Fantastic Contraption is a very interesting idea, where you basically manipulate parts to build contraptions that meet a certain goal. There is a tremendous amount of creativity that comes into play here, and the Oculus Touch controllers are fantastic as you manipulate different objects. Unfortunately the limited number of options to work with does limit the appeal somewhat, sometimes making a game of limitless possibilities surprisingly repetitive in places.
The introduction to Fantastic Contraption is excellent and simple. You quickly get a sense for wheels that turn in a specific direction. You then get axles that allow you to connect them. Then you can use rubber bands and more along the way. Initially I built a simple car that rolled forward to my target destination. Later I had to figure out ways to launch the small ball I had into a target square. All of the parts are here, creating a virtual world that reminded me of the building toys of my youth like LEGOs, Tinker Toys, Erector Sets and more.
The Oculus Touch controllers work wonderfully. You can pick up parts, stretch them out, connect them and more. It is all pretty darned intuitive, which is great - and somewhat necessary as the menu inside of the game is rather clunky. However, the majority of your time will be spent performing trial and error constructions. Once you build your device, you do not directly control it. You can position it, but then you let it rip and see what happens. Maybe you need to make the poles longer so the ball your homemade car is carrying is high enough to strike the target zone.
Each stage is a puzzle unto itself, with a similar yet varied objective as you try to put the orb to a certain target zone. Sometimes you launch it, other times you roll towards it - there's some pretty good variety here. The issue is, the overall toolbox is not a terribly varied one. It is cool that you can manipulate the connections in a variety of ways. For an idea of flexibility in the system, take one of the first puzzles I encountered, which was simply constructing a car. I rolled it forward and... well, the orb was too low. So I stretched the stick-like extensions upward so it would connect when rolling by this time. Except, that made the vehicle top-heavy and it tipped over. So I widened the base of my vehicle and this time it remained upright and hit its target.
Now, just because there aren't a lot of different types of tools to build with doesn't mean that the puzzles are all as mundane as my previous car example. There are options for sharing your contraptions online and the puzzles are actually pretty varied. Whether you enjoy what Fantastic Contraption has to offer will probably come down to your willingness to accept that this is not a traditional game. Each little objective is like its own puzzle. The Oculus Touch controls add a ton of value here, because the manipulation process is so good. The ability to look around the 3D environments is awesome and adds a little something extra to the experience, giving the creations a more tangible feeling.
Many games in VR are simply 'pretty' experiences that try to wrap your visual and audio senses up in a way that makes them appear more immersive. There's nothing wrong with this, but to that end I think Fantastic Contraption makes excellent use of the touch controls to do something a little different. The end result is an imaginative experience that is unique and at times, challenging.
If you enjoy trial and error puzzle games, this will be right up your ally. If you are looking for blazing action or a deep story, you will probably want to go elsewhere. I know that for my own personal preference, I tend to enjoy games that evoke an emotional response, usually through stories. While Fantastic Contraption does not quite have that level of appeal, it's still a good game that calls back to my childhood and the various different building toys I used to play with.
PC - Oculus Rift
Provided by Publisher
Article by Nick