Games

Eleven Eleven – Review

Eleven Eleven (Rated PEGI-12) is the new VR/AR experience from SYFY, Sky VR, and NBCUniversal. Anyone who owns a VR headset or an Apple phone (more on that later) should buy this. As VR experiences go, this is one of the most immersive on offer.

Eleven Eleven is a set of stories set on the doomed planet of Kairos Linea, which is about to be obliterated by nukes dropped from orbit by its corporate overlords, who have got quite peeved that people are shooting back at them with the weapons they manufactured rather than shooting each other like good little corporate slaves. Seems a little extreme, but that’s capitalism for you. Each story plays out in real time, taking eleven minutes and eleven seconds to complete, and players are free to either follow one story to completion, flip between stories, go exploring around the place all by themselves and ignore the story entirely, or even pull back to an overview of the world called “Goddess Mode” which allows an overview of all the events at once.

Goddess Mode is definitely the ace in the hole here. There is something amazing about hovering in the air over the city, then leaning in to poke your head into a building to watch the story within play out before you in miniature before snapping back to one story in particular, walking around the character as the scene plays out.

Oh yes, it should be noted that this falls squarely into the category of “Walking Simulator” games. There is no actual interaction here, the player is just a bystander, though with that said there are objects to examine, posters and graffiti to look at (the alien language used in game has a translation cypher the developers are planning to release in the future to allow the graffiti to be decoded), and with the ability to explore at your leisure there is plenty of content here.

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Regarding the more technical aspects, the game is currently out for pretty much every mainstream VR headset – Rift, Vive, PS VR, etc, but the AR component of it is only for Apple phones. It makes extensive use of Apple’s AR Kit, so – for the moment at least – Android users are left out in the cold. An Android version is being looked at, but no promises on if/when it might see the light of day. A shame, but perhaps understandable.

Regarding the VR experience, those who suffer from motion sickness will likely be mostly okay here, though the opening animation can be a little disorientating as it consists of an empty void with images hurtling towards the user’s eyes. Goddess Mode might also trigger vertigo in some individuals but this can be mitigated by not going all the way to the furthest level of zoom. The control system is very intuitive for any gamer, defaulting to the by-now-standard left stick to move and right stick to rotate the camera, with the triggers being used to interact with characters. Even non-gamers should find this fairly easy to get to grips with as the game offers plenty of prompts and feedback, and the now common “teleport” method of moving in VR games is well implemented here, with a simple point and click all that is needed to move.

Graphically the game is nothing too special, bringing up comparisons to the graphical styles of Fortnight and Wildstar, but once immersed it’s very easy to simply be swept up in the experience. The graphics might be a bit cartoony, but it doesn’t distract from the events going on around the player. The voice acting is solid, featuring talent from both film, TV, and gaming.

Eleven Eleven is another attempt, as the creators themselves say, to break the frame, to move out of the confines of the television or the monitor or the tablet. While a very different animal it does bring up comparisons to the ill-fated Defiance and to Quantum Break, both of which attempted to mix up and integrate the TV and gaming experience in different ways. Quantum Break was criticised for essentially forcing gamers to sit and watch episodes of a TV program between sections, while Defiance‘s attempt to have events in the TV show influenced by events in their MMO (and vice versa) ultimately failed as the game was met with a mixed critical reception.

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Eleven Eleven, on the other hand, is a stand alone story; a rarity in the days of microtransactions and DLC hampering the experience. Customers can be confident that on buying this, they have a complete story to experience from start to end that isn’t reliant on another medium, or another game, or on buying DLC, and for that reason alone it should be supported. The fact it is also an engaging and enjoyable experience is merely the cherry on the cake.

Eleven Eleven is available to download now in VR in store at Oculus, HTC, Sony and Samsung; in AR via the App Store and through Sky VR.

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