[PREVIEW] Tentacular – A different kind of Squid Game

How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?[…]Ten-tickles. Get it? Tentacles? And yes, I know an octopus only has eight, but two of ’em are test-tickles. Get it? Testicles? If you’re of the opinion that this squid-themed dad joke was dumber than Hellen Keller, you can “squid” reading altogether, because Tentacular doesn’t make more sense than all of the above. But if you’re curious to test your fine motor skills with two giant tentacles for hands, you might want to get your suckers ready.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from Tentacular, it’s the fact that being a teenager is hard. Especially if you’re a little different and the entire town hates you for it. See, that’s where you – a squid-like monstrosity – enter the stage in this VR game made by Firepunchd Games. The residents of La Kalma aren’t really that happy with your presence, even though you try to be a role model citizen. Why? Idunno. Maybe because you’re a goddamn tentacled beast and an unintentional pain in the ass. Or should I say, “unintentically”?

Anywho, you’re there and you’re a part of La Kalma’s society like any other. So you might as well make the best of it and fit in. By getting a job, for instance. And what’s a tentacled individual like you to do other than use your strength? Precisely. A job as a constructor and heavy shit hauler fits you nicely. It’s time to punch in and earn some overdue respect. If only life was that simple for a squid. But life never is. Not with two tentacles for hands, and especially not after stumbling upon alien tech, attracting all kinds of peculiar “contractors”. So, let’s get kraken. Get it? Crackin’?

After having some personal tentacles-on experience with Tentacular, there are two things I can say about it. One, it’s dumb as shit. Two, it can be fun if you have the patience for it. In case all of the above didn’t give it away yet, Tentacular can be described as a building sim-like VR game in which you occasionally have to save the day. As a giant squid, you’re tasked with constructing all kinds of contraptions, using everything that La Kalma’s shoreline has to offer. Steel bars, storage tanks, shipping containers… Hell, you can even throw in a bus or two. If it fits, it sits.

Now, all of that is hard enough as it is when you have human hands. Nice dexterous, nimble, five-fingered hands. But when you have to fulfill some high-precision construction work with two massive sucker-covered tentacles, things can get messy. Thankfully, Tentacular does a great job of making it as easy as it can possibly be. Pull a trigger to apply suction on an object and release it to let go. Simple. Squeezy peazy. Just don’t get too comfortable, because Tentacular also knows how to throw in some additional mechanics that make your monster life harder again.

Mechanics like magnetism, giving you options to build some steel constructions without making them too permanent. Constructions like makeshift slingshots, made out of powerlines that are just laying around anyway. Or what about some heavy-duty scaffolding to place a ship hundreds of feet above sea level, because everyone needs some of those. And when you feel like you got the construction thing under control, try building steel defense walls out of scrap. You know, in case of incoming cannon fire. And if that doesn’t help, try throwing rockets instead. I mean, I dunno. Why else would an Elon Musk-like guy give you access to those?

And if you’re wondering “where is this heading, man?”, I know. It doesn’t make a whole lotta sense. But neither does Tentacular. And that’s what makes it weirdly satisfying for some reason. It’s just VR stupidity. But it’s also VR stupidity that you can grow weary of. With certain tasks demanding precision, having tentacles for hands can become daunting and tiresome. Especially when you’ve been super meticulous for ten minutes straight and then unintentionally wreck your precious project whilst turning, forgetting about that other tentacle you’re wielding. It might be fun for bystanders to watch you struggle in VR, but it can also cause you to step out of your tight virtual space.

Then again, you might be the persevering type and stick with it, like a suction cup on a bald La Kalma resident’s noggin. And if you’re the kind of person who gets a big, throbbin’ tentacle when construction/destruction jobs are there for the taking, Tentacular might be your cup of Joe. I mean, for a preview version of the game, it sure sucked me in for a couple of hours. If only they would add free movement instead of angled turns, that would make things a lot easier (for me). But hey, who knows? Firepunchd Games could be busy building that. Anyway, Tentacular, trust me when I say there’s nothing like it. Or should I say “there’s nothing i-tentacle.” Get it? Identical?… I’ll let myself out.

Tentacular is scheduled for a launch this spring on Meta Quest 2 and SteamVR.