Stress Level Zero’s latest mind-bending action game is an absolute must-play.
After long last, Bonelab is now available on Meta Quest 2 and PC VR headsets. The latest VR game from developer Stress Level Zero (Boneworks, Duck Season), the experimental action experience takes you on a physics-driven adventure through an eclectic mix of environments filled with enemies to fight, secrets to unlock, and challenges to complete.
Similar to Boneworks, Bonelab features a satisfying blend of first-person combat (both ranged and melee) and platforming. The game builds upon Stress Level Zero’s ‘Marrow1’ VR physics foundation, offering a fine-tuned experience that you just won’t find in other games. We were lucky enough to go hands-on with the game ahead of its release and suffice to say, Bonelab is a must-play for any Quest 2 player.
Those who’ve played Boneworks will feel right at home in Bonelab. Just like its predecessor, the game features a relatively light story, leaving most of your questions regarding MythOS unanswered. That said, you will find bits of information scattered throughout various levels, usually in the form of a clipboard. For the most part, however, the game leaves you up to your own devices.
“Sentenced to death, you embody an outcast escaping fate,” reads the official description. “Discovering a pathway to a hidden underground research facility. A series of challenging experiments and discoveries await. A road to the truth calls from the void.”
The first initial levels are designed to acclimate you to the game. You’ll navigate a handful of obstacles, battle a small group of enemies, and learn a few other basic concepts needed in order to face the challenges ahead. Most of this involves jumping and climbing, which can take some getting used to, especially if you’ve never played Boneworks. The physics system, while impressive, isn’t perfect. You will inevitably find your arms twisted in a gruesome knot at some. That said, it’s incredible what Stress Level Zero was able to achieve using Quest 2 hardware.
After completing the introductory portion of the game you’ll be granted access to the main Lab environment. Here you’ll be free to experiment with a handful of different minigames and game modes, each offering its own unique challenges to complete.
The Arena, for example, offers a generous selection of intense combat scenarios. Some challenges require you to complete specific objectives, while others simply task you with staying alive. My personal favorite is a wave-based challenge that spawns a random weapon at the start of each round. This could be anything from an ancient Viking axe to a military-issue M4. Experimentation is the heart and soul of Bonelab, so don’t be afraid to mix it up with new weapons and tactics.
Then there’s Parkour, which features a variety of platforming challenges that require you to use your full body. One challenge has you navigating a labyrinth-like environment in search of keys as quickly as possible. You’ll need to run, jump, grab, and climb obstacles in order to collect each and every item, taking full advantage of the incredible Marrow1’ VR physics foundation in the process.
Other activities include Mods and Experimental, but I won’t spoil all the fun for you here. Just like the hidden collectibles scattered throughout each level, you’ll need to explore the game yourself to discover all the fun. And believe me when I say there’s plenty to discover.
After visiting a set number of locations you’ll unlock the next part of the story. Once you’ve finished the full campaign you’ll be granted access to every level, at which point the game pretty much becomes a sandbox experience. You can then acquire the post-game spawn gun (located in sandbox levels) and begin spawning unlockable objects to your heart’s content. These objects can be found scattered throughout levels in the form of semi-transparent orbs. Simply pick up the object using both your hands and pull.
The Customization & Mods
Speaking of unlockables, Bonelab features a new avatar system that allows you to switch between different characters in real time. Each avatar features their own strengths and weaknesses, such as speed and strength. You’ll unlock these special characters by exploring the game. You can cycle between avatars in real time using your wrist tool in order to complete specific challenges. Of course, you’re more than welcome to goof around in the Lab.
You can also upload your own custom avatars in the in-game mod tool. Bonelab will automatically assign stats to each avatar based on their respective silhouettes. How well this technology works remains to be seen, but I love the concept itself. According to Bonelab developer Brandon Laatsch, the team will continue working on support for custom items as well as drivable vehicles.
Bonelab is in a league all its own. Stress Level Zero’s Marrow1 VR physics foundation offers an unparalleled experience unlike anything I’ve seen on the Meta Quest 2. From the physics-driven combat and full-body locomotion to the unique customization options and support for VR mods, Bonelab is one of the best VR games we’ve played on Quest 2 to date.
Bonelab is now available for $39.99 on Meta Quest 2 and PC VR headsets. Those interested can also pick up the official soundtrack for $9.99 via Steam. For more information on Bonelab visit stresslevelzero.com.
Image Credit: Stress Level Zero