn better, be better engaged and also have more fun while learning.



Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR) in Modern Warfare

Video 1, source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l29C1UuL7bo

AR (augmented reality) is the integration of text, graphics, audio, and other virtual enhancements with real-world objects in real-time. In the military, the use of AR has evolved significantly, proving itself to be a vital upgrade where better information can be that decisive factor in determining matters of life and death. One such use is the utilisation of AR in increasing the quality and precision of night vision by feeding the surrounding terrain into the goggles and enhancing images with silhouettes to provide better target location, distance, and depth (see Video 1). As another interesting application of AR, it might be used as an immersive 3-dimensional pre-mission sandbox to learn the terrain before heading out on a mission (see Video 2).

Video 2, source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfCVkmAmTqA


History is replete with examples of wars won with superior technology and access to information (Ahir et. al., 2020). In modern warfare, AR applications are a game-changer and a competitive advantage. The use of enhanced night-vision goggles for covert intrusions into enemy territory coupled with pre-mission terrain practice increases spatial orientation and situational awareness, thereby increasing mission success. Through these capabilities, soldiers are able to train for real-world situations without risk of injury. Battle strategies are evaluated, modified, tested and tested again in anticipation of potential issues to arrive at the best possible outcome given operational constraints. I appreciate that such AR technology has the potential to alter the course of war.

Why is it engaging?

By overlaying digital content on top of the physical world, AR technology creates a wholly immersive and lifelike experience for the user. Using the holographic tactical sandbox as an example, it can give tacticians instant information, deeper understanding of the battlefield, such as the height of the terrain, and even the ability to stage mock battles to practice combat maneuvers. This would not have been possible a decade ago, when war simulations were based on human judgment using rudimentary tools such as 2D physical maps, figurines and props. As a result, it is interesting since it expands the military’s options for what is achievable in technical warfare.

The current state of TAR and what can be improved

In determining the optimum method to use the AR, the designers of the AR-assisted night vision goggles did a thorough job of surveying their target audience and taking into account what modern soldiers are used to. For instance, the modern soldier is used to playing videogames. Thus, the designers incorporated game like designs into their visual display such as Sobel-like white lines that mimic gave avatars in videogames.

Source: Screenshot taken from https://youtu.be/l29C1UuL7bo?t=83

However, I believe there is room for improvements with the goggles’ visual HUD. The color and position of the clock display and compass are hard to view from the user’s perspective, as seen in the screenshot above. A potential upgrade could be to give users the option to alter the display’s positioning, on/off status, and color scheme or perhaps map elements to the hand similar to VR videogames.

For the tactical sandbox, its architecture allows for real-time communication between several parties without their physical presence being necessary. This feature considered real-world situations where not every level of military command would be present at the same location. Plans can be accepted immediately thanks to the sandbox’s ability to facilitate remote participation and expedite the chain of command.

Source: https://youtu.be/TfCVkmAmTqA?t=96

However, one feature that may need improvement is the UI elements that represent the sandbox’s routes and enemy positions. It was difficult to distinguish the areas with intense firing from the areas with dense population. During war simulations, the ability to toggle it off or change how the routes look may be a welcomed option.


In conclusion, utilizing AR technology provides many advantages over the present military deployment approach. It gives soldiers better information and new strategies for gaining the upper hand tactically. While the military may not currently use much AR technology in actual missions, it will undoubtedly advance and eventually become a standard requirement in this age of technological warfare.


Ahir, K., Govani, K., Gajera, R., & Shah, M. (2020). Application on virtual reality for enhanced education learning, military training and sports. Augmented Human Research5(1), 1-9.

Augmented reality can revolutionize aircraft maintenance

Assembling or performing maintenance on an aircraft are difficult tasks that require a lot of precision and focus in order to ensure that the aircraft functions correctly. Technicians and engineers make use of many different diagrams, indicating elements such as electrical wiring, cable management, machinery and such. But even after undergoing rigorous learning and training, their work can be very time-consuming.

Boeing and augmented reality

Therefore Boeing started to develop a new project : using augmented reality for maintenance and inspection of aircrafts. Equipped with AR goggles, one can inspect the aircraft in order to work on its assembly or repairs and modifications.

