I’d be willing to bet that in some sort of all-encompassing list of ‘Things Most Looked At In VR,” a starry night’s sky ranks highly. There’s no more obvious and immediate source of beauty on the entire planet, after all, and some of us see it every time we boot up our HTC Vives. But, after over a year of star gazing in VR, how do you maintain that same sense of wonder you first felt when you tilted your head upwards? Coatsink and Oculus Studios have a suggestion.
A Night Sky is coming to Gear VR as a free release and, yes, it uses that shiny new controller set to debut later this month, though it supports gaze control too if you’re not planning on picking one up.
The app is a typically whimsical introduction to VR. You sit over looking a ranch hidden away behind some rock formations. It’s a peaceful scene, the kind that reminds me of a nice night spent wondering the plains of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, though there are no cowboys in sight. Instead, there’s a big glowing star sitting in the center of the dark blue sky, calling to you to glimpse at it for just a few seconds.
Do so, and another star appears. And another, and so on.
Eventually, you’ll join the dots of a recognizable shape — in the first instance a bird — which will then come to life right before your eyes. An owl swoops down from the heavens and perks itself on a branch to one side. It looks on as new stars appear and invite you to once again create imaginary constellations out of them that will then trigger other sequences.
I make a boat and watch two ships sail into the night air and trade cannonballs, while later butterflies surround me as they flutter upwards. It’s all very lovely and pleasant, though there’s a lot of that going around in VR already. Solid production values and the lack of pricing should make it worth checking, out though.
A Night Sky isn’t going to be the big, expansive kind of adventure that Coatsink is building with Augmented Empire, but it’s not meant to be. It’s the kind of thing you’ll stick on your friend’s head as an introduction into the wide and wonderful world of VR.
A Night Sky releases alongside Gear VR’s new controller on April 21st.