‘Kusunda’ VR Short Film Review

Kusunda is an excellent VR film from NowHere that asks some important questions about family, legacy and the impermanence of culture itself. We meet Lil Bahadur, former member of the Kusunda people, and learn what he and his granddaughter are doing to memorialize their language before it is forgotten.

Kusunda is a VR cinematic documentary about a tribe of hunter-gatherers, the language they spoke, and what their legacy will be in today’s world. The experience has a really interesting extra feature where it asks you to try to pronounce a certain few words or phrases of the Kusunda people at specific times during the story. Players can opt out of this system, though I do not recommend doing so. I found myself particularly more engaged in listening to the language and its pronunciation, knowing that I would be asked to attempt to speak it.

Kusunda also features some of the best visual storytelling I have seen in a documentary in this style: from the swooping 3d footage of Nepal’s hills and valleys, to a storybook-like retelling of the protagonist’s anecdotes in animated fashion. I found myself emotionally moved by the story of Lil Bahadur and his granddaughter – especially by the little twist at the end of the Kusunda VR experience. I can easily recommend this to any who enjoy these sorts of VR films, particularly those who might appreciate the novelty introduced here by the voice recording mechanic.

I experienced Kusunda on Viveport Infinity on an Oculus Quest 2 through Virtual Desktop, in the seated position. Everything worked smoothly with no technical issues or VR instability.

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Solve the Case in ‘Madrid Noir VR’

Madrid Noir is an interactive VR experience telling the story of a young girl named Lola as she pretends be a detective around the city of Madrid, during the summer she lives with her weird uncle. As the story unfolds and clues reveal themselves, the stakes are raised dramatically and there is a great on-foot chase sequence. The story is super cute, with a lot of very nice animation to match the excellent voice acting.

 For those that haven’t engaged in a VR experience film before, they’re pretty straightforward. They will almost always be less than an hour’s worth of narrative content where players engaging in the story through minor interactions. These often are things like pushing buttons or pointing items at the action. Sometimes these are optional, but I find they help add to the sense of presence of the films. Madrid Noir, for example, had a scene where we had to aim a flashlight in the dark to help Lola find her way before it would proceed to the next scene.

It’s worth noting that this particular experience did require players stand for the duration. This was so that we could turn in the directions the experience wanted, like to see the characters after a dramatic scene change. I find this kind of setup to be demanding and rude towards its audience- Snap rotation is a standard across almost all of the VR industry, so I don’t know why a developer would choose to exclude the feature when it means the difference between a seated or standing game. Accessibility matters, even in VR, people!

I really did adore the experience, however. Lola and her uncle were great, and I love the animation style so very much. This wasn’t the studio’s first VR experience, as they have previously produced Battlescar and Gloomy Eyes. I can tell Madrid Noir was made by a team of professionals, and I am hoping for more along these lines of quality. Recommended.

I’m IndieSam and you can follow me on my Steam Curator page for more VR indie games, experiences and more.

Relax, Examine, Reflect: Chill, Immersive Fieldtrips in ‘VR Walking Simulator’ (Review)

VR Walking Simulator is something simple: Players will take a nice and quiet walk through the woods in virtual reality with an ingame polaroid camera to capture photos of a variety of levels.

The idea of games with no objectives or enemies is interesting, but it means there’s not much to keep most players engaged after they’ve explored each map. I’m aware some people like to relax in VR headsets and meditate, and I wonder if VR Walking Simulator would work for that. The music and background noises are perfect as they are relaxing and mostly quiet.

I should probably add that the VR version of the game worked perfectly for me, but when I tried changing the settings the game went a little crazy, and because of the camera interface, I ended up with a LOT of Steam screenshots of myself stuck under the floor. Once my pure panic stopped, I was able to figure out how to adjust the settings to work for me. There is also a non-VR version that runs very smoothly, complete with the camera for screenshots.

The developer of VR Walking Simulator has made something special here – I feel like I would love to see more of this sort of thing in the future, though maybe with a little bit of busywork? I’d love to spend more time exploring these lovingly crafted levels, especially if there was just a bit more to them than what is presented.

I do recommend VR Walking Simulator, though buyers need to be aware there are only so many maps with little content in them other than exploring and photographing the eye-pleasing scenarios.

Played using a copy sent by the developer through Steam’s Curator Connect platform – Follow me on Steam at  IndieSamAdonisReviews for under-appreciated indie games, neat VR experiences, and all sorts of other funstuffs! I’m also on Twitter!

‘The Haunted Graveyard’ (VR) Review

The Haunted Graveyard is a short walking-only VR experience that will leave players feeling creeped out or mesmerized by its delightfully kooky characters and Disneyworld’ish dark-ride style presentation.

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‘Gnomes & Goblins’ – VR Review

Gnomes & Goblins is one of those products that seems like it was designed to introduce people to the potential wonder of virtual reality games. Available on SteamVR and Viveport Infinity, I enjoyed my time in this fantastical experience. We play as a human exploring a magical forest of strange creatures and get to see their tiny villages and strange cultures as we walk through the paths presented by the game’s developer, Wevr.

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