I look into the mirror and the reflection of a very battered, and very distraught, old man stares back at me. I turn my head and he turns his. I raise my chin and his eyes match my gaze – complete with the classic “what’s on my chin” facial expression that all of us do. The effect is rendered so perfectly that I can sense my identity shifting from inside my virtual reality headset. I begin to feel as if I am this poor man. And I’m in a lot of trouble.
The man in the mirror is Robert Wilson and he is the protagonist of an upcoming VR video game known as Wilson’s Heart. As Robert, I woke up in a seemingly abandoned mental hospital and faced the daunting task of finding my way out while navigating around all of the creepy surprises the facility has in store.
I won’t say much more about the story here because the narrative of Wilson’s Heart is far too beautifully crafted to be spoiled. Suffice it to say that the sense of dread, paranoia, and all around creepiness of this game creates the most potent VR experience I’ve ever tried.
The game is plotted much more like a movie. The word cinematic would not be out of place to describe the scale of story it provides. The stellar voice cast also serves to make this world feel infinitely more polished than many of its competitors. Peter Weller (AKA Robocop) in particular is fantastic as Robert and his co-performers – Rosario Dawson and Alfred Molina – all serve to give Wilson’s Heart a much higher level of polish than other experiences.
Speaking of polish, the black and white aesthetic works wonderfully to make Wilson’s Heart one of the most visually striking VR experiences around. The dark shadows and high contrast actually cover a lot of the “screen door” effect and hides any lower resolution parts of the world.
Wilson’s Heart uses hand controls more brilliantly than any VR game I’ve played to date and goes a long way toward showing off why Touch is the next evolution of hand tracking for the industry.
Things as simple as opening a door, flipping through a clipboard, dialing a phone, or touching a dead man’s head (yes that does happen) are all elevated from ordinary moments to incredible memories thanks to Wilson’s Heart superb use of Touch.
Wilson’s Heart is the first VR project from veteran games studio, Twisted Pixel. Despite being new, these guys could teach most established devs a thing or two about VR game design. They are pulling off some truly amazing tricks that should drive the art form forward as a whole.
Early 2017 is the release window for Wilson’s Heart and this one should be a must-see for any VR enthusiast interested in seeing what Oculus Touch can really do.