Crow: The Legend Review: An Essential Native American Story About The Seasons

by Ian Hamilton • November 15th, 2018

Crow: The Legend is the third VR project from startup Baobab after Invasion! and Asteroids!. A complete departure from the first two, this one is based on a Native American legend featuring an all-star cast of voice talent including John Legend and Oprah. With Baobab’s first title planned for adaptation into a feature length film, CEO Maureen Fan has big plans for this tale too.

You can experience the story for free on Oculus Go, Oculus Rift and Gear VR. I tried Crow: The Legend with Touch controllers and that seems to be the definitive experience.

Baobab toyed with interactivity for VR visitors in previous projects, but as “The Spirit of the Seasons” on Rift each visitor discovers that a simple wave of their arms can change the weather and the seasons at key moments in the narrative. Wouldn’t it be fun to wave your arms and cause snow to appear in the environment around you? It absolutely is, and that feeling is essential to the magic of what director Eric Darnell and the team behind Crow: The Legend are able to accomplish.

As the personified creatures of the forest — a turtle, skunk, owl and moth — struggle to figure out how to handle the sudden cold, the beautiful rainbow-colored crow appears and decides to help. I wasn’t too familiar with this legend before experiencing Crow. If you are unfamiliar with the tale and own Rift, I recommend trying Crow now since this is free.

Darnell aimed to let people make flowers grow, snows fall and winds blow with a wave of their hands, and later on in the story soaring through the universe you conduct a song among the stars like a a conductor leads an orchestra. The aim was for this interaction to be so intuitive it is effortless, focusing the viewer on what matters. I found the effort to be an incredible success.

A lot of people talk about how VR is an empathy machine, but when the snow comes and you just made life harder for a bunch of cute little animals it can force you to feel not just for them but the seasons themselves. I found it so much fun to change the seasons, do you think that’s why the seasons change? I felt that question while wearing the headset, but it wasn’t until writing this article I figured out how to put it into words.

Therein is the true magic of Crow: The Legend.

Final Recommendation: Must See

Crow: The Legend is available now for free on Oculus-powered headsets for a timed exclusivity period, though it should come to other platforms eventually.

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