The road to UploadVR’s Best of 2019 awards starts here! Every weekday for the next fortnight, we’ll be revealing one of the ten nominees for our Overall VR Game/Experience of the Year, counting down to the reveal of our full list of categories and nominees later in December. Today we’re looking at how effortlessly Wolves in the Walls transforms Lucy into a believable, alive character worth spending time with.
When playing a non-VR video game I and probably most gamers around the world have subtly and gradually learned the language of game design. Intuitively we can figure out where to go, what to do, and who to talk to based on how things are laid out, color cues, sound clues, and more. And above all of that, we’re experts at suspending disbelief to get sucked into a fictional, digital world.
But VR changes all of that. The same tricks don’t work anymore and the same quality of NPC voice acting, animation, and scripting just isn’t good enough. In order to truly be immersed, it takes much more elegant AI to sell the illusion of a VR experience. This is something that Wolves in the Walls figures out immediately.
Fable Studio’s VR adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic children’s book begins with the main non-playable character, Lucy, literally drawing you into existence. You’re part imaginary friend, part tourist in her cartoon world where no one believes her that wolves are lurking in the walls. So she brought you here as witness.
You immediately have agency and purpose and Lucy treats you like an equal. She’ll walk around you, make eye contact while speaking, react to moves you make, and even remember things you do. Despite her bold colors, large eyes, and animated whimsy she is still the most believable virtual being I’ve ever seen in a piece of interactive media.
Wolves in the Walls is relatively short, you can see the entire three-part series in less than an hour probably, but it’s highly engaging. The latte portions do some amazing things by playing with your perspective, tricking your mind, and altering what seems real and what doesn’t. It’s a mind-bending story that’s told in a way that only VR can afford and it manages to deliver one of the most memorable things we’ve seen in a headset this year.
It didn’t win an Emmy for nothing.
Wolves in the Walls is a free, interactive VR experience available exclusively on the Oculus Home for Rift store. We haven’t tried it with Oculus Quest via Link or over ReVive, but we expect it to work fine.