‘EVEREST VR’ is a Breathtaking But Brief Ascent to the Peak of the World

by David Jagneaux • July 20th, 2016
Now available on Steam for $24.99

The best way to describe EVEREST VR is to simply call the roughly 30-minute long experience nothing short of breathtaking. From start to finish, my mind was racing as I alternated between my jaw dragging the floor and my breath quickening its pace as the gravity of my situation started to sink in. Sólfar Studios’ incredibly detailed experience feels so realistic at times, I feared that I may join the ranks of the nearly 300 people that have lost their lives in their attempt to climb the mountain that sits as the highest point on the planet.

EVEREST VR has made its rounds at the various trade shows and industry events over the past year or so, resulting in some journalists rejecting the headset altogether, sent clamoring for their sanity, as they’re unable to even complete the demo. Despite that though, it’s not intended as a necessarily frightening experience, it just so happens that it tends to nail the adrenaline-rushing intensity that very likely accompanies the journey up Mt. Everest in real life. Stitching together over 300,000 real photos to digitally recreate one of the most perilous locations in the world tends to do that to you.

Since the entire experience is only a mere half hour in length, I recorded it from start to finish to give you an idea of what to expect. You can see the full gameplay video at the top of this article.

EVEREST E3 Screens_4

You won’t be hopping from ledge to ledge like a mountain climbing machine, such as you may in The Climb, as you’ll instead spend more time simply taking in the sights and sounds around you. This isn’t a game.

As we outlined in a previous story about EVEREST VR, the experience is split into a handful of scenes. Each scene puts you in the shoes of someone on an actual expedition up the mountain. Unlike your everyday hike, getting to the top and back from Mt. Everest is a multi-week affair and requires extreme conditioning and strength to even stand a chance.

Since portraying the entire experience would involve a lot more resting in tents and slowly walking along ledges, Solfar has instead opted for a highlight approach, letting you get a first-person view of many of the mountain’s most treacherous and iconic moments. You’ll pay tribute to the Mountain Gods at the Base Camp, ascend ladders and ropes, and even plant a flag once you reach the top of the summit itself.

While EVEREST VR is, generally speaking, one of the most beautiful VR experiences I’ve seen thus far, the limitations of current hardware are apparent. For starters, the noted screendoor effect of relatively low resolution 1st generation headsets is even more apparent with the bright and prevalent snow-white environments. Furthermore, the abundance of white makes the curvature of the Vive’s fresnel lenses stick out like a sore thumb from time to time.

Again, it’s worth noting that this is an incredibly short experience. While you may personally only get through it once, it feels like something that would serve as an excellent introduction to virtual reality for newcomers. The payoff with the gorgeous view at the very end is well-worth the journey, but it may be a bit too brief for some. I also recommend turning down the air conditioner in your home and pointing a fan at your play space – that will really help add to the level of immersion.

EVEREST E3 Screens_Camp4_Screenshot

After you make your way through the five main scenes: Base Camp, the Khumbu Icefall, Camp Four, Hillary Step and the Summit, you’ll unlock God Mode. This allows you to walk around and inspect the mountain as if you were a skyscraping giant. I enjoyed being able to gaze down at areas that previously frightened me and lean in for a really close look at how detailed everything is.

I’ve never climbed a real mountain and I am perfectly content with admitting that I have no desire whatsoever to actually climb the actual Mt. Everest. That’s not to say I don’t find it impressive – I really, truly do – but it’s not something I’d dedicate my life to doing personally. There are too many VR experiences to write about that take up my time, after all.

Luckily, the release of realistic and downright jarring experiences like EVEREST VR means I don’t have to.

As of August 2nd, EVEREST VR is available on Steam for $24.99. During the first week of release, until August 9th, there is a 10% discount on the game.

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  • user2

    they stitch together 300k photos and then break the immersion because the hands can grab between the staves of the ladder…

  • Pistol Pete

    $25 for a 30 minute runthrough. I believe this is the most $/hr experience for the Vive to date.

  • Sebastien Mathieu

    still, i’m really eager to try this one….

  • Ray Carrender

    I’d pay $2, I’d maybe even pay $5, if I buy this it will be with a prompt return after 30minutes of play time.

    Seriously though, what is with the overpriced games that have less content then most mobile games. Are people trying to drive away the market?

  • LarZen

    Been waiting on this one. I dont even think about the screendoor effect anymore. The choice to go with fresnel lenses however was a big mistake. It’s irritating where there are just a little white. In this game when everything is white it’s going to be interesting to see how it is… 😀

  • Yannick Krempp

    It looks beautiful, but it’s way too expensive for what it is. No replayability, very limited interaction, and so short. It’s a glorified demo, not a game.

    • lemon lemonated

      I like to think these experiences as sort of amusement park rides. If they are immersive enough, they are worth several replays in my opinion. I don’t think all VR experiences need to be games. I definetily want to experience this for example.

