When I heard Rick and Morty were coming to VR, I got pretty excited. That actually doesn’t quite cut it. I had discovered the Rick and Morty series a few months before the game announcement, and had quickly devoured every episode. How I had passed on it for so long, somehow ignoring the fact that it was co-created by Dan Harmon (Community), is now kind of a mystery to me. If you’re also in this boat, just start watching already!
I’m also a big fan of virtual reality, having decided to pick up a Vive after my experience at PAX West 2015. One of the Vive’s launch titles was Job Simulator, a game set in a future where today’s culture is mostly forgotten and vastly misunderstood. At a museum run by robots, visitors can experience a highly distorted take on what it was like to be human in our time. The game is a signature introduction to VR: highly interactive, creative, and exceptionally funny. I use it to indoctrinate every new user when I demo the Vive.
Anyway, the point is this: the same team who made Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs) is making Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality. I made it my mission to check out the demo at PAX West.
As I waited for the previous group to finish their showing, I had the opportunity to chat with Owlchemy Labs’ Cy Wise. If you check out her business card, you’ll see that one of her titles is “Owlmancer,” which is apparently shorthand for “someone involved in all aspects of a project,” and she was able to fill me in on the genesis of RaMS:VR. For those not already in the know, Justin Roiland (who voices both Rick and Morty) is a huge fan of VR, having now founded his own VR studio, Squanchtendo. Wise told me that he was so impressed by Job Simulator that Owlchemy CEO, Alex Schwartz, wound up meeting Roiland to have a few drinks and talk about VR.
As the evening went on, both Schwartz and Roiland circled in on the same thought: what if Job Simulator was in Rick’s garage? Schwartz was working up to suggesting the idea, but Roiland beat him to it. A week later they pitched the idea to Adult Swim and it was a done deal.
It was my turn for a demo. I put on the Vive and was instantly transported to Rick’s garage. I was having so much fun that much of what happened is a blur. I found out I was a Morty clone. I got killed but returned from Hades after some kind of clerical error. Rick warned me not to touch his stuff, and then he and Morty disappeared into a portal. I immediately grabbed the plumbus (Rick and Morty’s spoof on How It’s Made) and checked out the garage. Movement was teleportation-based, so I could get around further than my walking area. The art was perfect. The sound effects were spot-on. The voices were Roiland’s. I was definitely in Rick and Morty.
Then Rick and Morty came back to ask for my help. Wise told me that Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality will be more “puzzle-y” than Job Simulator. Whereas the latter had a whiteboard that told you what to do next, Owlchemy plans to leave a lot more opportunity for discovery in RaMS:VR. In this case, I was only required to pull a lever in the garage to help out, but Wise told me that in the full game players will be travelling by portal to other locations, sharing adventures, solving puzzles, and generally hanging out with Rick and Morty.
When I exited the game, I was still laughing. It felt like they’ve nailed it, and there’s good reason for that. The writing is being done in-house at Owlchemy Labs, and they have already established themselves as pretty hilarious. On top of that, the team sends out builds on a regular basis to Roiland, Harmon, and Adult Swim, getting feedback to incorporate in the game. Wise even hinted that they “group cuddle” occasionally, but I’m certain that she was just kidding.
As my time was wrapping up, we were discussing some of the Rick and Morty lore I was hoping would make it into the game. What do I want to see the most? Mr. Meeseeks! Would he be in the game?
Wise smiled. “He might be in there,” she said.