My VR Experiences: The Turning Forest
VR has so much untapped potential across all spectrums of any given industry, but I found the most profound experience to be in mobile VR experiences.
Full disclosure: At this time, my experiences are based mostly from the DayDream platform.
What is it?
Basically, the Turning Forest is a narrated fairy tale, where users are ‘guided’ through the unique visual and audio experiences within a fantasy environment.
It’s an excellent execution of brilliant storytelling, vibrant visuals, and immersive audio.
How was it?
Amazing, but let’s break it down. The experience can be critiqued in four areas: user interaction, audio, graphics, and comfort.
Other users might have a different experience, but I thought the app really took advantage of a user’s natural curiosity in the environment. With the DayDream remote, I intuitively tried to find what objects could be interacted.
Although there weren’t many of these objects, the scarcity only made those interactions much more valuable and meaningful. My favorite part would have to be the beast’s teeth, which brings us to audio.
Spatial audio is typically pretty critical in creating immersive experiences, and the Turning Forest did not disappoint. Various foreground and background audio sources like birds chirping or the sounds of the ocean were superbly spatially rendered. In the picture below, each tooth that I crossed with my DayDream remote emitted a clear, crisp sound, which when heard felt like I was actually in front of the beast’s mouth.
Storytelling with visuals is a pretty hard combination to nail especially on a resource constrained platform, but this style of cel-shaded graphics paired very nicely for a fairy tale experience. Furthermore, the fact that there were no weird flashes, lagging, or awkward pixelations contributed to an overall buttery smooth experience.
Last but not least, the Google Play version of the app didn’t induce any simulator sickness. The slow, easy-going on-rails mechanic certainly eliminated a good portion of potential discomfort and disorientation. This was especially executed quite well when ‘climbing’ board the beast.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to complete the pre-screen scoring of the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire (SSQ), but at the end of the experience I would give a score of 0, which means no sickness whatsoever.
There are numerous applications for VR, but I think storytelling shouldn’t be forgotten amidst them. I intentionally didn’t touch on the story in this review because I didn’t want to reveal any spoilers, but it induced a sense of nostalgia and wonder. Combined with immersive audio and visuals, VR seems to be a ideal medium to convey subtle sentiments through excellent user-focused design and execution.
Definitely check The Turning Forest out on the DayDream platform!
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