I found myself yesterday night at a secret location in East London, surrounded by army people that drive you in a full-fledged army truck to a training facility to brief you on the impending zombie apocalypse and your role in it. An immersive theatre experience that scales over a kilometre, running around, climbing through tunnels, and 35 experienced actors playing the part with some scares along the way, of course. Tickets for Virtually Dead have sold out in their official site, but if you somehow can get your hands on some, do so – it’s highly entertaining and very well done.
The star of the show for me was what makes this immersive theatre different than others that I have attended: the Virtual Reality experience, which lets you get your hands on the upcoming HTC Vive due to be released on April 5th.
As part of your zombie apocalypse training a lab technician helps you get suited with the VR headset, and hands you over the HTC Vive controllers, one for each hand, strap around the wrist for safety. The screens go on and you are immersed in a zombie shooting game with several levels. What you first realise is how fluidly your hands move around the virtual space as you wave them – reaching out for weapons, picking them up and swapping them around feel completely natural, and the simple mechanics of shooting and reloading using the controllers’ buttons is really effective. I must also say it’s the very fist time I endured a whole VR experience without feeling dizzy at all. The image is crisp and clear, looking around the scenery becomes second nature and you are not even scared to walk around a bit since the front-facing cameras identify if you are approaching a real life wall and a blue grid in-game will warn you about it.
The experience ends up in a bar where you can have a drink and relax after all the zombie mayhem, and again test the HTC Vive with a little scenario in which you can virtually pick up objects and throw them around an office to get a feeling on how natural it all feels.
HTC is not the only one about to release a VR headset – Playstation is going to enter the fray, releasing theirs in October. So Virtual Reality is not dead at all… it’s alive and kicking in the hands of products like these.