The key to Ocean Rift is understanding that this is a casual experience, not a game in the traditional sense. It is a good demonstration of the Oculus Rift technology and its ability to immerse you in an experience, though in the end for all of its deep sea exploration, the experience is a shallow one.
This is a title that has Oculus Touch enabled, but it is not required by any means. You can use the Rift controller or an Xbox controller as well. I tired them all, and they were all just fine. The Touch is probably the most intuitive however, as you essentially control some propellers and aim them with your hands to drag yourself about the environments.
And the environments are were Ocean Rift is strongest. You pick one of a dozen different areas or stages to work with. Each one is slanted towards a different type of underwater animal. The most limiting is the white shark stage, as you are essentially in a cage 'for your safety' as it swims about. It is an interesting idea that probably is too limited for its own good. Perhaps doing something a bit more cinematic with it such as seeing the shark try to break in all Jaws-like would have improved this particular one, but as it stands there is nothing really to do but float around your small box and look around.
The other environments are far more open and encourage you to explore them. Everything from stony arches to sunken ships and more provide a nice aesthetic to go with your hunt for different types of sea animals. Some of the environments are darker and murkier than others, and while these ones are not quite as pleasant to look around, it does add some variety to the proceedings. Everything from dolphins to sharks to whales to sea snakes and more move around their environments convincingly. They do not interact with you, but depending on the creature will surface for air or nibble on some nearby fish as well.
While the actual exploration is well done, especially from a visual and sound design perspective, there really is nothing more to do. You never interact with anything, you have no control over anything other than the direction and speed of your movements, so you are essentially just wandering about an interesting visual environment. To that end the graphics are excellent, with great use of color and lighting while the creatures are well animated. The only complaint I have is the way you phase through many of the creatures, creating an immersion-breaking clipping much of the time.
You really can't look at a title such as Ocean Rift and compare it to a traditional game. The touch controls are nice but hardly necessary. The visuals are quite good but in the end Ocean Rift comes off as more of a technical demo for the Oculus that serves as a better experience than game. Now, that being said, it is a solid experience - keep in mind that five is average and I feel that this is slightly above that despite the lack of things to do besides exploration. That being said, it is an entertaining, almost peaceful way to spend ten or twenty minutes, as some of the coolest, largest creatures to be found do take some time and effort to locate.
Given the low price here, I can heartily recommend Ocean Rift as one of those demo titles for when you have a guest over looking to try something other than just the default Oculus software. With its simple, intuitive controls and impressive audio and visual design, Ocean Rift does make for a solid first impression.
PC - Oculus Touch
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Article by Nick