Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis is one of the first new Oculus Rift releases of 2021, but unfortunately, it doesn't get the year off to a great start. Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis is a first-person puzzle game that only gives players a brief prologue and two chapters to complete, though its incredibly short length is the least of its problems.
The majority of VR games are not as long or fully-featured as standard PC and console games, but they tend to make up for that lack of content with a heightened sense of immersion. While players might not get 50+ hours of gameplay out of a VR game, the trade-off is getting a genuinely unique experience that can't be replicated with a traditional setup. Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis makes it impossible to get properly immersed in the game thanks to some graphical oddities and audio issues that will suck players right out of the experience.
One of the most immersion-breaking situations in Ryte is whenever players come across a human NPC. In Chapter 2, a woman named Danae starts following the player around, but nothing she does makes her feel human in the slightest. Her jogging animation is awkward and unintentionally hilarious, while her facial animations are wooden and at least a decade behind the times. The human NPCs are somewhat reminiscent of those in older Bethesda games, though for reference's sake, the Ryte animations are a step below The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion - and that came out in 2006.
When players aren't laughing at the human NPCs, they'll be cringing at the voice acting. As if Danae's weird jogging wasn't enough to make her come across as one of the least-human NPCs ever conceived, the voice acting in the game drives that point home. No one in Ryte talks like a real person, with some odd enunciation choices and emotionless performances worsened by how excessively loud the characters are if players stand too close to them.
Luckily, Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis doesn't have too many NPCs that players encounter in the game, and only Danae sticks around for any extended period of time. Most of the experience is spent alone, exploring very restricted areas of Atlantis and solving puzzles. And while the NPCs look awful, at least the game world itself is pretty. The environments have a nice level of detail to them, with impressive lighting and an art style that perfectly matches the Ancient Greek vibe that the developers were going for.
It's a shame that exploring the Ryte world is such a restricted experience, with the game never realizing the promise of players going on a time traveling tourist trip to Atlantis. If it weren't for the supernatural Atlantean technology players acquire in the game, they really could be visiting any generic ancient Greece city, and it wouldn't make much difference to what they see. The game is essentially a bunch of disconnected escape rooms anyway, and so it never properly takes advantage of its potentially interesting setting.
While clearly inspired by classic puzzle game Myst, Ryte's puzzles are not nearly as difficult, and most players will likely breeze through the game. The only time that they may get stuck is if they can't find what they're looking for to solve the puzzle. For example, there is one puzzle in a forge where players have to use a slingshot to knock these big hammers free, but the slingshot is sitting on a box in a corner and there is no visual indication that it is any different than the other junk lying around the room. In these situations, players will eventually find themselves madly grabbing at whatever they can to make progress, and that does not make for a satisfying puzzle game.
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