Meena’s journey continues in this absolutely breathtaking expansion to last years VR tear-jerker.
The last time we talked about Arden’s Wake, we referred to it as essentially “Pixar in VR.” A testament to the endless possibilities of long-form virtual cinema, the ambitious project immediately grabbed our attentions with its unique approach to storytelling, refusing to let us go until the credits rolled.
Arden’s Wake: Prologue tells the story of Meena, a strong young woman living in a post apocalyptic world in which the seas have swallowed the entire Earth. After an unexplained accident befalls her father, Meena ventures into the unknown depths on a daring rescue mission, discovering various sea life scattered among sunken remnants of the old world. Unfortunately that’s where part one ended, leaving audiences desperate for more of Meena’s story.
With Penrose Studios’ Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall we finally have some answers. Premiering at the Tribeca Immersive’s Virtual Arcade as part of the annual Tribeca Film Festival, this second installment to the Arden’s Wake story not only continues Meena’s story as she continues her desperate journey in search of her lost father, but drastically improves upon nearly every single aspect of the original installment’s production.
Along with adding 14 minutes of additional story to the Arden’s Wake series, the textures are crisper, the animation is smoother, the room scale is more generous and for the first time ever, there is professional voice acting. Not just voice acting, but a brilliant performance by Swedish Academy Award-winner and new Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander, in the role of Meena.
“This project is unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and I think virtual and augmented reality are going to be big in Hollywood, as well as entertainment more broadly,” Alicia Vikander shared. “Meena’s character has a special spark, and I was immediately drawn to her when I experienced her in VR. The movie daringly brings up difficult situations while also allowing viewers to get quite close to the characters in such an immersive and emotional experience. I am thrilled to help bring Meena’s character to life.”
“As we continue down our path of creating world-class immersive stories and bringing important issues to the surface, a natural next step for us was to partner with someone like Alicia in our work,” added Eugene Chung, CEO and Founder of Penrose Studios and writer/director of Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall.
“The added emotion, perspective and texture Alicia adds to the piece is new territory for the studio, as well as for the AR & VR storytelling industry overall. We’re incredibly honored to have Alicia’s partnership in in this journey, and it is inspiring to work with her. As we evolve the way we tell stories in AR & VR, we’re finding more and more ways to make sound and visuals work together to create engaging, human stories in this brand new medium.”
According to Penrose, the Arden’s Wake series is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While speaking to project co-creator Jimmy Maidens, the ambitious developer expressed their interest in combining the stories and characters within the Arden’s Wake universe, perhaps eventually introducing elements from other outside projects. It sounds as though when it comes to the future of Arden’s Wake, the skybox is the limit.
With VR filmmaking still in its infancy, the jury is still very much out in terms of established techniques for shooting VR films. And while they still may have a long way to go, Penrose Studios has definitely proven they’re on the right track with Arden’s Wake. Miniturizing their sets down to the size of toys has proven to be an excellent form of virtual storytelling, providing a comfortable yet immersive experience that allows the audience to choose how they view the journey; something conventional 2D media couldn’t possibly hope to replicate.
Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall is available for viewing from now until Saturday, April 28th at the Tribeca Virtual Arcade show floor in NYC. An official launch date for the full Arden’s Wake experience will be made public in the near future.
Last year Arden’s Wake: Prologue took home their first Lion for Best VR from the Venice Film Festival. After experiencing this second installment myself, I think it’s safe to say Penrose should start thinking about making some room in their trophy cabinet.