AR goggles worn by electricians. Source : Boeing

Checking the electrical wiring can be done in real-time, without having to move or touch anything. The goggles display 3D diagrams and instructions, and allow a technician to interact instead of relying on a paper diagram. This use of AR here drastically improves both the quality and efficiency of the work, in a very technical domain where mistakes cannot be allowed. 

Displaying wires in AR. Source : Boeing

My personal take

What really impresses me is the very technical application of AR on a very difficult domain to master. Hopefully it can help engineers and technicians to achieve their work faster, with more accuracy and confidence. Another point that I like is the see-through vision, just like x-ray vision where you can see what kind of cables or piece of machinery might be hidden and not directly visible.

Possible improvements

One of the possible improvements I can think of is installing multiple sensors and detectors on all the different pieces of equipment in the aircraft. This way you can see the in real-time status and check the durability or look for failures for example. Another possible option could be having a more user friendly interface and instructions, so it can be used for leisure or educational purposes such as in museums.


Boeing Tests Augmented Reality in the Factory, Boeing, https://www.boeing.com/features/2018/01/augmented-reality-01-18.page

Boeing Q&A: The future of aircraft maintenance powered by AR and machine learning, Unity, https://resources.unity.com/ai-ml-content/boeing-video

VR in Medical Training

Source: OSSOVR

Utilising VR for medical training is one area that caught my attention. Currently medical school is one of the costliest trainings costing more than SGD833,000 in the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Compared to an engineering degree which cost SDG206,000.

What is Osso VR?

Osso VR is a start-up founded in 2016 that primarily develops a VR training platform for surgical process training in the medical field. The company’s goal is to provide surgical training to medical staff and students reducing the constraints and limitations such as cost, location, and time.

Osso VR utilises both the virtual reality element to construct a surgical room with the goal of providing an accurate surgical environment complete with tools and patients for medical personal to go test their surgical processes and skills without risking a real person’s life and without the need for cost of equipment and time to set up a surgical room. The company’s solution also integrated a metaverse aspect allowing other medical personnel to join the room and observe or assist the head surgeon allowing practice for the full surgical team and allowing onlookers to observe the process.

Why is it engaging?

Osso VR is engaging as not only does it simulate a medical environment to immerse the user into the setting, but it can be complete with medical tools found in a fully prepared surgical room which the user can interact with and a virtual patient the user can conduct surgery on with the provided medical tools. The solution also enables other members to join in the virtual environment where the users can interact with one another to involve the users in a group level surgical process.

The metaverse feature which allows different users to join the session allows for a new form of remote engagement by medical experts to guide students or trainees which further enhances the training experience through interpersonal engagement.

What features are well done?

The surgical tools introduce in the software are accurate to that of the surgical ward with great animations and illustrations of their operating process giving detail of the process that allows someone as unfamiliar to the surgical process such as myself to understand the process.

What features can be improved and how?

One main disadvantage of the solution is utilizing oculus hand controllers to tract hand movement and using the device to pick up and operate the various surgical tools which is inaccurate as the operating process of the tool is different in terms of ergonomics and interaction as compared to pressing buttons on the oculus controller.

A potential solution could be to integrate hand-tracking tools to track the hand gestures and hand movement to be recreated in the virtual environment which would familiarize the user on interacting with the surgical tools.

My Conclusion

Overall, the software is extremely creative providing outstanding interaction and engagement which allows the user to experience a close to real-world experience at a lower cost, less time required to set up, and accessibility as the user can access the training room from anywhere in the world with a good network. Additionally, this solution allows users to have certain engaging features such as assessments to allow evaluations without the need for a human evaluator and the process is easily repeatable even by one user himself. This tool will prove important to advancing the training in the medical industry and make the training more widely available and accessible.

Analysis on Virtual Reality Experience, The Room VR: A Dark Matter

Official trailer of The Room VR: A Dark Matter

What is it?

The Room VR: A Dark Matter is a room escape game released in March 2020 by the Fireproof Studios. Being the fifth series to the renowned mobile room escape games, the company decided to develop their game in VR this time to offer a more fascinating and different experience to their fans.

In the game, the player is allocated the role of a detective investigating on a case of a missing Egyptologist. Through interacting with nearby objects and solving hands-on puzzles within a realistic environment, the player will be absorbed into the game as the truth unfolds before their eyes.

