Fast Travel Games, the studio behind bowshooting adventure Apex Construct (2018), showed off their upcoming title The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets at Gamescom this year. Getting a chance to pop in for a single level, the admittedly short game offers up casual diorama-based puzzles and a heartwarming story cast in the golden hue of a childhood memories past.
A floating island pops into existence before me. My wizened granddad is recalling our time at his summer house, where my sister and I used to spend the days going on adventures and inevitably fighting amongst ourselves.
Using the Oculus Touch controller, I lean forward to spin the island around, a bright and self-contained miniature world where my dear old gran’s tiny house resides. Grabbing hold of the island and turning it reveals a number of curious items such as a locked chest, multiple tiny doors, and plenty of interactive stuff such as a kettle, teacup, and a burning flame. Practically everything is interactive, making the little island seem alive and oozing with that warm, fuzzy feeling.
The object of each stage is to find all of the pets, which is done by completing some of the light puzzles, like setting the kettle to boil over the flame to make a cup of tea using the leaves brushed from a tree overhead, revealing a tiny submarine in the cup which holds a bulbous little kitty inside. Rummaging around for pets can be as simple as looking in the bush near a dog’s bowl, or going through those slightly more elaborate steps to unlock a chest where a cheeky bunny is hiding, the very same rascal my granddad says ate the carrots in the neighbor’s garden.
A few curious little characters pop around too, animated at a lower, claymation-style frame rate. Although I didn’t need much help solving the puzzles, a curious little guy would pop in and out of doors and draw my attention to an overlooked piece of the puzzle.
It only took me a few minutes to complete the stage (a total of five will come at launch) and also find all five hidden coins, which are highlighted by a small sparkling aura. The only real objective though is to find the pets, as the coins are no doubt put there to get the user to focus more clearly on the game’s super detailed environments.
Talking to the game’s creative lead James Hunt, I was told The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets isn’t explicitly for kids despite it’s clear family-friendly appeal. “It’s an everyone game,” Hunt explains, saying that it was designed especially for new VR users of all ages. And while it’s definitely on the casual end of the puzzle spectrum, the well-built little game promises to offer enough variety to keep you playing for what is shaping up to be a single-sitting playsession that should easily wrap up in under an hour.
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets is set to launch in 2019 on a gang of headsets, including Quest, Rift, PSVR, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Windows VR headsets. Check out the game’s trailer below: