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Review: Down the Rabbit Hole

Zenbane
Level 15
People often use the phrase, "I'm going down the rabbit hole," when they are about to jump in to a VR Session. However, what I will be discussing is the actual title, Down the Rabbit Hole, by Cortopia Studios.


I'm a big Alice in Wonderland fan myself. I'm pretty sure that the story and original cartoon are what sparked my love of the Puzzle/Adventure genre. I usually rant and rave about the Myst franchise, but my first exposure to the alluring madness of mystifying puzzles and warped adventures started with the classic tales like Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.

Throughout the years, there's been roughly 1 dozen games based on Alice in Wonderland:

For VR users, there's at least 2 other Alice-based VR games that I'm aware of:
The similarity in the title names certainly adds an interesting element of confusion when trying to talk about each one separately.

This specific title, by Cortopia Studios, is a lovely addition to both my VR and Alice library. I always enjoy when there is a "twisted" element to Alice and the world of Wonderland. To-date, my favorite Alice game of all time is, American McGee's Alice. Luckily, in this title by Cortopia, there is a nice undertone of twistedness and madness. For example, you can kill some bunnies! It's kinda hilarious when it happens. And you can navigate the story of Alice towards someone who is a bit more interested in aggression and power. Although it is more subtle and not fully fleshed out as having a major impact on the game.

What I love most about this title is that it takes place in a literal Rabbit Hole. For those familiar with the VR Title, Witchblood, you exist as a godlike observer where the map/world is cut in half like a stage.

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You'll find a similar experience in this new Alice title; where you, the Player, are an established entity in the game, helping the characters by interacting with objects.

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Unlike Witchblood, however, Alice stretches the map around you in a full 360 environment (you are inside an actual rabbit hole). And you get to travel up/down the rabbit hole as you progress through the story and solve different puzzles. I thought that this was incredibly clever, and an experience completely unique to VR.

Another game where you interact with objects to solve puzzles for the characters is, Along Together:

Although, in this Alice game, the number of times this is necessary is quite small; and it's nowhere near as difficult as the Along Together puzzles.

I was able to complete this Alice title in one sitting. It took approximately 4 hours total. The game is not overly complex. The hardest part is trying to be a completionist, if your goal is to find all the objects in the game. Although there is one exception where you control Alice and one of the Card Men through an environment that involves being in two places at once as they mirror each other: one place is right-side-up, the other is upside-down. It is a clever area and you gotta think in ways that are somewhat abnormal.

I did enjoy the moments where you get to leave the 3rd Person View from inside the Rabbit Hole, and take on the First Person perspective of Alice. It was a great experience to be immersed with these legendary characters.

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The last portion that is worth a callout is the brief "jump scare moment." During the area of the game where you are working with the Cheshire cat, the Rabbit Hole that you are standing in gets a very subtle addition that was not instantly apparent to me. Up until this point I had been entirely alone in the rabbit hole. All of a sudden I looked down as I was navigating, and BOOM! A slightly demonic version of Mr. Cheshire was in the damn hole with me, staring right at my face. I have to admit, I let out a very brief "WOAH WTF!" and stepped back. After which I felt stupid, since it really wasn't that scary, and you can just pet the kitty to make him purr a bit.

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I really enjoyed the ending scene; a lot of nostalgia here with an added dose of immersion. The game does end a bit abruptly, imo. But on the bright side, you get up to 3 different endings, which do NOT play out cinematically, but instead play out with different dialogue. I was hoping that there would be a secret ending; but I haven't heard of one yet!

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For any Alice in Wonderland fans, this is a title worth purchasing. For VR enthusiasts, experiencing the Rabbit Hole feature is unique and interesting enough to go through at least once. Keep in mind that this is not a AAA Title. There are no bugs in the game that I could see, but there's certainly room for improvement. Don't go looking to be blown away, but if you're looking for something that takes advantage of VR and implements a unique method for navigation and controls, then this is certainly wordy of consideration.

7 REPLIES 7

TomCgcmfc
Level 15
DTRH just became available for me for free with my VivePort Infinity subscription last week and I’ve been loving it.  Definitely a big VR improvement to Witchblood (which still pretty good).

I’ve played it with my Vive Pro, Rift cv1, and Quest wireless with Virtual Desktop and it plays well on all of these.  The graphics look best on my Vive Pro but  thanks to touch controllers and 2xss my Rift cv1 is my favorite way to play this.

Overall a very fun platform puzzler.  Thanks for your review Zen.  Cheers.
9 9900k, rtx3090, 32 Gb ram, 1tb ssd, 4tb hdd. xi hero wifi mb, 750w psu, Q2 w/Air Link, Vive Pro

RuneSR2
Level 15
Great review - admitted I may be too focused on textures and polys, and this may be one of the nicest Quest ports available, where most of the original Quest graphics are retained (Rift version is 2.25GB, Quest is 1.24GB, so something must have changed). 

Maybe I made everything worse by using the Index for this game, where you easily can see every flaw, missing or low-res textures. Like Tom wrote, oled hmds with some SDE may be a great help in this game. Also some dude said it looked like Moss, so my expectations were very high, but this game is not similar to Moss when focusing on texture quality and poly count (where Moss originally was made for PSVR). I ended up refunding the Steam version, even though the game worked perfectly using Index res 200% in solid 90 fps. 

If fact Zenbane's great review - and Tom's post - just convinced me that I need to try this game using the CV1 ss 2.0! Thanks! (And then the kids can try it too  o:)

Btw, it's on sale right now:

https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/2436356466482809/?locale=en_US

EDIT: Second time's a charm - I hope  o:)

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PS, Checking the Quest Store I can see that if I bought a Quest, I'd have so many free available games due to cross-buy that I may not need to buy anything for a long time, lol. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

RuneSR2
Level 15
Been having surprisingly much fun with the game this evening - I was thinking it could be kinda a longshot trying the game again, but it really looks night and day better with the CV1 ss 2.0. Sure you can still see low-res textures, no shadows on in-game characters and low poly objects, but it's a lot less noticeable. Textures look a lot more high-res due to the SDE. It really looks a lot more like Moss, while you get the complete opposite effect using the Index.

The sound, especially the music, is really great using CV1. 

Actually Witchblood is similar and looks much better using CV1, while Index reveals all shortcomings.

I would not mind rating Down the Rabbit Hole 5/5 using CV1, also due to the great story and especially the original game play, but I was really down to 2-3 out of 5 using Index due to the graphics. I wonder if Rift-S is much like Index...

This game, like Phantom: Covert Ops and many more games, illustrates the great importance of using an optimal hmd for specific games. I believe this game originally was designed for an oled hmd with some SDE, namely the Quest.

Btw, I used CV1 ss 2.0 and didn't experience any dips below 90 fps. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

Zenbane
Level 15
Awesome, Rune! I'm really surprised at the differences between the various HMD's when it comes to each software. They are all so unique!

TomCgcmfc
Level 15
Thanks to Rune telling me it was on sale even though I already had this in my VivePort sub I decided to buy it from the Oculus Store to see if there was much difference.  Also, I thought it would be good to be able to pop it in my Quest as a standalone for more mobile VR gaming.

First of all, I cannot say I noticed any diffs with my Rift cv1 on either version.  Both looked pretty good.  TBH I'm sure if I had Index controllers (still not available in Australia) my Vive Pro would win hands down.  The oled graphics with my Etsy Gear VR lens mod is soooo good!

Secondly, the Quest standalone version was surprisingly very good.  The graphics were not quite as good as my Rift cv1 w/2x SS but still very enjoyable/playable.

Lastly, big surprise!  When I tried my Quest wireless with Virtual Desktop the graphics actually looked better than my Rift cv1.  I have no idea why?  I believe VD pegs the Quest SS to 1.5 so maybe together with the Quest's higher oled res it's produced a better result.  Who knows?  I also found that the Oculus Store version worked a lot more lag-free with wireless VD compared to my VivePort (essentially Steam) version.  Ever bit as good as with my Rift cv1.

