With Access Code indie developer Hidden Path Entertainment brings us an entertaining crime adventure that puts you in the shoes of a special agent. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to retrieve a stolen painting and uncover a conspiracy surrounding it. Instead of brute force, you will need to use your wits in order to solve around 30 puzzles that stand between you and saving the day!
Access Code plays pretty much like a classic point and click adventure in VR. You explore your surroundings by pointing at objects in your vicinity that will give you clues on how to solve the puzzle at hand. During the whole game, you will be accompanied by your colleague Eve, who is not present physically but connected to you via audio feed. Eve will give you good advice on how to proceed and important information from the headquarters. If you were Jack Bauer, she would be your Chloe O’Brian. And Eve does a great job as well. She elegantly leads you from puzzle to puzzle while giving you subtle clues that in general point you in the right direction without spoiling the fun of still having to solve the puzzles by yourself. Overall, Eve is a great addition to the game with a very pleasant voice to listen to.
The puzzles that you have to solve during the game come in a large variety. There are classic puzzles where you have to find the correct pin code to open a door for example or more elaborate ones that have you use objects from your environment in order to reach your objective. Puzzles generally have the right difficulty level. They are not too simple but also not too hard. Developer Hidden Path Entertainment has found a good balance and allows you to get into a puzzle solving flow while telling an interesting story. Well done!
As what locomotion is concerned, you are only able to teleport yourself from scene to scene by clicking on footsteps that indicate to which area you can move. This restriction makes sense for a point and click adventure like we have it here, where every single scene hides a certain puzzle, but a bit more freedom of movement would have been desirable.
Access Code looks truly stunning and I must say that I was quite surprised when I started to play the game. Instead of going for animations, the developer has included live videos right into the VR scenes. And these VR scenes look nearly photo realistic themselves. I have not seen this approach before and even though your interactions with the live video scenes themselves are somehow limited, it still feels totally different when you are for example hiding from a non player character that actually is a live video of an actor walking around in the scene that you are investigating. This is well done and it makes you feel as if you are truly immersed within an espionage thriller.
Next to these cutting-edge graphics, developer Hidden Path Entertainment has also done a great job in the audio department. Music is atmospheric and fits the scenes and overall the voice acting is well done. Again, it is a pleasure to listen to Eve and over the course of the adventure you will start to like her.
Access Code is a great match for Virtual Reality as it brings the classic point and click adventure to the new medium. As mentioned above, at times you will feel like you are the main actor of an espionage thriller with all the live action video around you. Controls in general aren’t in your way so you can completely concentrate on immersing yourself into the crime scenes. Since your movement is quite limited though you are still constantly reminded that you are in a scripted game and that you are here to solve puzzles and not to freely roam around. Even though that takes a bit away from being completely immersed, it is still forgivable and I would still rather play this game in VR than on a 2D screen. Perhaps for the successor, the developer could consider to allow the player to move within a scene to allow for a stronger feeling of immersion.
Since there is no movement at all you won’t have any problems with comfort in Access Code. You will simply teleport to other scenes and as mentioned above, when in a scene you do not have the ability to move around. Anyways, Access Code manages to capture your attention and sucks you into its story, making you feel comfortable to stay in VR for extended periods of time.
Access Code is a well crafted crime adventure that succeeds at bringing the tried and true formula of point and click adventures into VR. It does not reinvent the wheel but it does not need to. The puzzles are fun to solve in VR and the graphics are great. Especially the live action videos that merge seamlessly into the environments are so well done that at times you will feel like you are in a spy movie. The game will entertain you with well balanced puzzles for around 3 hours and for an asking price of $4.99, there is really nothing you can do wrong here. Access Code is highly recommended and hopefully there will be a second part that we can sink our teeth into soon!