Hands-on: 'Eye of the Temple' is a Clever Room-scale Puzzler That Lets You Become Indiana Jones – Road to VR

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Eye of the Temple is an upcoming VR game that takes full advantage of the room-scale abilities of your VR headset, letting you walk, dodge, and duck your way through a vast temple complex. You use your own two feet to make your way through, which really brings you closer to the feeling of truly being Indiana Jones. Oh, and there’s a torch and whip. And a hat.

The game’s ‘First Steps’ demo, which is available for free on Steam, offers a pretty generous amount of gameplay. It took me about 45 minutes to finish, of course with a few deaths and back-tracking to account for. There’s an almost overwhelming amount of extra things to do and pathways to explore, and that’s just the demo.

If the full game, which is said to arrive on PC VR headsets sometime in 2020, can manage to serve up the same level of wonderment in a bigger package, we may have a really interesting and well-realized game on our hands. Moreover, we’ll have one that really pushes the capabilities of room-scale locomotion.

If you’ve ever been to a large-scale VR attraction like The Void, the principle behind Eye of the Temple is essentially the same: even though you’re physically walking in a 2 m² area (20 ft²) in your house, you’re shuffled around the in-game world in such a way that you never leave your playing area. This is done in a number of clever ways.

Firstly, the game makes heavy use of moving blocks which are just big enough to stand on and transport you through the world. These can take you horizontally through the puzzle-like configuration of multiple blocks to reach specific goals, but also up and down to different levels within the game. It’s a good way of getting you to travel longer distances than you normally would with only so much space in your living room, office, or bedroom.

And believe me: you’ll need all the space you can get, lest you want to violently bump your desk, closet, or priceless Ming Dynasty-era vase.

The second method is even more clever, although it definitely felt the weirdest in terms of overall comfort. Rolling pillars are there to move you forward in game while you physically move backwards, as if you were trying to balance on a cartoon tree trunk spinning in water. This, in practice, lets you reset your standing position while moving forward in the game, although it really just felt like another cool skill-based trap to traverse.

I also saw a minecart track which wasn’t accessible in the demo, so you might consider that three really fun and engaging ways of moving around so far.

As for non-block based locomotion puzzles, the most difficult of which is a room with a very Indian Jones-themed ceiling drop, you’re also given a torch and bull whip, the latter of which unfurls automatically when you reach a far-away lever or other puzzle element. The whip will definitely take you a while to get used to; I flailed around and missed targets more than I care to admit.

The torch is used in puzzles too (find the fire at point A, light the torch and get it to point B to activate something, etc) but it also adds a cool exploration vibe to it all, as the torch’s light dances around dynamically and helps bring dark indoor spaces to life.

Indie developer Rune Skovbo Johansen started work on Eye of the Temple back in Spring 2016—basically the very beginning of room-scale gaming. Since then, it seems many VR games have taken a turn towards seated play, and methods that rely more on artificial locomotion to get users moving in-game, making this both a unique, and uniquely well done adventure-themed puzzle game so far.

If you want to keep tabs on the full game, you can wishlist it on Steam here. There’s no specific launch date yet outside of ‘2020’, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled in the meantime.

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