Why is it engaging?

Room escape has traditionally been a popular genre existing in mobile, PC, and even offline settings to cater to the needs of puzzle and investigation fanatics around the world. Among the platforms offering such games, the most immersive experience would be through a physical room escape game. However, the offline experience is rather expensive, and often lacking in quality as there are limitations to how an investigative environment could be recreated in the enclosed area. For mobile and PC settings, the graphical immersion was there but the absence of on-hands activities was rather disappointing.

The emergence of VR versions of room escape games was thus revolutionary, as it solved all aforementioned problems. Realism was brought through a 360 degrees graphic environment which provided the appropriate atmosphere to the players without having movement limitations in a confined area, and players were able to interact with the necessary items with their hands, instead of merely clicking onto some item with the tip of their fingers and expecting it to magically go full screen.

Even among those VR room escape games out in the market, The Room VR: A Dark Matter was an especially engaging game due to its excellent graphics that blends in well with the creepy surroundings, and smooth interactivity with in-game objects. The field of VR room escape has advanced immensely during the past few years, and The Room VR: A Dark Matter may not be the very best VR room escape game out there now, but it still remains as one of the top and a good introduction to the world of VR room escape in my opinion.

What features are well done?

  • VR-exclusive interactivity

The interactive element in The Room VR: A Dark Matter is remarkable, and the immersion experience is right on the spot. Players can hold onto puzzle items and inspect them, looking at the item from different perspectives or placing them into or onto applicable locations. One of the exciting cases of interactivity was when lifelike hand movements were required for game progress, such as holding a key, pressing it onto the keyhole, turning the key, grabbing the doorknob, and pushing it down to open the door. The 1st person viewpoint was also fully utilized in the game. Some puzzles allowed the player to have different viewpoints of the same locations, which would have not felt the same if the puzzle was carried out in over a flat screen. Despite the fact that VR is generally already room-escape friendly due to the nature of it in which view is not restricted and all 360 degrees can be looked around for investigation, the interactive element in this game did not stop there but attempted to provide players with VR-exclusive experience especially with the hand consoles and 1st person viewpoints.

  • Graphics and sound

Another element that elevated the VR experience of The Room VR: A Dark Matter was the quality of the graphical backgrounds and the appropriate usage of sound effects. Faithful to the storyline settings of 1908, the in-game objects feel antique, and the seemingly old texture further enhances this effect. As the player progresses further in the game, the scale and the quality of the environments and surrounding objects only gets better, and the player is pulled deeply into the game. The remarkable graphics were a result of intensive research by the developers, who referred to real-life buildings, objects, and historical records to replicate them as realistically as possible, which was reflected in the delicate modelling. The 3-D sound effects and background music certainly added on to the immersion aspect of the game by creating an eerie atmosphere throughout and making suitable sound effects when objects were moved.  

  • Minimal unnecessary real-life movements

One problem regarding VR games is that sometimes physical movement is obligatory. This may not be an issue for short games like those available in VR cafes, but as the gametime increases, extensive movements exhaust the players and limit their playtime, and the weight of the headset does not help either. The Room VR: A Dark Matter resolved this issue by allowing the players to select whether they would like to progress in sitting mode, which literally means that the player can have the full game experience comfortably on a chair. In addition, unnecessary movements such as bending down were not required and movements were limited to hand controllers, allowing the players to enjoy the game in space-restricted conditions as well.

  • User-friendliness

User-friendly settings were also observed in the game. There were no fixed HUDs in the game that blocked the players’ view, allowing them to immerse into the beautifully structured graphics in the game. UI only popped up when necessary, such as when items needed to be retrieved from the inventory or text information needed to be shown. The most appreciated component of the game was the easily approachable hint function to help players who needed guidance. The hints were very obvious and impossible to miss out on, allowing for a smooth continuation of the game. 

A user-friendly element out of gameplay was that the game provided multilingual services for non-English speakers, of surprisingly decent quality that did not hinder the storyline or puzzles. This was something to commend them for as game translations are often done haphazardly in non-English languages, leading to awkward game experiences.   

What features can be improved and how?

Although the game is one of the best VR games that is able to provide a captivating experience to the players, I would like to point out some features that could be improved on.

