Monday, 23 July 2018

Virtual Room - Review of Chapter II

Hi everyone

My team had previously been to Virtual Room to try their first Adventure room (called Chapter I).  You can check out my review of that room here.

Virtual Room has recently released a second VR room, called Chapter II.  This was the third VR room that my team had tried.  Virtual Room is one of 3 VR companies (that I am aware of) that have opened in Sydney recently.  I have been intrigued ever since I heard about VR rooms hitting Sydney – how would they compare to a real world experience?

Virtual Room is located on George Street in the city (in the same building as Escape Hunt Sydney).  We were again unable to get a babysitter for this escape, so my wife sat this one out and it was the 3 remaining members of my usual escape room team that tried out their room.

This was our 68th room in Sydney and our 98th room in Australia. 

Here’s what I enjoyed most about Virtual Room's Chapter II:
  • Virtual Room use HTC Vives for the experience.  I’m not really up to speed on the various virtual reality tech that currently exists, but I can say that the headsets were very comfortable.  When we each spoke I could easily hear my teammates.  And lastly, the quality of the graphics was excellent.  I wear glasses and I am happy to report that I wore my glasses during the experience without any issues;
  • Virtual Room have a dedicated room for each player.  I think our rooms were about 3m x 3m, with the headset being connected to the ceiling in the centre of the room;
  • the game masters at Virtual Room explained that their games are designed with a real focus on ensuring that players don’t feel nauseous or get headaches.  This is achieved through the design of the game and the fact that when you physically walk within the room, you also move in the VR space.  As Virtual Room explain on their website “Games are also played standing up so your brain and your body are always working together just as they would in the real world”;
  •  as a result, I’m pleased to report that nobody in our team felt nauseous at all, either during the experience of afterwards.  Since trying their Chapter I room, my team had been to another VR room in Sydney where players are strapped into chairs (rather than walk around freely within a space).  In that other VR experience, we all felt nauseous (and I remember feeling off for a number of hours afterwards).  I'm really pleased to report that both times I have been to Virtual Room, none of my team members suffered from any nausea;
  • Chapter II is very similar in style and graphics to Chapter I.  The main difference is that the puzzles are harder and a little more complex;
  • that being said, the game design was very clever.  Much like Chapter 1, the design in Chapter II allows Virtual Room to display the various kinds of worlds that could be applied to an escape room in a VR experience;
  • there were also a number of puzzles that could not be solved without working together as a team.  Each player is in their separate physical room, but can see and interact with each other in the VR world.  The puzzles were designed to require interaction (and they were also a lot of fun);
  •  the controls were all very intuitive (and they felt very natural).

Much like Chapter I, I would describe Chapter II as being more of a multiplayer gaming experience than a true escape room experience.  That being said, there is no doubt that many people who enjoy escape rooms would also enjoy this kind of VR experience.

Virtual Room now have 2 VR rooms open, but have plans to design and open many more rooms in the future. The biggest shame of course with a great (physical) escape room outfit is that they are limited in the amount of space that they have, so once you have tried all of their rooms, that’s it.  Given the cost of setting up a room, they generally don’t take them down and replace them with new ones (or at least very few have done that so far in the Sydney market over the past 4 years).  The allure of a VR experience is that they could have a large library of themes to pick from – there really is no limit given it’s as simple as running a different program on the computer system.

For the escape room enthusiasts out there, I would certainly recommend Virtual Room's rooms as a nice twist on the more traditional escape room experience.  It was a lot of fun (all 3 of us really enjoyed ourselves) and we were challenged.  We had a slight technical glitch towards the end of the experience, but this was quickly resolved by our game master.

Based on both experiences we have had at Virtual Room, I'm really excited to see what the future has in store for VR escape rooms.

Where:                   Level 5, 393 George Street, Sydney

Duration:               45 minutes

Themes:                 2

Cost:                       We played at the kind invitation of Virtual Room

Overall Rating:       Another really fun, challenging interactive VR take on escape rooms 

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