I will say that the first time I tried DTRH from the Oculus store with VD wireless I got an error message that said I did not have program rights, but when I exited it and restarted it it worked fine, and has continued to do so.

While you need a good internet/wifi setup for VD wireless, it's a nice fun experiment to try imho.  In my case I have my router wired to my PC and my router is only one thin wall away in my TV room.  So I'm able to play quite a few nice PCVR titles like this one and Google Earth VR (not all are compatible btw) sitting in my comfy LazyBoy recliner.  With the exception of DTRH all Oculus Store games look better and play better (less lag) with my Rift cv1 w/2x SS but all these (that are compatible) still look much nicer (and generally play as well) with my Quest wireless w/VD compared to Quest standalone.  

I might add that None of the Oculus or Steam store games look and play as well with Oculus Link compared to my Rift cv1.
9 9900k, rtx3090, 32 Gb ram, 1tb ssd, 4tb hdd. xi hero wifi mb, 750w psu, Q2 w/Air Link, Vive Pro

RuneSR2
Level 15

TomCgcmfc said:

Thanks to Rune telling me it was on sale even though I already had this in my VivePort sub I decided to buy it from the Oculus Store to see if there was much difference.  Also, I thought it would be good to be able to pop it in my Quest as a standalone for more mobile VR gaming.

First of all, I cannot say I noticed any diffs with my Rift cv1 on either version.  Both looked pretty good.  TBH I'm sure if I had Index controllers (still not available in Australia) my Vive Pro would win hands down.  The oled graphics with my Etsy Gear VR lens mod is soooo good!

Secondly, the Quest standalone version was surprisingly very good.  The graphics were not quite as good as my Rift cv1 w/2x SS but still very enjoyable/playable.

Lastly, big surprise!  When I tried my Quest wireless with Virtual Desktop the graphics actually looked better than my Rift cv1.  I have no idea why?  I believe VD pegs the Quest SS to 1.5 so maybe together with the Quest's higher oled res it's produced a better result.  Who knows?  I also found that the Oculus Store version worked a lot more lag-free with wireless VD compared to my VivePort (essentially Steam) version.  Ever bit as good as with my Rift cv1.

I will say that the first time I tried DTRH from the Oculus store with VD wireless I got an error message that said I did not have program rights, but when I exited it and restarted it it worked fine, and has continued to do so.

While you need a good internet/wifi setup for VD wireless, it's a nice fun experiment to try imho.  In my case I have my router wired to my PC and my router is only one thin wall away in my TV room.  So I'm able to play quite a few nice PCVR titles like this one and Google Earth VR (not all are compatible btw) sitting in my comfy LazyBoy recliner.  With the exception of DTRH all Oculus Store games look better and play better (less lag) with my Rift cv1 w/2x SS but all these (that are compatible) still look much nicer (and generally play as well) with my Quest wireless w/VD compared to Quest standalone.  

I might add that None of the Oculus or Steam store games look and play as well with Oculus Link compared to my Rift cv1.



Awesome comparisons, Tom. Btw, did you see any specific differences between the standalone Quest version and the PCVR version? I'm seeing some round shapes, like the glasses on the first rabbit you meet (can't remember his name) which could be more round using PCVR... Just wondering what changes the additional 1GB game size means for the PCVR version - usually that could be some slightly enhanced textures, but most textures (apart from images on the cards) look very low-res to me - but fine when you're zoomed out especially thanks to the SDE.

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

TomCgcmfc
Level 15
The Quest standalone version is not as sharp as any of the pcvr versions.  So yes, the bunny glasses do not look as sharp with the Quest version.  No big deal though because overall it's very playable with any version imho.
9 9900k, rtx3090, 32 Gb ram, 1tb ssd, 4tb hdd. xi hero wifi mb, 750w psu, Q2 w/Air Link, Vive Pro