A good story can make you feel something magical. Achieving this through movies and books is quite challenging, but is even tougher to pull off in VR. A developer needs a good story, of course, but he or she must also consider audio, visuals, and overall presentation.
With those considerations in mind, here are some of the best story-driven apps you can experience on Vive, all of which create a magical experience in VR.
Developer: Google Spotlight Stories
If you’re a Wallace and Gromit fan in search of a VR experience that is sure to bring you a hearty chuckle, Special Delivery is a must. Equipped with only a flashlight and a good ear for sound, our suspicious protagonist spends his Christmas Eve trying to find Santa. You won’t know who to root for, but the plot will keep you guessing at what happens next. I won’t spoil the ending, but this adorable app will give you a good laugh.
Special Delivery is a 360 movie with beautiful animation and a clever plot set to a lively soundtrack. It’s not exactly a full-fledged VR experience, but I still enjoyed following the characters around as the story unraveled.
Developer: Penrose Studios
In Allumette, you’re an invisible witness to a moving tale of dreams, love, and tragedy, set within a city nestled in the clouds, where a young girl and her mother sell matches that resemble sparklers. Everything goes well at first, but a tragic event completely changes the story’s tone. However, despite the melancholy vibe, it’s still a heartwarming experience.
Allumette’s interactive story encourages you to explore. At the beginning of the experience, as I stood admiring puffy white clouds, I heard the sound of what turned out to be an adorable flying ship. As it approached, I saw a little girl perched on top and couldn’t help but wonder what she was up to. Suddenly, she disappeared into the ship, and instinctively, I leaned forward to peek inside. To my surprise, the story continued inside of the boat! Allumette hooked me from that point forward, and after several viewings, it is without question one of the best apps on Viveport.
Developer: Google Spotlight Stories
Pearl is another 360 interactive story that follows a little girl (named Pearl) and her father as they both pursue their dreams. While short, it’s a remarkably powerful and inspiring tale. You’ll watch as Pearl grows on the road with her musician dad, starting off as a bubbly little child. Soon, she transforms into a teenager with a mind of her own and a love of making music.
It’s a story that will pull at the heartstrings, especially when you see the distance between them start to take hold. I couldn’t help but feel for her dad, who began to worry as Pearl showed the same taste for adventure that he had. I also understood what Pearl was going through, as she decided to embark on a journey to find herself.
Pearl is an Oscar-nominated story you have to experience in VR in order to witness its full potential. You explore the world using 360-degree views, and you’re sure to notice things that you missed the first and second time through.
A Chair in a Room: Greenwater
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive
A Chair in a Room earned a spot in my Best of the Best: VR games article because it does story-telling so well. Featuring a prickly atmosphere that leaves you in a perpetual state of paranoia, and dark themes that will leave you feeling a bit crazy, you’ll definitely want to immerse yourself in everything this app has to offer.
As the story begins, you’ll quickly realize that you’re a patient locked up in a mental institution. Unfortunately for you, your personal demons are a constant, literal threat to your wellbeing. You’ll explore a series of rooms as you try to put together clues, in an attempt to figure out how you managed to get locked up in the first place.
What separates A Chair in a Room from your standard atmospheric horror games is the integration of VR. When I’m plugged into that headset, moving forward or opening a door requires more courage than I’ve ever needed to push a button on a controller. There were moments when I was challenged to physically interact with the world around me while immobilized with fear. Overall, it’s a great example of virtual reality horror, and a good indication of where the genre is headed.
Developer: Virtual Light VR
Airborne 1944 takes you via time machine to June 6, 1944. On this day, more commonly known as D-Day, 1200 planes took off in the night to launch the Allied invasion of Normandy and what many call the beginning of the end of World War II. This virtual story allows viewers to relive a significant moment in history through the eyes, ears, and inner dialogue of a soldier heading straight to war.
I remember looking at my comrades as we sat in the darkness of a roaring plane and feeling a pang of anxiety hit me in the stomach. The guy next to me spoke loudly in my direction, “Hey, Jackson!” and pointed at a family photo I clutched tightly in my hand. He pulled out a picture of his own, and my heart fluttered once again at the thought of what was about to happen. It wasn’t long before we heard the whistle and boom of explosions outside as we all lined up to jump from the plane.
Although combat is one of the fundamental aspects of military simulations, Airborne 1944 focuses on emotion, and this is what makes it both compelling and terrifying. Arguably, there are plenty of experiences like this in games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, but virtual reality adds a new dimension to the characters, places, and events unfolding around you. The vivid sounds of war, lifelike reactions of your fellow airmen, and Jackson’s captivating dialogue are just a few of the many great elements that bring this story to life.