March 13, 2014 8:45 PM | Lena LeRay
Vitei, Inc. took home the Vermillion Gate Award at BitSummit with The Modern Zombie Taxi Driver. That wasn't the only Oculus Rift game on the floor, though. Land Ho!, the developer of the recent Xbox One release Crimson Dragon, was also showing an Oculus Rift version of their upcoming game, Project Life.
In The Modern Zombie Taxi Driver, the player is a taxi driver ferrying zombies around town. Upon picking up a zombie, the zombie tells them where it wants to go, a navigation system in the car's dashboard points in the right direction, and the player drives. It's a very simple concept, but Vitei has milked all the fun and humor out of it that they can. Everything, zombies included, is in bright colors. The zombie in the passenger seat is basically a limp body flopping around realistically with the movement of the car, making noises in the player's ear. The zombie pays extra money if the driver runs over things on the way to destination. The player gets the zombie out of the car by crashing into the destination itself so that the zombie is thrown forward out of the window. It's the little touches that make the game shine, and its mildly silly premise works really well.
Vitei seemed surprised by the success they had with The Modern Zombie Taxi Driver at BitSummit. They certainly didn't expect to win the Vermillion Gate Award. When I talked to them early on, they said that whether or not they did much with the game would depend on the fate of the Oculus Rift. After the awards ceremony, however, they said that they felt like they really need to do something with the game since it was so well received.
This game is being developed for both Oculus Rift and iOS, and though I didn't get to try the iOS version, the Oculus Rift version is fantastic. In Project Life, the player is a glowing blue orb, which represents a healthy cell out to rid the bloodstream of bad cells. The control scheme is a twin-stick shooter that feels a lot like Geometry Wars, though it's slower paced and the player moves along a linear track instead of moving freely within a set area. In the Oculus Rift version, the forward direction on the joysticks is always the direction the player is looking, which is great for those of us with muscle memory from years of gaming but which might be counter-intuitive for newcomers. That's a conundrum Land Ho! won't have to face any time soon, though, since the Oculus Rift isn't commercially available yet.