Pixel Rift – Retro Style VR Game

Posted October 14, 2014 by in All

All Demos: ,
Developer: Pixel Rift Team
Demo Release Date: 20-09-2014
Version: 0.1
Type: Retro Arcade
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
HMD: Oculus Rift DK2
Download: Download Here
Control Schemes: Xbox Controller, Keyboard & Mouse

Best Part:

The Final Boss

Worst Part:

Over too soon. Not particularly replayable.
Bottom Line

The demo for Pixel Rift is fun and very creatively designed – experimenting (mostly successfully) on manipulating the player’s attention. Shows great promise!






Comfort Level


Total Score

3.5/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Casually glancing through screenshots, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Pixel Rift for a Gameboy emulator, with the VR component nothing more than a gimmicky distraction.

Pixel Rift 3It is, in fact, much more creative than that. For a start, the game that you play is original, but more importantly, the environment you’re playing it in is essential to the experience in both mechanics and message. Pixel Rift playfully presents an intimate connection between a classic videogame and the human context in which it was played. In doing so, it doesn’t just exploit nostalgia – it explores nostalgia.

The full game promises to be a history of the graphical and mechanical evolution of a fictional game, Pixel Rift, told alongside the biography of a player. The demo of Pixel Rift is supposed to be ‘level 3’. It takes place in a classroom in 1989, featuring classmates and a haggard, northern teacher. It’s a  stylised setting but one that is universally relatable. There is enough definition in the characters to make the scene interesting and plausible, but not so enthralling that you forget about your trusty GameGirl portable gaming system – which you’ll need to sneak in micro-sessions on when teacher isn’t watching.

Pixel Rift 2The game-within-a game is not especially sophisticated – just challenging enough to require some attention but designed such that you can put it down easily when your focus is drawn away by the teacher or a classmate challenging you to shoot a spitball into the bin. The design of the experience as a whole is very tight – every feature serves a purpose and contributes to the whole; neither your GameGirl nor the classroom has primacy. Both compete equally for your attention and both hold it for as long as they’re supposed to. The level climaxes in a boss fight which tests all you’ve learnt and captures that sense of all-consuming importance that boss fights did when you were young.

The visuals are not without their imperfections but they do their job. When characters talk directly to you it doesn’t feel strictly natural, but since character interaction is still something of a treat in VR games, it works well enough to add to, rather than detract from, the experience.

I don’t think that Pixel Rift would have worked as well as it does on the DK1. Some of the neat little design affordances would simply not have been possible on the DK1 screen – like being able to play some sections of the level with most of your GameGirl all but completely hidden under the desk, just glancing down with your eyes.

Pixel Rift 1The current demo of Pixel Rift is quite short but it’s a memorable experience with a delightful climax. The full game is due for release next year and can be supported on Steam Greenlight now. I’m certainly very curious to see how the other time periods are presented. If they’re as creative as the demo is, and if it all holds together as some sort of coherent narrative, then I’ve no doubt that Pixel Rift will, itself, one day be looked back upon with nostalgia.

Download Here

Vote for Steam Greenlight Here



About the Author


Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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