Hands-on: I braved the “Storm” and survived

by Ian Hamilton • October 2nd, 2015

I had five minutes to figure out how to get out of the bitter cold and inside the warm embrace of a cabin. Out in the Storm, the wind howls and snow blankets the landscape. Through the flurries I can barely see the outline of a cabin up ahead and I push my way forward.frozen

London-based production studio Unit9 will continue developing the Storm, but the initial 345 megabyte download delivers a stark landscape that is probably best enjoyed with a fan blowing directly at you in the real world to add to the immersion. Moving with a keyboard and mouse (or with a gamepad) is usually a bad idea when it comes to VR experiences as the simulated movement — in this case a slow walk — can be a quick way to make a person feel nauseous. I am pretty well adapted to the feeling so I didn’t experience any discomfort. Others might not be so lucky. Storm was rated as a “moderately comfortable experience” on Oculus Share.

Once downloaded and opened, the experience can be shown on a Rift DK2 by pressing alt + enter. Headphones on, a loud hum that seems to move with the flowing snow helps round out the desolate conditions.  The developers were going for a feeling like the classic Antarctic horror film The Thing and overall that is indeed what I was reminded of trudging toward the cabin. The blowing snow effects of the Unreal Engine and low visibility suggest something might be out there in the cold with you.

The snow goggle-like DK2 fit well with the sense of place because ice starts to creep around the lenses as your time runs out. Eventually, your avatar begins moving more slowly and time is nearly up. I don’t want to post any spoilers but I “beat” the experience and found a way inside on my first try. Unit9 is also aiming for a feeling similar to mobile puzzler The Room but they’ll have to keep working if they want to build something a bit more challenging. Even so, the cold lonely environment and short window in which to escape to safety leaves a lasting impression.

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