Vanishing Realms is officially out of Early Access and with that update also comes the release of a big paid expansion that’s even larger than the original game in the form of The Sundered Rift. Indimo Labs has been hard at work on this new DLC and it shows.
In order to approach The Sundered Rift with the right frame of mind, I actually started the whole game from scratch. I dove in fresh from the very beginning and replayed the first two chapters of the original Vanishing Realms. I think that really improves the experience to play it straight through as one 6+ hour journey — the original is about 2-3 hours and The Sundered Rift can easily take upwards of 4 hours with its six different zones and multitude of new content.
To be clear though: this is not a sequel. Even though you have to pay for it separately you still need the base game to play it and it still functions off of the same core mechanics. Luckily, Vanishing Realms still feels innovative in a VR market overrun with non-VR game ports and half-baked experiences that often barely limp across the finish line of development. By comparison,. despite being over three-years old, Vanishing Realms is a competent, capable, and complete game.
Inventory management is a breeze with sockets at your waist that represent bags for things like consumable healing items, swords, bows, shields, and more. Switching things out is relegated to looking down and grabbing what you want rather than navigating a floating 2D menu. Combat is tiring and intense, especially once you’re deep into the game, requiring quick parries, adept blocking, and quickly swapping to the right tool for the job. Any melee combat you’ve seen in VR owes Vanishing Realms for laying the foundation and it still feels good even now.
The original Vanishing Realms is a bit more restricted in its scope. Many of the areas are indoors and it generally lacks a lot of breadth as you progress. The Sundered Rift on the other hand, as you can tell even just from the screenshots on the Steam page, has a lot of variety with several “open world-esque” levels that really evoke a sense of existing in a larger, more robust world.