Secret Location, developers behind Blasters of the Universe (2017), today launched a Philip K. Dick-inspired VR adaptation of The Great C, a sci-fi short story that follows a tribe of humans oppressed by an artificially intelligent overlord.
The titular VR experience takes you to the ruins of a typical American city, now entirely depopulated with a tribe of hunter-gatherers living at its periphery. If you’ve read Dick’s short story, which was published in 1953, Secret Location has significantly turned up the malevolence of the AI overlord, dubbed ‘The Great C’, by adding in a twisted human servant to the mix who makes sure its yearly ‘report’ is carried out.
Here’s Secret Location’s back cover blurb:
The Great C follows Clare, a young woman who finds her life upended when her fiancé is summoned for this year’s pilgrimage. Leaving the safe confines of her village, Clare must decide whether to accept the rules of her harsh society or fight against the oppressive powers that created it.
Without spoiling the 37-minute real-time rendered experience any further, it’s safe to say The Great C is an early triumph in VR storytelling. It’s a visually compelling experience that marries expert voice acting, motion capture, and classic movie-style pacing that will leave you wishing it were adapted into a fully explorable VR game.
As a VR short story though, you’re swept through the narrative via predetermined camera spots, letting you soak in a variety of richly detailed locations as the action unfolds. Since nature has reclaimed much of the world, you’re treated to visually stunning landscapes and crumbling cities.
The experience offers both a normal viewing mode, which automatically teleports you to discrete viewing areas, and a ‘cinematic mode’, which takes you through sweeping camera shots and fluidly scales your point of view from area to area. The latter I found to be somewhat uncomfortable, as constantly scaling from small to large can be fairly disorienting.