PAX East 2017: Cooperation and Accidental Betrayal in the VR Adventure of Mare

One needs to be fairly short on friends to latch on to a mechanical bird.  Mare is the story of a young girl in a red dress, and she’s been abandoned in an empty city.  She’s just lying there face-first on the ground when a mechanical bird flies by, perches on a weather vane, and just looks at her.  That’s enough for her, though, because she instantly decides to follow the bird wherever it flies.  This might not be a good idea.

The player guides the bird, and the girl tries to keep up as best she can.  Mare controls only by look, no gamepad or mouse/keyboard required, and is exclusive to the Oculus Rift.  Looking at a perch makes the bird fly there in a third-person view, and gazing at the occasional attacking shadow-beasts zaps them away.  It’s an interesting approach, and an effective one.  I found myself honestly worried about the girl when she slowly balanced her way across thin beams, or dropped down off ledges.  The bird only gets slowed down by the occasional obstacle between one perch and the next, cleared away by the girl as she reaches new areas, and its untouchable nature stands in strong contrast to her vulnerability.

The PAX East demo ended on a choice to solve a puzzle, with the easy solution being one of pure negligence.  As it turns out, trying to juggle progress versus the girl’s safety is a terrible idea, and I honestly felt somewhat guilty for my carelessness.  The demo ended and it’s not like I had a controller anyway, so while a reload wasn’t an option I’d have done it a second on my home system.  Mare is shaping up to be a beautiful and effective journey of an unlikely couple from a former Team Ico member, and it wears its influences and history on the surface.