"Come on man, WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!"
Augmented Reality games are a neat thing, but there aren't a lot of them which have captured my interest beyond that. But I've finally found one that I'm really into in the Sony booth at Tokyo Game Show. Open Me is a game where the player is presented with a box, which must be opened. Think Hellraiser, but without all of the clean-up necessitated by a visit from alternate reality sadomasochistic demons.
The TGS demo featured puzzles meant for two players, though I was assured that there will be many solo boxes to open as well. After scanning a code block, a wooden box appears like the one above. The box is fully three-dimensional, and looks simple enough. On attempting to lift the lid, however, two metal bands flipped up from the sides and clamped it down, preventing me from creating more than a slight gap.
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To keep those bands from popping up, I had to hold them down with my fingers while my partner opened the lid to reveal a coupon in the box. Tapping the coupon to retrieve it, the lid grew teeth and snapped back down, which gave me a bit of a start (and a laugh). The box's lid would need to be held by the other player in order to prevent it from causing injury. A hand with one bandaged finger appeared in the lower right corner of the Vita's display, which serves as a health meter (a second hand pops up once the first is fully injured, for a total of ten mistakes possible before total failure).
And that's a very simple example. The next box was metallic, with a button on its top. Pressing this button caused panels to open on two of the sides, one displaying a five digit number and the other a nine button keypad and both with a meter indicating a limited amount of time to properly enter the sequence. There were five of the sequences to enter and, after each, the buttons for the keypad player would change their composition, introducing symbols as well as numbers.
Once several of these codes were entered, the box changed again, producing a laser beam which had to be reflected over to a sensor on the opposite end using the two Vitas. This was probably the most challenging to pull off, as it was kind of hard to tell where the laser was in relationship to your partner, and getting the angles right was tricky.
I love this idea so much. It's not a complicated game, but the possibilities for challenging and creative puzzle designs is vast. The multiplayer element is really cool, and it's fun to work on a puzzle cooperatively with another player, but I can't help thinking that the chances of my encountering another person with a Vita who wants to play Open Me! when I have one with me are kind of low. So, I'm highly interested, but I'd have to know a bit more about exactly how much single-player content will be available in the release before I would throw my money down. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more on this as something to snag when I finally invest in a Vita.