Quest hand tracking still sucks but at least Silhouette makes good use of it
Cast a shadow to help guide the Shadowies to their goal.
Imagine for a moment that you were holding up a flashlight with one hand, using it to cast shadows on the wall with the other. Suddenly, little creatures begin crawling on your shadow in an effort to get to the other end of the wall. That's the sort of premise you can look forward to if you play Silhouette, a game that attempts to utilize the Quest's underbaked hand-tracking features to their fullest extent.
Unfortunately for Silhouette, hand tracking is not the most fun technology to use on the Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab). As you might know, if you played other great hand-tracking games (opens in new tab) request itself has a really hard time keeping track of your hands and all the different ways you have to use them while playing a game. It's particularly a shame in this case because the game really is incredibly lovely underneath all that frustration.
In Silhouette, players cast shadows using only their hands in an attempt to guide little creatures — known as Shadowies — to an end goal. There's no controller support here at all, so the setup is quite effortless.
You'll roam around a beautifully-styled world inspired by games like Rime, Patapon, The First Tree, and others, looking for puzzles to solve that will unlock the next area.
The game is just $10 on Quest and is priced super reasonably, especially since it'll take you at least a few hours to solve all 28 unique puzzles.
While most hand-tracking games have you trying to use your hands the same way you would a controller — an exercise that usually ends up in frustration — developer Team Panoptes flipped the script. Instead of trying to grab things with your individual fingers, most puzzles rely on you using your entire hand to get the job done.
That part is critical to reducing frustration with hand tracking since the cameras on the Quest have a hard time actually seeing your fingers when they're in the prime grabbing position.
Shadows cast with your hands become platforms for these little shadow characters to stand on. Once they're aboard, you can move your hands around to guide them to different parts of the puzzle. You'll even use your shadow to lift up shadow obstacles or make a finger gun to eliminate obstacles in the Shadowies' way.
I also absolutely love the theme and the concept put forward here. Casting shadows with hands is such a basic human behavior that's probably been done since the earliest times of our species. Even the youngest children use shadow puppets to tell stories, especially when a flashlight and a dark room are involved.
Silhouette taps into the simplicity of making anything you want out of shadows including being able to step closer or further away from the in-game light source to change the size of the shadow. It's incredibly clever and, when it works, is one of those things that feels like it's only possible in VR.
Later on, you'll use your hand to interact with water, including diverting the direction of the water by using the back or palm of your hand to change its flow.
Many puzzles don't require too much thought — a lot of the game revolves around the use of a unique mechanic rather than getting you to think too hard — which makes this semi-relaxing in the way that Cubism can be. If it weren't for the occasional glitching from the Quest's hand-tracking system, this would be pure bliss. Maybe in a future headset when there's a dedicated depth sensor or something similar.
If you're a puzzle fan, I can wholeheartedly recommend Silhouette for its excellent design. While hand tracking is annoying as heck sometimes, I enjoyed finding out what puzzle was next and figuring out how to solve it.
While it's not nearly as frustration-free as we were initially hoping, Silhouette is a charming puzzler with a unique mechanic. Just make sure to have lots of patience because hand tracking is a very finicky technology.
Get it at Quest Store (opens in new tab)
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