Playing Higher Ground

System requirements:

  • Gear VR
  • Swivel chair

GAMEPLAY TL;DR

  • Look at a platform that contains an object (it will turn red), then hold down the action button to start absorbing the energy of the object on that platform. Ultimately your aim is to absorb the Guardian when you reach a high-enough position
  • Look at an empty platform (it turns yellow) then hold down the action button to start projecting energy onto it. With enough energy you create a clone of yourself and teleport into it. You can turn around and absorb your old self to conserve energy

THE LONGER VERSION

The idea (taken from The Sentinel) is that there’s a finite amount of energy in each level. A Tree is one unit, a Rock is 2, a Clone and a Sentry is 3 and the Guardian is 4. If a Sentry or the Guardian can see the platform you’re standing on, it can scan you. The Guardian has the more powerful scan and you won’t last long if you don’t move quickly. Likewise, you can scan any object that stands on a platform that you can look down on. The idea is to get to higher ground so you can overlook the Guardian, scan it and win the level.

You pick up energy by absorbing Trees, Rocks and (with caution, see below) Sentries. When the level starts you have limited energy, about enough to transport yourself once. The gauge at the top of the heads-up display gives an indication of your energy store, and thus life. To move, you use your energy to project a Tree, then convert it to a Rock then a Clone. Then you can transport yourself into that Clone, turn around and absorb the old shell.

The Guardian starts scanning right from the beginning, turning a small increment at certain time periods. It absorbs Trees, Rocks, and you or any of your Clones. It doesn’t keep the energy but rather scatters it by randomly, generating Trees, Rocks and Sentries.

The Sentries, however, are only generated when you have a certain amount of energy. The more energy you are storing, the more they’re attracted to you. And the higher your player level, the more sentries will be sent after you.

You have the choice of scanning a Sentry when it attacks you or moving on. The downside of absorbing too many Sentries is that the Guardian may plant a Bomb near you. You’ll hear the bomb ticking but you may not see it depending on the geography. The closer you are, the more damage, so move away unless you have energy to spare. In a panic you can hyperspace by looking at the sky and tapping. When you hyperspace you’ll end up somewhere random, no higher than your current position. You’ll also leave behind a clone. You can recover the energy later if you find it and absorb it before the Guardian gets to it.

As you get closer to the Guardian,  it rotates faster, and the space gets more crowded with Sentries (depending on your energy levels). This is where you need to keep an eye on your energy store and where the Guardian is facing. In the higher levels you also need to put a little thought into how you’re going to navigate the steeper jumps required near the top, as the navigation options are reduced.

The controls are minimal and only require a single button (Gear VR touchpad or action button on Gear VR Controller):

  • Look at a platform that contains an object (it will turn red), then hold down the action button to start absorbing
  • Look at an empty platform (it turns yellow) then hold down the action button to start projecting energy onto it
  • While projecting, once you have created a clone, release the action button to teleport
  • If you continue to hold down the button after a clone is created, the platform will rise
  • The platform’s rise is limited to a height where you can see the top
  • The extra energy you use to raise the platform is not recoverable
  • After teleporting, you should swing around and absorb your old self to minimize energy loss
  • If you project more energy than you have, you will lose your life
  • Tap while looking at the sky to hyperspace to a random location
  • To hyperspace you need enough energy to create a clone, otherwise you lose your life

Game-play goes something like this:

  • Absorb energy from platforms containing objects such as trees, rocks or sentries
  • Project energy to empty platforms to build a clone and teleport to that
  • With enough spare energy, continue projecting after a clone is created to raise the platform
  • Work your way up so you can overlook the Guardian’s platform to absorb it

Gameplay tips:

  • You need to keep some spare energy so you can take a few hits from sentries
  • But if you get greedy you risk getting more sentries sent after you
  • You have a decent chance of killing any sentry attacking you if you get it early
  • But if you kill too many you’re likely to get a bomb planted nearby
  • When the terrain is steep and you’re near the top, raising platforms can be useful
  • Raising a platform is also a good way of dumping excess energy if you’re seeing too many sentries

Add or select your user name at the start of your game. When you start the game for the first time, you are given a threat level of 1.  The last level you successfully completed will be stored, so you can continue from there in another session. When you are destroyed by the Guardian your threat level reduces. The highest threat level you reached, winning that level, will be stored permanently and is viewable via the score display. When you are level 1 you’ll get information panels popping up, giving you tips. The terrain starts flat, so you should be able to get through the first few levels easily and get comfortable with the gameplay.

On each play the terrain is different (it’s procedurally generated). As you increase your threat level, the terrain will become steeper, and more sentries will be dispatched to thwart your attack if you are carrying more than minimal energy. The Guardian will also put a little more haste into its rotation in order to scan you.

When you’re at a high threat level (around 9) things can get a little hectic near the summit of the terrain. With multiple player accounts supported for a single device, there may be an incentive to outrank your friends in threat level.

Have fun.