The tale of Atlantis has been told countless times over, featuring in works dating back centuries capturing people’s imagination about a long lost civilisation with advance technology. So it’s only right that at some point the legend should appear in virtual reality (VR), with Orichalcum Pictures and VR Connection weaving it into puzzle title Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis. With a tale involving time travel, magic and the wrath of deities, the title carves its own path whilst trying to encompass this undying myth.
Rather than merely throwing you into Atlantis where you find yourself in the shoes of some random Atlantean, Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis begins with a sci-fi twist in the fact that during the future time travel has been invented. Rather than jetting off to some sun-soaked island paradise, you’ve chosen a historical adventure back to this fabled city, but so not to draw attention you actually embody a local. Well, that would be the case if it wasn’t for the fact that person just so happens to be the high priest, causing a little chaos in the process.
One of the main parts of the Atlantis story is that the kingdom fell afoul of the gods and was wiped out by a huge tsunami. It’s this climactic event which you need to stop and Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis points this out in dramatic fashion, with cut scenes depicting the enormous wall of water. Scale has always been one of those elements VR can really drive home and the developers show this to great effect here, creating an overwhelming sense of helplessness as this wave grows into a monster. The narrative has just as much impact – one of its strongest elements – and thanks to a decent level of voice acting ensure a satisfying tale.
Tall tales aside, Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis’ gameplay is all about solving puzzles to unlock the next stage and deliver its linear experience. Going into the videogame there was an expectation that Atlantis would be an enormous vibrant city to explore, with bustling streets and exciting secrets to find whilst unravelling its mysteries. There’s almost none of that. Locations like the harbour look impressive with high walls to protect the city in the distance yet everywhere is a bit devoid of life. The characters which do appear don’t particularly sell you on the notion that you should really care, you do actually have a special red button in your bag should you choose to hotfoot it out of there.
There’s no need to though as you have puzzles to solve with decent variation between them. Some puzzle titles can fall into a rut of reusing the same mechanics over and over again which can hamper the gameplay but Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis mostly avoids this issue. None of the puzzles are overly difficult, even towards the end there’s never really a spike. As such, there generally isn’t any moments of frustration or wondering what the hell you do next, each area is more like a mini escape room than anything else.
Importantly, all the puzzles are interactive, grabbing, pulling, pushing things to get you involved in the world. Outside of these elements, the world has little in the way of extras to distract you. Seashells can be found revealing tales from Atlantean’s and some smashable objects exist. You’re able to wield telekinetic abilities to push and pull objects at a distance which should be a lot of fun yet these abilities are restricted to certain items so there’s very little to experiment with. One of the highlights came in the forge area with a simple catapult which helped unlock part of a puzzle. It would have been nice to see a few more skill-based challenges.
Far more puzzling for a VR title in 2021 was the lack of accessibility. Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis features almost no options whatsoever apart from language and quality settings. Teleportation is the only way to get around, and while the mechanic has a decent arcing reticule comfortable for most players, nowadays a lot want the option of smooth locomotion as it provides a far more immersive experience. This also extends to the absence of a seated option. Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis can still be played seated but there’s no height adjustment which doesn’t suit all the puzzles.
Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis is a story-driven puzzle title with a nice flair for the dramatic. Grand elements are littered throughout, from the giant centurion battles to the towering temple at the city centre, yet there’s a sense a lot of this grandeur has been cut back. Especially when the first playthrough unlocked the Steam achievement for completing the videogame in 1 hour 30 minutes. It isn’t a complete one and done thankfully as there are multiple endings depending on five key choices you make along the way which gives the gameplay some much-need depth. Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis has some great ideas whilst seemingly missing some obvious ones.