      That said, I would have hoped a bit lower price too. Maybe some launch sale could be possible to boost initial sales?

      • Yannick Krempp

        Yes, it’s fine to have “experiences”, it’s also part of the nice features of a new medium, offering something else than the curretn model. Nonetheless, the price is not right IMHO. The Sar wars experience, even if way shorter, is just free. Between this and say, the 30$ that cost a game like Raw Data, it defines a sort of price scale, and it’s not in favor of Everest sadly.

    • Agree. I ain’t paying that for a nice looking short demo. I go for games with replay value.

      • Michael Davidson

        Interesting viewpoint. I pay for games and experiences. This is an experience, it isn’t trying to be a game. It’s $24.99 to experience state of the art visuals within virtual reality of the highest point on Earth. While I am definitely for solid games; I truly want to see more of these types of titles as well.

        • I do agree about the experiencing things we would otherwise never get to experience. Vr is great for that. Apollo 11 is one such title. When you consider The Climb over on octopus store is rather limited for the high price though i think these experiences should be priced accordingly. This particular experience is more reasonably priced.

  • Badelhas

    Super overpriced, imo.

    • JonathanC

      Yep, no way something like this could possibly be worth the price with such good games already out on the Vive.

      • Badelhas

        Are you being sarcastic? ?
        If not, please give me some suggestions, I bought the HTC Vive and only bought Vanishing Realms but I’m a bit disappointed. Only played for 1h but it’s too indie for my taste, the skeletons look childish, for instance. Is there a really good horror game that is worth buying? “Chair in a Room” perhaps?
        Cheers

        • itsKrisJB

          Not played it, but I do hear amazing things about ‘Chair’.

        • HordeZ is the most scary. Great game. The brookhaven experiment also but HordeZ is number one for scary.

          • AJ Henderson

            Say what? HordeZ is so arcady it is almost comical. No way I’d describe it as horror or even slightly scary to anyone. Of course, I suppose I was the same with Brookhaven so there’s that. At least Brookhaven I had limited ammo so I had to worry a little bit. Chair in a Room is actually pretty freaky though. It’s probably the most scary thing available yet for Vive and the only thing I’ve tried so far that actually had me in suspense while playing it.

          • Pistol Pete

            I disagree. Brookhaven Experiment was was scarier and more visceral for me than HordeZ. Chair in a Room is about the best example of room scale horror to date!! And there is no jump scare bull crap, it’s just real built up suspense that keeps ur asshole clenched the whole ride.

          • Badelhas

            Thanks. Just saw a youtube game play video but I am not impressed. I prefer suspense to simple zombie killing. And you don’t even take advantage of the room scale, from what I saw. Did you try Chair in a Room?

          • A Chair in a Room: Greenwater is fantastic – http://uploadvr.com/chair-room-greenwater-review-vr-horror-vive/

          • I have a chair in a room. Interesting but not scary. And looking at a video of HordeZ is no way to judge it. It’s a great game and certainly the scariest I’ve played. Unless you only want story based horror.

        • Going to promote ourselves a bit here and say to check out the reviews tab up at the top ^ of the site, many of those games we’d recommend and we’ve also written a few lists with some suggestions as well:
          http://uploadvr.com/the-7-best-vive-games-to-play-right-now/
          http://uploadvr.com/9-best-multiplayer-vive-games-play-right-now/

          • Badelhas

            Thanks. I am still in the beginning of my HTC Vive exploration and didn’t try a multi-player game, Pool Nation VR and Hover Junkers look nice but are probably expensive, right? Is Unseen Diplomacy still worth getting?
            Cheers

          • Pool Nation VR isn’t very expensive and Hover Junkers is super solid. If those are pricey though, Battle Dome is a great one as well and pretty cheap. Rec Room is also tons of fun and free.

        • ExPatPatriot

          Try Raw Data – you won’t be disappointed.

          • Badelhas

            Thanks. Looks good but it’s not a full game, right? How does that “early acess” crap works? Will we get the full game with the money we pay now or what?
            Cheers

          • You pay now, get the current version, and all future updates and add-ons are free. And by getting in now, you can voice your opinion and help shape the game. The devs of Raw Data are very active with the community.

          • Badelhas

            Thanks once again, David 🙂
            Keep up the great game reviews!

          • And FWIW, here are my thoughts on Raw Data: http://uploadvr.com/raw-data-early-access-impressions-preview/

    • Kira00

      Well, compared to traveling to Everest and climbing up… it’s very cheap.

  • Ombra Alberto

    No Cv1? ooooooooooooooooH

    • Reason being that captain palmer hasn’t supllied you with vr controllers yet. You should have them by 2018 although you can preorder soon.

      • Ombra Alberto

        You believe us.

  • Awesome, Ready to climb Everest 😛

  • Mucker2002

    It’s a tech demo that costs £19, maybe if you buy it you’ll get the real game for free when they release the DLC.