Owners of HTC's Vivevirtual reality system have been hard-pressed to find any games that make legitimate use of their new hardware. Following a disastrous consumer roll-out marred by numerous embarrassing glitches and technical catastrophes, the partnership of Valve and HTC couldn't even come up with a street-ready version of the platform'sSteam VRsystem. Thus, for most Vive owners, it has already been a long, hard summer.

Big ideas, but no games

The genius of the Vive has been its unique design, which allows for a full range of motion that tracks and renders the movements of the player's body via advanced telemetry, opening the door for incredibly immersive, and interactive virtual experiences.

This is mainly facilitated through its sophisticated, dual-stick controller setup, which (for all intents and purposes) renders every nuance of the player's “hands” within the game.

Any hardcore gamer or gadget-minded technology-addict that's tasted a demo of the Vive's “Room-Scale-VR” experience will tell you: the platform offers something that is almost categorically beyond the Oculus Rift (the Vive's main competitor for the home VR market). Unfortunately, all of that high-concept innovation has come with a brutal price tag: months after its official release, only a handful of games (many only in beta versions) have been available for the Vive.That is, of course, until now.

First polished title shines

The Solus Project($19.99, Teotl Studios, Steam/Windows) hit the interwebs screamingthis Tuesday, bringing what is arguably the first legitimate taste of what the Vive is capable of. While far from the world's most perfect game, that does little to diminish the totally mesmerizing experience that it offers.

The premise of the game is simple: in the distant future, the last of the human race attempts to find habitable planets in the far reaches of space. One of these deep-space vessels experiences profound technical difficulties, resulting in its catastrophic, sub-orbital destruction, flinging the player to the surface of a strange, hostile planet in the tin can of a screaming escape pod.

Our hero regains consciousness finding himself a castaway on a strange and inhospitable planet, with his multi-functional datapad (think “Tricorder”) as his only companion.

Thus, players begin their adventure in this first-person, 21st-Century, VR reboot of the inventory-based Adventure Game genre. With the Vive's dual controller's representing your hands, you explore the wreckage of your crash site and the planet beyond, almost entirely unimpeded by the feeling that you are being forced towards any adventure other than your own.

Surviving isn't virtual

What makes the game sing is the simple fact that you (as your character) must face and solve the basic problems of pure, elemental surviva, and must do so with what feels like your own hands.

You'll have to find water, scavenge for food, search for warmth and shelter, craft improvised tools from salvaged detritus, and struggle to meet your basic physical needs. Persistent, non-scripted environmental challenges including hypothermia, starvation, sleep deprivation, and violent atmospheric events make every moment of the experience feel as if they are entirely your own, and are actuallysurviving by your wits and ingenuity alone.

An imperfect milestone

While it is indubitable that later generations of games made for Vive's immersive VR hardware will surpass The Solus Projectin their graphics and sophistry of design, right now, owners of the Vive can (and should) simply breathe deeply in the historical milestone that is 'The Solus Project:' a turning point in gaming history, whispering of what is yet to come.