Xing: The Land Beyond Review
Where would you journey in the afterlife? Free of all the chaos in the world of the living Xing: The Land Beyond provides a peaceful escape. Xing provides players with a classic sense of puzzle adventure not just on a monitor but in VR as well. It’s been some time since I was able to sit back and relax with a game like this. How long? It was Myst back when Dell PCs still had backgrounds with cows all over them, so I am a bit overdue and excited to see where this journey goes.
The narrative is a major component of Xing: The Land Beyond where you travel in the afterlife and are transported to different locations to hear the tales of others who have departed. Without spoiling the story, I can say that many of them can be very touching and/or moving often retracing footsteps of those whose life you are hearing about. Those stories often create a spiritual feeling to them, one that has you wanting to know more, move further ahead, yet at the same time relax and soak it all in. I was rather impressed with how they included many different points of view without them skewing towards one particular belief system.
Now Xing: The Land Beyond can be enjoyed in one of two ways, VR or with a regular monitor/TV. That is a great option to have and even better, both versions look absolutely incredible. I started with VR and honestly, it is one of the best looking VR games I have played to date. Switching and playing as I normally would, I was expecting a bit of a drop-off. I was wrong, it still is just as visually impressive. Sitting in a chair doesn’t offer the same kind of immersion of course, but still very appealing when played either way.
“… honestly, it is one of the best looking VR games I have played to date.”
Let’s start with some VR. The controls are pretty good and picking up things is made very easy. Visually, the controllers are wands that lend a helping hand, extending out your reach a bit so you can pick things up off the ground without having to bend over if you don’t want to (or can’t; a nice thing to have for accessibility). The movement is done by pointing the Vive controller in the direction you want to go and clicking the trackpad. It takes a little getting used to, but overall is still pretty good. This also means there is no teleporting, which is something of a divisive issue in many games. I tend to get queasy with this type of movement, but the first several times I played there were zero issues. Then for some unknown reason, one time I got sick near instantly after loading the game up. Not sure what happened that time, but this is where having the game playing outside of VR is a benefit because it means you can still enjoy it.
The regular controls were fairly comparable in terms of ease of use. No nice looking wand and I could only figure out how to pick things up with one hand, but luckily that wasn’t an issue. The biggest issue I encountered in either version was some rough terrain. Nothing major though, just the occasional jump over areas that I thought I might be able to walk smoothly over. The only other real negative were some puzzles and areas that required some more precise jumping. Those become a bit frustrating too because to get the jump right meant staring straight down to look and make sure that you didn’t fall into the water by jumping a hair early. I could have done without the jumping all together as it really didn’t add any positive to the game, only some moments of frustration.
“Xing: The Land Beyond is a good game no matter which way you choose to play it (VR, non-VR).”
Moving onto puzzles and exploration, most were quite fun and on occasion even a bit challenging. They did seem to rely on walking back to places you’d already been a little too often though. The game does play at a leisurely pace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean one wants to keep going back and forth over the same patch of ground for an extended period of time. This may have been exacerbated some by the design. They are good puzzles, but they seem to assume the player knows where to go from the start. That lead to a lot of wasted time in one section only to realize, everything was for naught as there was something else that needed to be triggered in another area first, but not the first area of the puzzle you happen upon. Not the worst thing to do, but depending on your patience level it might wear a bit a thin on you at times.
Overall, Xing: The Land Beyond is a good game no matter which way you choose to play it (VR, non-VR). The visuals create a great atmosphere and the story entices you to continue on the journey. The puzzles will challenge you at times and even better, the game has some legs as well. There are quite a few hours of gameplay, which is something hard to find in VR currently. When all is done there is still replayability as well. If you’ve been looking for a good atmospheric adventure puzzler keep Xing: The Land Beyond in mind.
*** PC key provided by the publisher ***
*** VR reviewed on HTC Vive ***
- Interesting story
- VR and traditional format
- Beautiful game world
- Some rough terrain
- VR movement