Avaloki could be something special. Its Buddhist-inspired tale of two siblings on the search for their exiled father promises wonder and connection. Does it deliver?
The jury’s still out.
The first episode in this interactive series offers just a taste of things to come. You embody an ancient spirit and explore the lives of two children requesting your help. You can see the seeds of a strong bond and otherworldly narrative being sewn, but they don’t get a chance to grow in this installment.
There are some interesting ideas at play here. The brother and sister pair stare up in hope that you’ll guide them, which spurs you to do so. Interactivity’s at play too, letting you select stories you show them by tossing illuminated orbs at stones. But it’s strange to embody a role you yourself don’t truly understand. To be someone without knowing their intentions and to act as if you do is a jarring experience. These kids seem to be dependent on you, but what exactly can you do for them? It’s an idea that pulls the narrative along with intrigue but also a sense of displacement.
Avaloki’s highlights, though, are its incredible flashback paintings, realized in Google Tilt Brush. They prod and hint about the children’s father in cryptic ways, but I was too busy studying the artistry on display. Strokes flow with precision and the depth gives them the appearance of an ancient image come to life. They’re truly a sight to behold, so much so I wish the entire experience would integrate them more like Dear Angelica. By comparison, the rest of the world looks somewhat bleak and blurry.
Director Priyam Parikh says that many meaningful relationships in our lives begin by sharing intimate stories. That might be true of Avaloki, but we’ll have to wait for the second episode to find out. For now, I was left intrigued by these foundations and eager to see what’s next. That’s not a bad start.
Final Say: Worth Watching
Avaloki is available now for free on Oculus Rift via Oculus Home.