The first VR experience based on author Brandon Sanderson’s popular Stormlight Archive series has arrived. The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains marks the first time that the books have been translated to a visual medium, giving fans the chance to put themselves in the shoes of one of the series’ main heroes, Kaladin Stormblessed, as well as get the chance to see what a possible film or TV show adaptation could look like further down the line.
The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains was developed by Arcturus in partnership with DMG Entertainment with a twofold purpose in mind: the aforementioned fan experience is part of the proceedings, but the VR session will also be used to help DMG Entertainment (which owns the rights to Sanderson’s series) pitch the franchise for Hollywood or TV adaptations.
I had the chance to try out the experience a few weeks ago, and it’s a pretty faithful representation of Sanderson’s books. Instead of trying to recreate a slice of the roughly 1,000 page The Way of Kings out of context, Arcturus decided to create an original story that fit the narrative restrictions of the medium rather than hew toward a specific part from the novel.
The experience is also a bit limited — as someone who’s a fan of the series, it’s pretty great to see and experience some of the magic and locations from the novel, most of which have never had any real visualizations before beyond what I’ve imagined in my head. And there’s a particularly stunning moment where players are given just a glimpse of Kaladin’s gravity-defying powers in a mind-bending moment where you walk up a wall, which would be fantastic to explore in a future title.
As a VR experience, though, it’s a fairly standard affair from a gameplay perspective. You’re able to teleport around a more or less open environment and interact with the local flora and fauna, before a combat sequence at the end against a massive, crab-like monster called a chasmfiend. More interesting is the use of “stormlight”, which lets you fling around rocks and send them flying through the air at obstacles or foes, but it really only just scratches the surface of what the magic systems in Sanderson’s novels can do.
Still, for die-hard Sanderson fans, The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains is a fun experience to try — and hopefully, if the Hollywood pitching side of things goes well, it will be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adaptations of The Stormlight Archive.
The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains is available today for $10.99 for the HTC Vive on Viveport and Steam.