Dispatch (2017), a new episodic story from VR pros Here Be Dragons, launched on Oculus Rift and Gear VR yesterday. Following a small-town emergency dispatcher named Ted (voiced by Martin Starr), you experience the story through a sort of half-imagined, half-real version of the grizzly events he’s privy to.
One of the unique features in Dispatch is its minimalist art style, which leaves a lot of room for the viewer to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. After all, as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, Ted only has the sound from the phone to drawn upon, so every slam or creak of a door is potentially a clue to what’s happening on the other end of the line.
Writer and Director Edward Robles said in an Oculus blog post announcing the experience’s release that from the very beginning he was intent on creating something minimalist, “reducing the details of everyday life to the most evocative.” Highly reliant on positional audio, you’re essentially following along with Ted as he recreates the grizzly scenes of violence in his mind. Despite its visual sparseness, the effect Dispatch has on you is pretty visceral.
Martin Starr, also known for his role as Gilfoyle in Silicon Valley, delivers the action with his patently monotone voice, acting as a sobering backdrop to the violence at hand.
Dispatch is told across 4 episodes, offering the first episode for free, which lasts about 5 minutes. The full four episodes however costs an additional $3, adding about 10 more minutes of overall time to the entire story.
Here’s how Here Be Dragons describes Dispatch:
What begins as a domestic violence call quickly cascades into a host of attacks across town, and the local police are struggling to keep up. Every new call sheds light on Ted’s inner torments and pushes him closer toward danger. Police dispatchers are trained to see with sound. Every door slam, tire screech, and piercing scream paints a picture in their minds. The visual world of Dispatch unfolds inside Ted’s imagination as he wades through the soundscape, advising terrified callers and listening for clues. Ted yearns to be at the scene of the crime, to be given the chance to really help someone. He’s about to get what he wished for.
You can read the full interview with Robles here, where he describes a little more about the creative process, and working with Starr to fill in the role as Ted.