With Oculus Rift such a new force in the games industry, it’s almost excusable that the most visible titles at the moment, undoubtedly Half-Life 2 and Custom Maid 3D, don’t present shining examples of modern graphical fidelity. It looks like all of that’s about to change, however, with the entrance of Mindfield Games onto the scene with their new game, Pollen.
Here’s a brief description of the IP, courtesy of Mindfield:
Pollen is a first-person exploration game set on Titan, the sixth and largest moon of Saturn and the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere and vast liquid seas, where life may exist. Inspired by science-fiction classics Solaris, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Moon, as well as adventure games Gone Home and The Dig, Pollen begins as the player docks and enters Research Station M. Inside the research station, the player moves from room to room and explores a fully interactable environment. Each step forward leads to new discoveries about the fate of the crew and the secrets that they have uncovered.
Judging by the crisp, beautiful environments showcased in both screenshots and the teaser trailer, comparisons to the directorial oeuvres of Kubrick and Tarkovsky are by no means unwarranted. It’d be amiss to not recognize such inspiration, as the trailer, composed in one long tracking shot, comes off as a brilliant homage to both directors’ visual style.
The developers seem content to leave their expectant audience guessing on the overall story, again mentioning debts to Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey, films that are exemplary of free-roaming existential explorations rather than linear Hollywood storytelling.
What’s most encouraging about the project is that the developers have set full optimization with Oculus Rift as their primary goal. Here’s some key info from Mindfield on the specifications:
Pollen will be released for PC in 2015 with optimization for Oculus Rift. Our first priority is to make a great story-exploration game, but support for head-mounted displays has been an important feature since the concept phase. The game is playable with both keyboard and mouse or gamepad, with or without Oculus Rift. Linux and Mac will be supported in the future.
Based out of Finland, Mindfield at this stage has no specified release date apart from “2015”, but it has been a work in a progress for two years. With Europe leading the way in next-gen visuals and VR-support, it’s hard not to be rooting for the incredibly talented Finns developing Pollen. And with great cinematic auteurs as points of inspiration, the promise for this title really shines bright. As Andrei Tarkovsky, director of Solaris noted:
The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable.
—words that apply just as acutely to developing virtual reality, one could assert.