Unless you’ve been living under a (WiFi blocking) rock, you’ve probably heard of Westworld – HBO’s Wild West meets Jurassic Park meets Blade Runner flagship show for the year. The premise of the show – an immersive, adult theme park populated by robots – takes quite a bit of creative license from what is available today. However, with a few of the more advanced VR experiences and a pinch of creativity, you’re able to get reasonably close to a Westworld-esque reality.
Westworld has the train to enter the adventure. VR has headsets.
The Samsung Gear VR uses your phone handset as the screen, making VR cheaper with fewer hardware requirements – great for simple animated worlds, but lacking the power to run enhanced visuals in real time. Stepping things up, the Oculus and HTC Vive are both designed for VR experiences that run off your PC’s processing power. The PlayStation VR is one for the console owners, using the powerful PlayStation 4 processor to do the heavy lifting.
Once you’re there
Once you’ve got your headset, you have plenty of decisions about what type of experience you want, and how deep you want it to be. Whether it’s a fully interactive game or a back-seat spot in a TV thriller, here’s a few of Red Wire’s favourites:
Just as Westworld’s power struggles play out like moves on a chessboard, Hitman Go reinvents the successful console franchise in a logic-challenging, turn-based puzzle game.
Instead of simply porting the game to a mobile platform, Square Enix reimagined the Hitman concept as a series of hyper-stylish dioramas set on a game board. Plan your moves in advance and don disguises to navigate past henchman to your target. It’s not quite bargaining with revolutionaries, but it’s close.
Your co-worker leaves for a bathroom break, asking you not to touch anything before they leave. Should you touch the big red button in front of you? Like finding the centre of the maze, this simple puzzle game quickly becomes a quagmire of decisions, questions, and clues to follow, with creepy occurrences and cataclysmic consequences if you get it wrong (or right). Coupled with the immersion of a VR headset, this frantic gameplay will have you forgetting any other life exists outside of the next puzzle.
Aside from video games, VR also offers a new medium for highly interactive visual storytelling. Gone is an immersive thriller set across 11 episodes. It features several ‘hotspots’ within episodes that allow the viewer to switch viewpoints within scenes and follow it’s missing person mystery along with that of the characters. An impressive story told with you in the centre.
What it lacks in Westworld’s cannibal tribes and Viking villains, Dead Secret makes up for in a bone-chilling mystery with you as the protagonist. As a reporter with a hunch your subject was murdered, you’ll dive head-first into exploring a creepy manor, delving for clues and avoiding dangers. It’s particularly chilling in first person, where one wrong move can mean your demise.
The closest thing to an open world on this list is Minecraft VR. Want to build anything, mine everything, and interact with anyone in an open world? Minecraft is the most like Westworld you’ll get. And yes, the further you go underground for more valuable minerals, the more intense (and dangerous) it’ll get.
Robinson: The Journey
Replace bandits with dinosaurs and PSVR’s ‘Robinson: The Journey’ could be the closest you can get to exploring a new world built from scratch. Developed by Crytek (known for pushing the limits of realistic computer graphics), you play Robinson, a young boy who has crash-landed in the middle of dino-country, with little time to figure a way out.
Want an unthreatening experience to make you feel like a superhero? The peaceful, soothing world of Land’s End is as far as you’ll get from the mayhem of the Wild West. Created by the award-winning team behind (groundbreaking mobile game) Monument Valley, Land’s End immerses you in a stylistically minimal, soothing landscape as you solve puzzles and traverse new scenes. It’s engrossing enough to have you in a calm, meditative state in no time.
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