Thursday, June 20, 2019
AR gamesAugmented RealityVirtual RealityVR games

A Closer Look at DICE-recognized AR and VR Games

A look at four AR and VR games that won awards or multiple DICE nominations.

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences recently awarded the 22nd Annual DICE Awards. The awards honor video games of all kinds and for all platforms. Sony’s God of War took home an impressive nine awards, including game of the year. Naturally, we’re excited for all of the winning titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, and Marvel’s Spider Man. However, what we’re really here for are the AR and VR games.

Eight AR and VR games were nominated in six categories, Immersive Reality Game of the Year, Immersive Reality Technical Achievement, Family Game of the Year, Outstanding Technical Achievement, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design. Most of those awards went to other games. AR and VR winners of the evening were Tónandi and Beat Saber and we thought that they deserved a little more attention. We’re also going to take a look at Moss and ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission. These titles didn’t win but were nominated in multiple categories and shouldn’t be ignored because they didn’t get trophies.

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Beat Saber by Beat Games

Beat Saber by Beat Games took home the top award for AR, MR, and VR games, Immersive Reality Game of the Year. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero mixed with Fruit Ninja. The player puts on a headset and sees blocks marked with different colors or shapes. The colors and shapes determine the direction that the players should hit the boxes from and with which saber. Handheld controllers manage the sabers. The boxes are synced with a song, usually the percussion. Generally, the faster the song the more difficult the game. The game comes with songs, but users have also created their own levels based on some of their favorite songs. There’s a ton of YouTube videos and playlists of gamers showing off their skills or their custom songs. Videos of players were also big on social media in the months leading up to the awards.

Beat Saber won the award because of it’s simple, fun, and addictive nature. It was up against stiff competition from more complex VR games like Moss and games by bigger studios like Ubisoft. The VR game is available on Steam, the Oculus Store, and the Playstation Store through the link above.

Tónandi by Magic Leap and Sigur Rós

Tónandi took home the DICE Award for Immersive Reality Technical Achievement. It might be more accurate to say that Tónandi is an experience rather than a game. It has no objective, and no conclusion. That experience is a collaboration between Magic Leap and the Iceland-based band Sigur Rós.

“Tónandi” is Icelandic for “sound spirits”, the subjects of the experience. Sounds in the environment produce Tónandi out of thin air. Tónandi take many different shapes and sizes and behave differently. Some of them are more like plants while others are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Users can interact with the Tónandi by reaching out to them. You don’t need any  controllers, which makes the experience even more immersive.

ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission by Sony

ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission didn’t take home any awards, although it was nominated for Immersive Reality Game of the Year, Immersive Reality Technical Achievement, Outstanding Technical Achievement, and Family Game of the Year.astro bot VR game

The VR game follows ASTRO, who must travel through space rescuing other BOTs. There are 20 main levels as well as 26 challenge levels.

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Exclusively for PS VR, the game requires a DualShock 4 controller for various actions. It’s specifically used for manipulating a variety of tools and gadgets throughout the adventure. However, it does get your body into the game. While sitting in a chair, players can look around corners, weave through obstacles, and perform other simple tasks.

Moss by Polyarc

Moss lost out to other titles in its categories too, but was nominated for Immersive Reality Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design.

The VR game follows Quill, a mouse who must fight enemies, solve puzzles, and navigate strange, beautiful and immersive environments. Specifically built for VR, the game features breathtaking graphics, realistic sound effects, and a breathtaking score. While it didn’t take any DICE Awards home, it has won other awards, including a 2018 Gamers’ Choice Award.

moss VR game

Moss is available on PS4, Vive, Oculus, and Windows Mixed Reality.

Games don’t need DICE Awards to be worth buying. However, these accolades help us to understand what games are worth looking into and why. This is especially true of games that win awards without really being in the spotlight. Tónandi and ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission didn’t have nearly as much attention as Beat Saber and Moss before awards season. Certainly all of these great AR and VR games are worth a playthrough.

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance writer specializing in Technology and Health. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife and cat.