As my team and I step into the doors of VR World, we’re warmly greeted by co-founder and proverbial game master, Andy. VR World is a two-shophouse unit-wide space nestled within the hustle and bustle of Sago Street, its big, bold sign unmistakable.
Andy tells us that the place has been reserved for just the HYPE&STUFF team today—generous news for the four of us who eagerly await the thrill of immersive gaming. Many will probably already be familiar with the realm of virtual reality (VR). Perhaps you’ve recently caught Ready Player One or have binged one too many episodes of Netflix’s Black Mirror. Either way, it’s undeniable that VR is where the future of gaming is headed, as Andy points out, and cites as the reason for starting VR World in the first place.
We tuck and lock our belongings safely in the lockers and waste no time in getting started on the real action. We’re brought to the group gaming arena that spans across about half the entire floor, where Andy patiently walks us through using the Oculus Rift—one of the latest VR technology currently in the market.
Known for their unique escape room-themed VR experiences, VR World boasts three popular Ubisoft escape games. Andy launches the beginner’s level Escape the Lost Pyramid to get us started—so, no pressure.
It’s hard to convey the thrills of Escape the Lost Pyramid without giving away any hints or spoilers, but I’ll try anyway.
Right from the get-go, the four of us find ourselves in a mysterious, Egyptian-themed, dimly lit room, separated from one another and hopelessly lost. As with all escape rooms, we must find clues, use our noggin’s, and solve puzzles to advance further in the game—all in the name of eventual sweet, sweet victory.
What starts as a silent game gradually escalates into screams and shouts as we scramble to communicate with one another, all while strapped to our Oculus Rifts. Luckily, the in-built audio pieces on our headsets capture and project our voices to one another, though you might want to avoid facing one another directly to keep the feedback to a minimum.
Multiple roadblocks later, we soon realise that we’re going to have to think outside the box and cooperate if we’re going to make it out of the pyramid alive. This requires constant communication, critical thinking, and proactiveness—which just about makes for the perfect team-bonding activity (cohesion ideas, anyone?).
Being an acrophobe, let’s just say that there are portions of the game that require half dangling in midair and my anxiety is definitely not here for it. Pulsing sensations and vibrations on the Oculus joystick work in tandem to create a hyper-realistic experience that’s almost too lifelike for comfort. I feel sweat pooling around my palms as I struggle to muster up the courage for the next steps. I think that divulges all you need to know about how authentic the sensations within the VR experience are, and the extent of its allure that makes you forget that it’s all fiction, even if it’s just for those few moments.
The hour-long game is also a workout in itself, as I feel my biceps already start to burn with ache which is most definitely from the vigour of the game and not because I’ve skipped arms day for the past two weeks. The challenges have me squatting, sitting, and doing all sorts of stretching that keeps me on my toes and sends a strong signal—you never really know what’s coming nor what’s required of you next.
If you find yourself stuck and feel like you’ve exhausted every brain cell trying to crack the enigmas, raising both hands will send clues your way, highlighting hints on the screen that signal the answer to your next move. I’d strongly advise against doing that, however, because it takes the challenge and fun out of problem-solving as a team.
Eventually, after finally putting our heads together and lots of trial and error, we emerge victorious and retrieve the missing artefact that we’ve been tasked to find at the beginning of the game. It’s a gym for both your physique and your mind through and through, and we’ve done it—but honey, we’ll never tell how. That’s for you to find out.
A much-needed water parade and some sighs of relief later, we’re back on our feet again albeit to try some arcade games this time. Those looking for some good ol’ zombie hunting will enjoy Arizona Sunshine, a first-person shooter (FPS) VR game set in an apocalyptic world.
Horror fans like me might opt for Affected: The Manor, an all-too-realistic walk through a haunted house that sends my colleague Nicole screaming and whimpering while the rest of us watch in true sadistic fashion.
Whether you’re hoping to bond over a shared virtual experience or are just here for some therapeutic me-time, VR World is definitely a place you can count on to forget the worries of real life for just a bit and throw yourself into a reality of your choice.
They are currently able to host up to a group of five for escape room games, single players for arcade games, and are looking to roll out new entertainment content such as VR racing. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of Escape the Lost Pyramid simply because its nature as a VR-based game allowed for the incorporation of elements such as height and mystic, which cannot be physically emulated in real life.
The marvel of how much technology can enhance life as we know it will continue to baffle me for years to come, and it’s exciting to consider the possibilities of gaming’s evolution. But for now, the VR experience still brims with promise and novelty. So the next time you’re looking for a unique way of passing the time, perhaps you’ll consider VR World as your choice of virtual entertainment.
Price: S$35 per pax per hour – arcade games; S$40 per pax – escape room
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