  • Limited content

The Room VR: A Dark Matter is a puzzle-based room escape game with a storyline. Due to the nature of the genre, there is no replay value of this game for most players. Furthermore, gameplay usually takes around three to six hours only, making some players feel that the game lacks in content. Another area of disappointment was that contrary to the previous series where multiple endings were shown depending on the user’s gameplay, there was only a single ending to this game. In my opinion, more endings or DLCs for additional storylines could be provided by the developers such that the game will not be a one-time experience, but something to look back on more frequently.

  • Limited non-puzzle item interactivity

A major forte of VR games is the possibility of being able to interact with surrounding elements, creating a sense of realism and immersivity into the game when combined with the 360 degrees environment. The Room VR: A Dark Matter has succeeded in providing such experience regarding items needed for solving the puzzles, but for objects that were not required in the main playthrough of the game, that was not the case. Comparatively unimportant objects were stripped of any interaction, given the sole role of being graphic backgrounds. This sometimes pulled the player out of absorption upon realising that the world was still quite limited, and their surroundings were mere graphics, especially when they were stuck. A suggestion to this issue is to add interactable elements to prop items around the user, which could be small interactions such as holding those items just to take a closer look or giving short text descriptions. Being able to interact with items regardless of their importance would also increase the difficulty of the game, which would eventually lead to a longer playtime, becoming another solution to the aforementioned issue – short playtime. 

  • Teleportation

The developers have decided that movements in-game would be carried out through teleportation, which may be appealing to some users in the sense that walking time and real-life movement space is saved, and there is lesser possibility of motion sickness. There are some portions in the game in which movement can only be explained by teleportation, so there is no doubt to why the developers decided to adopt this method in the game. However, it is indisputable that teleportation for a walkable distance is an unrealistic element that may cause disruptions to a user’s VR experience. During movements between open locations, a short animation of walking towards the area of interest, followed by a fadeout scene to create an impression that the player had “walked” to their destination could be provided. For users who would be more concerned about time wasted during transport rather than the quality of the walking animation, there could be an option to turn off walking animations to provide full on-spot teleporting services like how the game is now.


As a fan of room escape games regardless of whether they are on mobile or offline venues, I was highly intrigued by the existence of a VR room escape, and my expectations were met with this game. Although the playtime was short, the movie-like graphical presentations and interactive elements allowed me to be deeply immersed into the storyline. Despite some awkwardness with hand movements, which is inevitable in the world of VR, the console-hand interactivity in the game was fabulous and the experience was amazing. I highly recommend this game as an introductory step to those who have not experienced VR room escape, or even room escape games in general before.


[1] “The Room VR: A Dark Matter” Fireproof Studios. [Online] Available: https://www.fireproofgames.com/games/the-room-vr-a-dark-matter (Last accessed: 16-Jan-2023)

[2] “Fireproof Games” Flickr. [Online] Available: https://www.flickr.com/people/fireproofgames/ (Last accessed: 17-Jan-2023)

Beat Saber: The Next Step for Rhythm Games

Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game released in 2019, and has been a great success, with 96% of more than 60k reviews for the game on Steam being positive. It’s a game that I’m certain many have seen before or at least heard of. 

Regardless of the player’s level of experience with rhythm games, the gameplay is intuitive enough for any new player to grasp quickly, especially since the controls are simply an extension of one’s own arms.

While I have not personally played Beat Saber due to a lack of the required hardware, I have been an avid player of rhythm games for more than a decade, and I feel that I am well equipped to give the game a reasonably well-substantiated writeup from the viewpoint of someone with such experience.

Revolutionising rhythm games

Before the introduction of Beat Saber, rhythm games have been primarily played on mobile devices, PCs, and arcades. Rhythm games tend to stick to a very standard formula: notes fly at you and you click on them at the right timing. They mostly vary in how the standard formula is implemented: namely how the notes fly at you, and how you click them. 

Some of the more innovative implementations include Cytus for phones, osu! for PCs, and many various titles for arcades. However as time progressed, it becomes harder to create innovative variations of the standard rhythm game formula, especially for phones and PCs, due to the limited types of inputs that could be used. Arcade rhythm games on the other hand are able to continue innovating, as they are not restricted by the hardware.

With the advent of VR technology, Beat Saber is able to utilise the new input methods available to PCs and bring something similar to the arcade experience to the home.

