We often refer to the rhythm of life and living in harmony with nature, using music as a metaphor. But what if music weren't just an analogy, but instead represented the basis of a powerful magic system? That's one of the ideas driving Ionia, the newly released first game in the Rhythm of the Universe series of VR-exclusive action-puzzle adventures by ROTU Entertainment.
The people of Ionia have long lived in sync with the forest, and with the Harpa, an "endangered mythical being" at its heart. Sadly, that peace has lately been shattered by the invading Tritone army, who are cutting down and burning the trees in their path, weakening the spirit of the Harpa and the Ionian people alike until their lives are hanging by a thread. Determined not to give up without a fight, you and your sister Allegra are on a mission to save the Harpa, and therefore the world, through music. To do so you'll find yourself literally playing the fantastical plants and creatures around you, using your virtual hands to conjure up "sharp drum beats, soft bell tones, and other eclectic echoes" in response to the forest's rhythms.
Despite the danger threatening its destruction, Ionia is a truly stunning place. Not limited to merely exploring on foot, you'll have the chance to climb, zipline and ride your way through "breathtaking vistas" of lush forests, plains and caves teeming with unique alien life. The flamboyantly imaginative, intricately detailed 3D environments at times give off a definite Avatar vibe, and vine-climbing in VR looks to be a suitably visceral experience. A gameplay trailer provides an additional glimpse of what's in store in the game itself.
Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia is available now on Steam, the Oculus Store and Viveport for Rift, Quest, VIVE Cosmos, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality, with a PSVR version to follow soon. Purchasing the game doesn't just mean saving endangered animals in a fictional world, either, as the developers are backing up their ecological message with a commitment to real-world causes. Five percent of the sales revenue will go to benefit Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, an environmental charity established by Steve and Terri Irwin to protect "injured, threatened or endangered wildlife."