VR is no stranger to tough subjects, but few experiences tackle the weight of death and grief with as much grace as Aaron Bradbury’s searingly harrowing Vestige.
This is a tale of love and loss based upon a real account from Lisa, who lost her husband Erik at a young age. Lisa’s memories of the couple’s time together bleed into view like lucid dreams; real photography is pieced together with streaks of light that both illuminate the pair’s life while still leaving the gaps that stop you from getting the full picture. That’s kind of how the brain works, isn’t it?
Vestige initially recalls Dear Angelica with its romanticized tour of a life well lived, though it soon does away with the more fantastical elements. Lisa’s heartbreaking narration, which has a painful croak in the throat at all times, draws you in with its sincerity and the piece’s sensational synthetic soundtrack wrestles with overwhelming joy and grief in equal measure.
It’s impressively assured in how to handle VR, sometimes uncomfortably so. In one particularly draining sequence, Lisa begins to describe memories of the hospital. Here those vibrant lights erractically scramble and screech with piercing aggression and the camera begins to pull you closer to the darkness even as you want to physically back away from it. It’s as hauntingly honest a portrayal of unbearable loss as you’ll ever see, a virtual manifestation of Lisa’s pain so visceral in nature that the temptation to rip your headset off sets in straight away. But Vestige rewards your endurance with a bittersweet reminder of the power of memory and how lucky we are to be able to make them.
That’s what makes this short trip through despair worth it; a tough lesson in holding onto what you have, what you love, and making every moment count. Don’t miss it.
Final Say: Must See
Vestige is available now on Oculus Rift for $4.99.