The whimsical VR game LUNA is a beautifully crafted calming experience that will make you feel like a child with their first toy.
LUNA IS A WHIMSICAL FABLE THAT TAKES PLACE IN A STAR TANGLED GALAXY WHERE A YOUNG BIRD MUST MAKE ITS WAY HOME.
I had my first hands on experience with Luna at OC4 and was blown away by the charm of its gameplay as well as the way the game made me felt calm. My demo was a bit interesting, I had just finished demoing the PTSD Psychological Horror game Transference and really needed a change of pace as Transference is quite literally a mind warping twisted experience. I needed something a little different and saw that LUNA was available to play.
Luna is a magical fable about restoring life to a beautiful fairy-tale world. Luna is also game about untangling trauma by solving puzzles and creating miniature musical world to re-awaken the shadowy forest and discover its hidden secrets. This seemed like an interesting contrast to a horror game about PTSD. I was already interested in LUNA since it was developed by a company founded by Robin Hunicke. Robin is an amazing voice in the game development world and her talk to this years Oculus LaunchPad class was very inspirational.
Robin's company Funomena has a uniquely diverse team of veteran developers who have worked on several critically acclaimed games( Journey, Flower, Boom Blox, The Sims 2)
The team has crafted a pop up story book of a VR game that reminds me of the simple toys of my childhood that made me smile. Though the game had some simple but cute visuals and easy to pick up gameplay it was not until I started to truly interact with the tool set did I really start to smile.
The three distinct element of game play are as followed.
Place, customize and interact with miniature, living terrariums.
Solve celestial puzzles to unlock their plants and animals.
Play musical flora and fauna to reveal the enchanting score.
It was fun to place trees and plants around but once I realized you could place them in water my terrarium started to come to life more than I expected. After placing several plants in the water frogs magically started appearing on the lilly pads and all the colors seemed to be more vibrant. This put an absolute smile on my face and it was that moment LUNA felt like the first time I ever drew a picture. I was creating VR life and felling life inside me.
"We believe that as VR, AR and MR technology develops, more and more people are able experience just how magical and immersive games can be. We want to be there to welcome these new players, giving them an experience that is beautiful, soothing and engaging. We hope everyone out there enjoys this experience as much as we enjoyed creating it!"- Funomena CEO Robin Hunicke
The story does not end there however. That evening I had a nightmare that was so violent that influenced by the game Transference. It was at that moment I saw that Transference is a piece of VR cinema/game that is dangerous. I was intrigued that the game had that much of an effect. After a few moments my mind then automatically went to the happy moments of playing LUNA in a way that both games had wired themselves to my brain. LUNA had become a calming mechanism not just as a VR game but in the impact it had imprinted on to my mind and psyche.
That shows me what immersive VR really is.