It was only earlier this week that we strapped in to play (well, watch) David Attenborough’s First Life on PlayStation VR. Despite the muddy image quality and lack of viewer interaction, it proved that virtual reality is a fantastic learning tool even if some gamers feel that the appeal isn’t there for them.
Where Alchemy VR’s attempts were somewhat flawed, Fountain Digital Labs certainly fare better with their own immersive virtual reality app. Virry VR is an extension of the studio’s current efforts to turn your sitting room into a living safari.
Viewers are treated to a series of stunning savannah landscapes captured in 360º video. While the quality isn’t super sharp, it’s noticeably better than First Life, Cocos Shark Island, and Atomic Ghost Fleet. The 360º audio is also much more pronounced, especially when in proximity of waterfalls and approaching wildlife.
Instead of sitting through a single reel of footage, Virry is broken down into smaller segments, each one based around a certain environment or animal. Of course, the latter segments are where the app wows the most, even if they all follow a similar template.
After soaking in your surrounding, you’re prompted to shake the DualShock 4 and, in turn, chuck some food in direct view of the camera. Sure enough, the animal in question soon comes to check it out, allowing you to get up close and personal. Being pre-recorded footage, there’s no way of influencing of changing how things play out, so viewers are treated to some narration and the occasional trivia question instead.
A couple of the segments really managed to put a grin on my face. When monitoring the tiger, he walks straight past the bloody pile of meat and up to the viewer. The playback was a little choppy but I couldn’t help but laugh to see the predator attempt to lock his jaws around the camera. While funny, it was amazing at the same time and probably the closest I’ll ever get to seeing a tiger in the wild. Similar antics occur when viewing some of the other animals, the monkeys being another highlight. Oh, and I also got to watch an elephant having a wee too.
One final feature Virry VR has up its sleeve is the livecam. Viewers can basically hop between three different cameras currently stationed in Kenya. It’s a cool little add-on but one that isn’t shot in 360º. Another drawback is its limited-time use – once a free trial period has ended, you won’t be able to access the livecams without signing up to Virry’s network.
At £7.99, I’d say Virry VR was fairly priced. The way video segments have been cut off and packaged means you won’t blitz through the whole thing in one sitting. At the same time, once you’ve seen everything, there’s little incentive to go back, unless sharing the experience with friends and family. That said, it still makes for some great viewing, demonstrating how a few creative tweaks can make something educational feel at home on the PlayStation VR.