by Burbie52, HSM team writer
Heavy Water is one of Home’s oldest and most respected developers. In the years since Home’s creation, they have brought us a wide variety of content in their signature dark, edgy style. From the coveted Chamber Apartment to Avalon Keep, from a huge variety of tattoos to Peeps in multiple varieties, they have always been known for stepping out into uncharted territory in virtual commodities. Now they are also showing us that they have a sense of humor by bringing us one of the most unique and innovative games ever to hit the Home front: Emo Ray VS. The Intergalactic Teddy Bears.
The first time I heard about this game I laughed out loud.
The game is the first of its kind in Home, and the first full-blown game that Heavy Water has created. It doesn’t use your avatar, but instead transforms you into the character — Emo Ray — launching from a new public space created just for this purpose. This single-player game is a third-person shooter that involves racing around a city in your souped-up van, killing alien teddy bears as you try to rescue the love of your life along with a few friends and others you meet along the way. The game is rendered in comic-book shades of black, white and red. This gives the game a feel that will be totally different from anything else in Home. It reminds me of the movie/comic Sin City, which was produced with the same colors and has the same urban, gritty feel. That alone will set this game apart from anything else in Home.
The game further resembles a comic book by being released in a series of volumes — basically chapters of an ongoing storyline. Each volume contains four chapters, and will require one to two hours of play time to complete it. New story segments will be released every two months. There is a free two-part tutorial when you first enter the game, which lasts approximately twenty minutes. Once this is done, there is an action mode that allows one hour of free-play driving and shooting bears before the game locks down and becomes pay-to-play. The initial purchase not only unlocks the game, but includes a personal space, a full avatar costume of Emo Ray for both male and female, and a boom box with one song from the game. It is a very good buy, in my opinion.
The initial purchase price is $9.99. Side missions will cost $2.99 apiece, and the second volume release will cost $7.99. I would imagine all of the continuing volumes and side missions will be priced similarly.
The boom box is going to be an interesting new product, because as you finish each section of the game it will add a new song to play in Home. By the end of the two volumes, eight chapters and associated side quests, there will be a total of five songs in the box’s repertoire. The music is all original work from a band in California named So Long Davey.
There is a scoring system involved called mod points, which are used to buy upgrades within the game. This will give the game a lot of replayability, as you hone your scoring skills — you can replay each chapter to get a better score. As you improve, you earn more mod points, which you can use to buy upgrades for weapons and other items. There is also a time feature that will prevent people from just camping in one spot and making easy kills to boost their leader-board scores. After a period of time in one place you will no longer earn any points at all!
There is also built-in dialogue to help move the story along, something that I have never before seen in a Home game. So far, most of the games we’ve had in Home are avatar-based, and the only chatting is our own. In this game, you rescue people and bring them back to a safe house type of space. Once rescued, they will stay there and talk to you about events in the story line if you walk up to them, just like NPCs in disc-based video games. Not only that, the NPCs will occasionally pop up during play in text bubbles and say things to you about what is happening. This type of game is a totally new idea for the Home scene.
In-between the volume releases, Heavy Water plans to sell add-on packs for extra missions and side questing. Each side mission will add approximately an hour of game-play, and will grant associated rewards as well. There will be two side mission packs in between each main storyline volume. The side quests will not affect the story, but will add depth to the gaming experience, just like they do in regular disc-based games.
As for the reward hunters out there, there will be plenty for you here as well. The rewards range range from clothing items to furniture, as well as those unlockable songs for the boombox. All will be themed to suit the game and its personal space.
For a first game, I have to say that Heavy Water has really made a huge splash into the Home gaming pool with this one. I am really looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us as the game progresses into the next chapters. I hope that the community supports them in this effort, so we can all continue to have fun killing those bloodthirsty teddy bears for a long time to come.