Oculus Connect is perhaps my favorite VR event as it seems to be a point where people seem to get a recharge of VR enthusiasm. Last year I checked out some amazing games including ARKTICA.1 and the runaway VR hit Lone Echo. However, last year was a different time for me and after being with a VR company that dissolved a few months before OC4 and several projects not going the way I wanted I was looking for something to inspire me to love VR again.
At the Oculus pre event mixer I met Will Cherry of Here Be Dragons who told me about their latest project Dispatch. I had heard about Dispatch when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival but figured I would have to wait until the consumer release to see it. Will was such a cool person I decided I would make sure to check Dispatch out when I had some time to demo. Here Be Dragons have created one of my favorite 360 experiences with their Mr. Robot 360 episode so I figured it would be good.
Dispatch follows a small-town police dispatcher as he faces an all-night crime spree. The experience takes you inside the dispatcher’s perspective. There were 2 episodes of the Dispatch series ready to view at the event which created a 15 min experience. I did not go in expecting to much as it was a non interactive VR experience, how could it possibly blow me away.
Well my jaded understanding off what can be accomplished in a non interactive VR experience had to be completely thrown out the window. Dispatch is the closest thing I have ever felt to being inside a comic book, not as a participant but as the curious reader waiting in anticipation for what the next panel brings. Dispatch made me feel like how I felt the very first time I read an X-Men comic book. This was not just a simple 360 experience this was a neo-noir cyber comic pop up book and I was the fly on the wall. I think of it as a popup book as it takes a flat medium and brings it to life in a unique way. Not a game but presence and true tension is created in the experience.
Here Be Dragons took something I thought was simple and then gave me an experience I have never had before. The closest thing I can describe it as is a living breathing comic book. The jagged simplicity of the art style somehow created a sense of tension and danger that I shared with the characters in Dispatch. Dispatch put me in the mind of the police dispatcher and made me feel that I was the dispatcher. The lack of interaction in the experience actually added a level of immersion as it made me feel just as helpless as the dispatcher in this tale. Here Be Dragons have created a new work of art in this still fresh medium through classic filmmaking techniques applied in a new way. One scene in particular in where the camera pans back while a very intense scene takes place made me fell as if I was actually walking backwards trying to get out of this intense moment.
Though the art style of Dispatch reminded me of the game Superhot it had the opposite effect on me. While Superhot made me think of it as a intense violence simulator that is not actually real the art style of Dispatch made me think of the things we do to mask the violence that is very real and present in the lives of many.
Dispatch is one of the most unique adventures in storytelling I have had the chance to experience. I suggest you check it out when it launches on Gear VR and Rift November 21.
Dispatch is written and directed by Edward Robles and features Martin Starr, Julianna Guill and Graham Shiels.
“We created Dispatch to embrace the most compelling elements of virtual reality to make the experience as dramatic and entertaining as possible,” said Robles. “With a gripping narrative, immersive audio, and strong visual cues, Dispatch gives the viewer an up-close experience with what first responders go through on a daily basis.”
Dispatch from Here Be Dragons is our OC4 CatsAndVR Best Of Show: VR Storytelling.