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VR Roadside Picnic Game INTO THE RADIUS Launches Into Early Access

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how Into the Radius had re-piqued my interest in the VR craze. Roadside Picnic games have been around for a while now, and as a subgenre it’s still yet to realize its full potential. More polished games like Metro: 2033 trade openness for functionality. Even Metro: Last Light had to abandon many of the conceits of an open-world game in favor of a more direct combat focus. The map might be open, and you might be able to drive around it, but fundamentally it’s the same concept as the Mega Man level select screen. Meanwhile, more experimental games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the more recent Chernobylite are notoriously buggy. This comes with the upside of a more “living” world, where exploration might yield a pit full of blood-sucking vampire monsters guarding a rock that grants you the ability to slow time.

So which side of the spectrum does Into the Radius land on? I’m not sure yet. The game bills itself as open-world, and certainly sounds crazy enough to fit in with the weirder side of the Roadside Picnic inspired spectrum. From the game’s official about:

Inspired by the seminal sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Into the Radius combines Eldritch horror storytelling with open-world Virtual Reality exploration and realistic weapon handling. Life and death intertwine inside the Radius, lurking somewhere in the middle of everything is the answer to a question you can’t quite remember. Through the flickering memories of your tarnished life as a former resident of Pechorsk and now UNSPC specialist, your only means of survival is to stalk the strange and threatening zone and complete the missions assigned to you.

So if I don’t really know if Into the Radius good or not, why am I still excited? The trailer doesn’t exactly look like this will be the next The Last of Us. To me, VR is best when being experimental. Why create a whole new technology and way to interact with the world if you’re just going to try to make another Call of Duty? The promise of Roadside Picnic games has always lied within the concept, the meshing of spacial anomalies and gritty realistic survival. I like the idea of having to wear a gas mask because an alien artifact fused with a nuclear reactor, and now all the trees leak radiation. The ability to explore this uncanny alien world warped just to the limits of our recognition is something I’d like to do in an immersive VR environment.

Luckily, we can now all check it out. Well, the first few hours at least. Into the Radius has now launched on Steam Early Access. It’s available now for 30% off, and runs on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality. I didn’t even know those last two were things, which shows how out of the VR loop I am. It still doesn’t reach full launch until Q1 2020, so there’s plenty of time for the game to still reach its final form. Until then, let me know what you think. I’m gonna try it out when my Vive comes in, but more VR savvy people will have to let me know how it stacks up.