I’m pretty good at navigating new cities using a map, where McDonalds and Starbucks act as landmarks on my journey. It’s a lot more difficult when that McDonalds is instead a lonely tree, and the Starbucks is a big rock, as Virtual-O will show you.
This is an first-person orienteering sim. You’re dropped into a chunk of Czech countryside prettier than anything in Skyrim, with a compass and a detailed map you hold in your hands like Far Cry 2. The difference is that, unlike in Far Cry 2 and most other games, you can’t see yourself magically projected onto that map. You have to situate yourself on it using the compass, your surroundings, and – in my case, at least – a shaky sense of distances.
It’s tremendously relaxing to spend time in a beautiful environment in this way, but the best bit is maybe the map replay you get at the end, which does project you onto that map. You can watch the bit where you got confused at a rock and double backed on yourself, and the eight minutes you spend spinning on the spot, hopelessly lost, trying to work out where you are.
Virtual-O is in early access on Steam. Updates have been fairly irregular over the past four years, but there’s plenty of fun to be had with what’s currently available.