Budget Cuts is a science-fiction stealth videogame in which the player is tasked with infiltrating an enemy base without being caught by the many patrolling robotic guards. It pulls you in with the first-person analysis and, despite its surreal setting and visuals, is just as demanding and absorbing in its planning and execution as any Metal Gear videogame. This, it seems, is something that Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) Shuhei Yoshida recently discovered for himself.
It’s a shy away from action-orientated gameplay experiences, presenting the player with a much slower pace of gameplay than might be expected. A solitary guard stands in front of you and there’s an obviously signposted exit. A path from your entry point to that exit is what is required, but more often than not the quickest route is much less organised than a straight line.
The player will find decoys, momentary stun attacks, alternate routes and silent speed granted to them, and throughout the examination of a scene and the execution of their well thought-out plan it’s easy to get lost in this world. Budget Cuts is cast iron proof that you don’t need to pursue photorealism in order to have an engaging, believable virtual reality (VR) experience.
Yoshida himself got caught up in this world, recently explaining how immersion in a virtual world can lead to unfortunate mistakes in the real one: “While playing Budget Cuts in Vive, which game is awesome, I fell to the floor when I leaned over the window from 2nd floor to downstairs. [sic]” Stated Yoshida in a recent tweet, furthering the revelation humorously with: “For a split second I thought I was gonna die.”
Yoshida was so deeply engaged in his tactical analysis of the challenge at hand that he seems to have forgotten that the images he was being presented with were not the reality outside of his own. This is the magic of VR, though potentially causing injury is a challenge we’ll all have to face at some point.