Now if you know even the slightest shred of information about me, you’d know I’m passionate about 2 things, my jobs and the environment. So I was ecstatic when I found out my Virtual Reality adventures would be a collection of documentary experiences of the ocean instead of actual games.
Alchemy VR Experience consists of 3, unique 360 degree perspectives of everything sunken, savage and extra-terrestrial, as after all the ocean is like it’s own unexplored planet.
Now VR still holds a soft but awkward spot for me. While I love being immersed in a world, but by god the heavy, bulky gear hurts my neck, so I only like to use it in short bursts. Thankfully each of these VR encounters are short and sweet, perfect for these games as you truly absorb what is going on around you.
Below is each title in the order I enjoyed them.
1. Cocos: Shark Island
Shark Island is the opening title in the collect and centres around the coral covered sea bed of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Costa Rica. This 10 minute video has you surrounded by scuba divers and a small submarine as they guide you through trenches riddled with reef and hammerhead sharks. While not being the clearest documentary or most content driven of the 3 titles, it gives you a good insight into the dynamic life of the not most famously known sharks of the deep blue.
2. Atomic Ghost Fleet
The longest and my second favourite of this wet, wild and watery collection. This 18 minute documentary is based around the ghost ships left on the ocean bed by human’s need for destruction; nuclear testing. Bikini Atoll (or Sponge Bob’s Bikini Bottom if you are into TV theories) the famous nuclear testing grounds from 70 years ago is not so famously known for also being a testing dumping ground. Hundreds of metres below the waves is a graveyard of many rusted titans, paying particular attention to 3 now forgot warships. As mentioned before, the 360 degree view of these colossi, really encapsulate the brute force of these test explosions, and the snap shots of footage are a great reminder of the potential power we hold and the curiosities we had in the past. This virtual experience will have you swimming around and even through the rusted and dilapidated ruins, hanging off every word the narrator says, listening to how it came to rest forever on the ocean floor.
3. First Life VR
Lastly, the shining star of the titles, is the legendary narrated piece by the one and only David Attenborough, his documentary, First Life VR. David takes you on a journey through not only the ocean but through time. In this 15 minute documentary, you travel through the ancient Cambrian Ocean of 540 million years ago, literally swimming amongst evolution itself. David narrates the deep-sea journey through time and you literally hang off every word he says as he describes the enormous and miniature, extraordinary, and fascinating earliest, extinct, sea creatures that surround you whatever direction you look. This one differs in the fact it isn’t actual footage (well pretty impossible ... for now) however this 3D generated world is brimming with detail, environments as realistic as you could only hope to imagine, and is definitely an experience both young and old would enjoy as you are very engrossed in what is around you once you dive in.
Overall feeling? This production of titles are a very immersive education tool, allowing you to engage with the ocean in a way you didn’t think you could do before. The 360 degree views of this collect allow you to really feel as if you are submerged in the deep, blue depths, and will have you guessing what is going to be coming next from what direction. PS VR has some compelling content here and I hope similar projects are to come.
Also, as a side note, once again we'd like to thank Plantronics for the RIG 4VR for making my Virtual Reality experience more comfortable with their beautifully designed, light weight (thank god) and geniusly balanced, sturdy headset. This headset is a must have for PS4 VR headsets as it slots over perfectly with no awkwardness. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the Alchemy VR as much without the crisp sounds of the surrounding ocean and the clear narration of the voices echoing around me.