THE UTILITY ROOM - Press Release
“Sincerely an engaging and utterly unique experience, the developer should be proud” - Jacob Geller
“Original, aesthetic, single developer, good sounds, and graphics. I never thought I'd have nightmares about rocks.” - Steam Review
“Like being caught in a perpetual benadril fever dream.” - Steam Review
“The Utility Room is by far the most interesting experience I've ever had in VR. It's completely out of the ordinary, like being in the contents of someone's mind. The imagery is mind-blowing, a mix of Salvador Dali, David Lynch, Yves Tanguy and Stanley Kubrick. It's uncanny, creepy and accompanied by one of the best soundtracks in a VR game I have heard to date. This is not for your ordinary gamer. There's no shooting and it doesn't hold your hand. You have to make it to the end yourself and then it gets completely brain-melting. This is what the future of VR looks like.” - Steam Review
The Utility Room
The Utility Room is a surreal/experimental PCVR journey across the 'behind the scenes' of the Universe - a world inhabited by megalithic rocky heads, some several miles high. It features minor gameplay elements, environmental storytelling and is around 1hr30 hrs long. It is frightening and tense, but not like a traditional horror game. It is available to purchase on STEAM for £10.79.
An indie title developed in Unreal Engine 5 by Lionel Marsden (KingLumps) - It aims to bring something unorthodox to the VR space by allowing people to explore a strange 'other'.
I believe VR aligns more closely with film, theatre, installation and even sculpture than with videogames, but what is unique about VR is it replicates immediate experience - the player is implicated in the experience more directly. I conciously reject the escapist fantasy of VR or a metaverse. Why put people in a 'virtual reality', one that is already familiar, when you can send them to a strange, separate reality? One that is more psychological that might inform their reality than provide an escape from it.
The Utility Room is not inspired by anything. It is not a pastiche. It is not set in a cyberpunk-Esque city 150 years in the future. There's no shooting or flashing lights or gumball machine gameplay. It is a place that no one has ever seen or visited and it is a place where you do not belong.
Fans of experimental or atmospheric horror games, Journey and the Kid A Mnesiac: Exhibition might appreciate the experience that The Utility Room offers.
The player is only told a few lines before entering the world. The rest they must piece together.
"At the edge of the Universe lies The Utility Room. The 'Behind the Scenes' where all the heavy lifting takes place. There have been no work incidents in 13.8 Billion years. You are arriving as a tourist. Don't do anything foolish."
The Utility Room is barren and rocky. The scale is immense, and in VR it feels like it. Upon arriving at the entrance to the Room, the player causes an accident, leading to them getting trapped inside. The aim is to make it out alive.
The Utility Room is a surreal and unsettling place. Players will find many areas tense and scary. It does not scare in the same way a horror game would. A pervading sense of megalophobia and fear of the unknown runs through the game. The player is trespassing. The world is a lot bigger than they are. The environments are peculiar and unnatural. Organic yet made entirely out of stone. The room is alive and hollow. Ancient and awake.
The cosmic caretaker aka 'Bin Man' is known to be the one who oversees the room. It is rumoured that he was personally employed some time around The Big Bang to manage the maintance and heavy lifting thats required to keep existence stable and temporal.
The player meets ‘Bin Man’ late, ending the journey with a sequence of experimental VR environments akin to a videoart piece that serves to reprimand the player for trespassing in the world
Whilst I refer to The Utility Room as a game, it is not gameplay heavy. It is primarily conceptual. There are two forms of jumping in-game. A traditional 'jump' and 'Leap'. Some gaps can be jumped normally, larger gaps will require you to leap.
Leaping is unique in The Utility Room. When the grip on both controllers is squeezed they begin to vibrate faster and faster. The faster the vibrations, the bigger the jump when the player swings their arms. By giving the player less mobility than in traditional games and disarming the player they become more vulnurable in the world. If they miscalulate a jump they will suffer the consequences. Fans of games like Boneworks or Bonelab might find this version of jumping cumbersome.
Players can both teleport and move using smooth locomotion. This is because some areas are too precarious for smooth locomotion meaning players will have to use both.
Climbing is also optional in the game but is not a major gameplay element.
In the world are collectables. 8 in total representing the different giant rocky heads that each have different jobs within the Room. Information can be learnt about them in the HEAD LOG once they are collected.
The game also features a scenic sculpture park based on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park that can be explored in a 90's era BMW convertable as a reward for finishing the game.
Note: The game performs best using Oculus OpenXR. Streaming/recording is best on quality setting: HIGH.
High Tier graphics cards should be fine with ULTRA. Crashes have been observed when using the SteamVR Beta and Index headsets. This is likely a DX12/OpenXR/SteamVR compatibility issue.
Here are some pictures from inside The Utility Room:
BELOW ARE SPOILERS FROM THE END OF THE GAME.
Developed by KingLumps (Lionel Marsden)
Music by Nicky Vella
Sound design by Sam Riley (did sound on the previous 360 film version of The Utility Room from 2019).
FilmsMy recent short films including a 1 minute film, a 6 minute film, a 360 degree film and a music video.
A music video collaboration between myself and Nicky Vella. Features a subterrainian marine landscape that changes form with the track.
An experimental film about a floating face that experiences a trauma.
THE UTILITY ROOM (2019) (OLD)
A Virtual reality experience that takes you edge of the universe and through a door to the 'behind the scenes' where the heavy lifting takes place.
A one minute film set in a utopian future featuring a man reduced to a nose thanks to the marvels of medical science.
My strange heads. Most feature in my films as main characters.
Short Films 2015 - 2017