With access to input in the third dimension, Beat Saber uses a very natural twist on the classic vertically scrolling system widely seen in many rhythm games. Instead of having the notes scroll vertically down the y-axis, they come towards the player in the z-axis. 

While this is very intuitive, it comes at the cost of players not having a clear visual cue about when the notes should be hit. Most rhythm games do have some sort of judgement line which users can use as an accurate reference of when the note should be hit. 

Having the notes come towards the player also comes at the cost of each note potentially occluding the note directly behind it, which might end up either restricting chart design or making memory an important part of playing some charts. This is especially impactful since the player needs to actually be able to see the arrow on the note to hit the note properly.

Straying from the classic formula

On the topic of players not having a clear visual cue about the accurate timing of each note, it is worth noting that unlike a classic rhythm game where the player gets a higher score for hitting the note at the right time, Beat Saber scores players based on the angle and position of the cut. 

The rhythm aspect still exists. There is a sweet spot that is around 44ms long where your swing will net you more points by virtue of slicing the note at the right timing. However, this sweet spot is rather lenient when compared to other rhythm games, which typically have a timing window around 33ms. 

This is a great change to make the game more focused on mindlessly slashing the notes to the beat, improving the immersion the player would experience, as well as making the game more forgiving for new players. Since the player has to move more to hit the note as well, the larger timing window also accounts for the further distance the player’s hands have to travel to hit the note.

Focusing on the cut also ensures that the player would move as much as the game intended, making the slicing aspect of the game feel more satisfying. This however does come at the cost of requiring players to move more, making them more exhausted than they already are.

Making use of the whole body

Besides just having notes to slice, Beat Saber also has bombs and walls that the player is supposed to dodge with their body. This makes use of the player’s whole body in a way that very few other rhythm games in the market have done at that time, fully immersing the player to move to the song and working out their whole body instead of just their arms.

Before the advent of VR, such body tracking was hard to achieve at home. Some dancing-based rhythm games like Dance Evolution for the arcade or the Just Dance series have done this before, but it is hard to consider these games as pure rhythm games due to the lack of distinct notes to be hit at a certain time. 

Beat Saber does a great job of mixing the full-motion of the dancing games with the core rhythm game mechanic of hitting notes at the right time, bringing the best of both worlds into one single game.

A vibrant community to fill a gap

The core game itself does not actually contain that many songs, with approximately 100 songs as of writing this. For reference, Project Sekai, another popular rhythm game that was released more than a year later, has more than double of that.

Furthermore, the songs in Beat Saber are mostly Western songs, which might alienate the most dedicated fanbase for rhythm games: East Asians. A lot of rhythm games primarily use electronic music composed by some well-established Japanese and Korean composers that specialise in rhythm game music. 

It is puzzling why the developers went in this direction, since most hardcore rhythm game players are very familiar with and love the typical style of eastern electronic music. Perhaps they wished to appeal to the larger western market which might not have as much experience in rhythm games.

The Beat Saber community clearly recognises this as a big problem, as there is a large community with more than 250k members on their discord channel completely focused around modding the game to add their own songs to the game. However this is also a big draw of the game: being able to make your own charts and play your favourite songs. The PC rhythm game osu! also does this, and it is also a big draw of the game.

The future of VR rhythm games

Rhythm games in classic platforms like the phone come in many forms: classic vertically scrolling games like Deemo, having the judgement line move like in Cytus, playing in a circle like Lanota, or having notes come in multiple directions like Dynamix. 

It would be nice for Beat Saber or other VR rhythm game titles to not only experiment with ways that the notes are hit, but also how the notes approach the user. This is the key aspect in keeping the gameplay of rhythm games distinct from each other, and I fully anticipate to see a whole array of innovations in this aspect as VR technology matures.


Beat Saber is a great adaptation of the classic rhythm game formula to fit the VR context. The controls are intuitive, and with a satisfying way to hit each note and a scoring system that rewards the cleanest slices, Beat Saber sits solidly among the top few rhythm games in terms of the fun factor.

It makes good use of the unique characteristics of VR, immersing users in the experience of grooving to the music while slicing to the beat the approaches you in the third dimension. 

It’s a great game that many enjoy playing, and one that I would love to try out someday too.