Silhouette to Launch Hand Tracking Puzzles on Quest in 2023
Silhouette is leveraging hand tracking for an interesting new puzzle game on Quest that uses shadow puppetry to generate a new form of environmental interaction.
The theme of hand tracking dominated discussions at this year’s Gamescom. A lot of talk at this year’s Gamescom revolved around how to implement hand tracking for more meaningful experiences beyond the novelty.
Sticking with the theme, Team Panoptic did a five-minute demo of Silhouette of an upcoming Meta Quest 2 release.
Team Panoptic is famous for its 2020 asymmetrical PC VR game named Panoptic. The developer’s new project is a hand tracking-exclusive puzzle game for Quest that bypasses hand-to-object interaction and focuses on using the image of a player’s hands to affect the environment around them. Rather than focusing on the physicality of the user’s hands in virtual reality, Silhouette makes the player use their hands to create shadows.
The central mechanic of the game is built around a shadow puppet concept. The player encounters 2D vignettes that are cast from the rays of large spotlights and a small shadow creature that is stuck in place on a side of the scene. Players soon realize that they can raise their hands in front of the spotlight and they are able to cast shadows on the illuminated area. After this, these shadows are transformed into a tool that assists the creature to move from one point to another.
The experience is a basic puzzle concept. There are already a number of non-VR games like this. However, this Silhouette version includes hand tracking functionality and offers something new and immersive.
Casting shadows enables the player to discover creative solutions to the puzzles like using one’s shadow to create bridges or to block streams of water. Later puzzles will enable players to shape their hands into a finger gun, to create a shadow of a weapon that can be shot to clear blockages and access new areas.
The approach in Silhouette does not have the frequent disconnect seen in other hand-tracking experiences in which the virtual interactions with the objects remind you of the absence of a physical object in your real hands. Instead, Team Panoptic uses your own hands to affect the environment in a very hands-off manner.
The shadow puzzles are part of a bigger overworld that includes four separate environments and a central hub. The experience features a total of 28 puzzles. According to Team Panoptic, these puzzles will take a player roughly 3 to 4 hours to finish.
A player doesn’t have to finish every puzzle to progress in the game. They accrue points from every solution that allows them to choose what they unlock next.
The demo at Gamescom only had one of these overworld environments and the puzzles were more interesting than the environment itself.
The game still has some of the ‘traditional’ hand tracking interactions such as levers that you can pull or the pinching of selections that you can make in the game. According to a UploadVR review, these still feel a little clunkier, especially when juxtaposed against the smooth shadow puppets concept.
The Silhouette’s main mechanic is very unique, however, and is the star attraction of the game. According to Team Panoptic, Silhouette has already been approved for a full Quest Store release with the launch expected in Q1 2023.
With several months to go before its official release, the team will likely polish and fine-tune the rough edges in the game.