‘Virtual Reality is like dreaming with your eyes open’
These are the words of Dr. Brennan Spiegel, the healthcare specialist who cited a study claiming that Virtual Reality (VR) games have therapeutic benefits that could help patients deal with physical or mental trauma.
The wonders of VR are clear. You can hurtle down the track on a gravity-defying roller coaster, gaze in awe at a Triceratops grazing in front of you, or battle to the death in a dusty Wild West town – and it feels like you’re there. It’s literally the stuff dreams are made of.
As we edge towards a future where VR games are going to play a more prominent role in our lives, here are a selection of the finest titles to lose yourself in.
Set in a gorgeous cityscape floating among the clouds, Allumette’s dream-like world allows you to lose yourself in the truest sense of the word.
By presenting itself as a virtual world to explore rather than a game, it can almost be classed as a movie that you create yourself. You can wander down streets, peer inside houses and interact with other people, although there’s no speaking involved: instead the characters use a series of gestures and sounds to communicate. In fact, players of The Sims will be familiar with this type of behaviour.
Penrose Studios created a VR masterpiece with this stunning narrative. Try it out if you feel like a break from the real world.
Jack’s VR World (part of the SlotsMillion app)
The tale of Jack and the Beanstalk plays a big part in the bedtime stories of children all across the world and tells the inspiring story of a boy climbing into the clouds via a gigantic beanstalk. There’s even a YouTube playlist that tells the narrative in 19 languages for those wanting to hear it once more.
Jack’s World VR is aimed at adults who haven’t forgotten this fairytale and like to try out free slot games every now and then.
Following aspects of the original narrative, the game takes you to Jack’s small cottage, where you have to try and get a reward from his homemade bean machine. Taking the form of a slot game, you have to spin a good combination of symbols to progress, but what sets it apart from regular casino games are its great quality visuals and background music that make you feel a part of the scene.
So, if you’re feeling nostalgic AND lucky, then Jack’s VR World could prove to be a satisfying experience.
A Google Cardboard title – just slot in your smartphone and head off on this virtual globetrotting experience.
Expeditions provides an alternative way to travel from the comfort of your own home; it’s also much cheaper and better for the environment. You can head off for a fully-immersive 360 degree experience in a plethora of world landmarks. Hit the heights of Everest without gasping for oxygen, or take in the views of the Eiffel Tower without trying to beat the queues; the app takes you right there.
Those of us who remember the excitement of Google Earth will feel a similar twinge of excitement when we play this for the first time, and there will surely be updates to the app in the months to come to improve the experience even more.
The beauty of this app is its innovation. Who would have thought combining education with racing would be so effective?
Players are transported to a microworld inside a human body and have to complete special tasks like riding down capillaries, vaccinating cells and escaping from viruses. The attention to detail is terrific; cells are presented in all their anatomical glory, and the inner world of a human is transformed into a 3D landscape.
Of course, this is great for kids to play but adults can also take something out of it. Let’s face it, most of us are pretty rusty when it comes to biology. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of fun as part of the bargain!
VR Crazy Swing
Remember being on a swing as a kid and trying to touch the sky? No? Just me, then.
VR Crazy Swing let’s us live out our childhood daydreams. Starting like a conventional fairground ride, you take off from the ground and then start your ascent—going up, and up…and up. Soon you’ll see your virtual legs dangling above a cityscape, with skyscrapers and highways appearing below you. Be prepared for the descent, though, the super-realistic swoosh of the wind rushing past you will make you feel as if you’re actually plummeting to the ground, and might even bring on a tad of nausea.
Fans of roller coaster sims will enjoy this virtual playground spin-off, but the truth is maybe it will lose its novelty for some people after half an hour of swinging back and forth.
Taking the concept of the Virtual Swing one step — or several steps — further is this leap into the cosmos. The Cosmic Rollercoaster is one that will take you on a magical mystery tour of the solar system and give you a good idea of what it’d be like to cruise high above the planets.
Again, Google Cardboard is the device you use to experience this intergalactic world, so you’ll be able to tour it in typically immersive style. You cruise past moons and meteors at the speed of light, which doesn’t seem so fast in the vast expanse of space.
As the world of VR expands in 2020, there will surely be a wave of incredible new titles to try out over the next few years. Trying out the apps in this list will give you a great taste of what to expect and, as Dr. Spiegel said, you might just feel like you’re dreaming with your eyes open.