Augmented Empire: An RPG trip down the VR looking glass

If it wasn’t for British development studio Coatsink’s Augmented Empire, my Samsung Gear VR would still be gathering dust.

Instead, it’s being used to order around characters in the city of New Savannah, the location for Coatsink’s latest game that’s described as a tactical RPG.

Coatsink will be most well-known for its VR games Esper and Esper 2, and Augmented Empire follows a similar tradition by placing the player in a comfortable chair, this time looking over proceedings, making orders to the six lead characters. The game features an impressive voice cast including Doug Cockle, who voices Geralt in The Witcher series, Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek Voyager and Orange is the New Black and Coatsink regular Nick Frost, who appeared in movies Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead.

Augmented Empire is a turn-based game where you can use either a game pad or gaze-based control to move the character you’re playing: You move two spaces around the play area then any foes in the area move two spaces. Combat follows a similar pattern, although you can dodge in coming attacks via a simple Quick Time event. The game twists the traditional RPG element by having the player viewing goings-on from a bird’s-eye view, letting you get a great view of the play area so you can plan the next move.

Visually, I was impressed with Augmented Empire and its cartoon-ish visuals that have a surprising level of depth and detail that I wasn’t expecting. You don’t expect much from VR visuals on the Gear VR but Coatsink have done a fantastic job in creating an interesting game world. At times the visuals reminded me of the Esper games, but darker and more detailled.

When I first got my GearVR, I couldn’t stop playing it: It was something new and novel and I devoured games like Darknet, Anshar Wars 2, End Space, Gunjack, Land’s End and the two Esper gamesl. After a while, thought I got bored with VR and the sore I eyes it was giving me and the headset sat on a shelf on my computer desk, gathering dust.

Thanks to Coatsink and Augmented Empire, though, I finally have a reason to dust off my GearVR and use it again.

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