Developer / Publisher – Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture / DeerVR
Price – US $9.49 / CA $12.99 / EU €59.99 / UK £7.39 / AU $13.45
Release date – April 8th, 2020
Control Method – DS4 / 1 x Move Controller
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PSVR(PS4 Pro)
I always look forward to the next VR experience and while more often then not they are typically light on content or deliver more shallow content, I’m always curious to see what VR can give us beyond just gaming. A Room Where Art Conceals, originally released back in 2018 in Asian markets, has now seen worldwide release and looks to deliver a few classic paintings in a whole new way. Beyond just checking out the works of Van Gogh, Monet and Munch in VR settings, you can actually travel through them, changing through a few themes with some light puzzle solving thrown in as well as some educational tidbits.
With a DS4 or single Move controller you navigate menu’s and interact with items in the rooms that contain the paintings. All of this is done by pointing at an interactable items and pressing the trigger button and if you need to place that item anywhere, point and press the trigger again. There are 3 rooms to check out with each being focused on a single artists works though to go inside the painting you’ll have to fix or complete objects near the painting to do so. Typically, these tasks are little more then just moving an object from point A to B with the last room adding in slide block puzzles that are relatively easy save for the last one, which admittedly took me some time to complete. The rooms are locked until you have fully viewed all the previous rooms paintings so you’ll have to visit each artists works individually until you have seen them all whereupon you can revisit those rooms or visit the collection room which has all the paintings in 1 easy to view area. When you unlock a painting, it’s not actually 1 painting, but 3 separate ones that have been mixed into 1 360 animated video that transports you inside a modern artists 3D interpretation of those works. Emotions are central to each theme so as you view a work, you unlock that emotion. Each room has 3 different interpretations of the same art inspired by the original artists work so while you travel through the same painting again and again, there are enough artistic changes to make each viewing unique.
As this is all about the art, it better look good and that’s probably where this title takes the biggest hit. The rooms you visit look alright, not carrying a ton of detail but are more then serviceable, containing items associated with each artists and the individual paintings on which you’ll soon travel through. Once you solve each puzzle you can travel into that painting and are treated to beautiful recreations of those arts rendered in 3D. The problem is that 3D rendering isn’t in true 3D but 360 video and not in very high resolution at that, so while the visual spectacle of seeing these paintings in new medium is present, the loss in fidelity definitely hurts the overall package. That’s not to say it all looks awful, it looks fine enough but I can’t help but wonder what this would look like if it were optimised for higher resolution headsets. It’s pretty slick to see these singular images expanded into 3D environments and even seeing each rendering change based upon the emotion associated with it is also a treat and I commend the artist and team behind this title for their efforts. It’s a truly unique concept that I greatly appreciated, I just wish it look a little sharper at the very least and that it was in true 3D, though in truth, my brain sort of fills in those 3D gaps and on more then a few occasions I felt like the environments were actually 3D.
With emotion at the core of this game, each trip through a painting is accompanied by music fitting that the theme so whether it’s happiness, anger, sorrow or any other emotion in the game, the melodic instrumental tunes fit the visuals quite nicely. At the games onset you are greeted a floating robot who takes you through each room, relaying some facts about each artist and assists you in solving the puzzles by basically telling you what to do. For the most part he’s harmless and does a decent job at relaying facts but in the last puzzle in the game, when I had to slide 5 panels around in the proper order to unlock that final painting, he kept telling me over and over to do what I did the last time to move he blocks, which I was fully aware of, but until I solved it, he hounded me relentlessly.
There really isn’t too much else to address here and besides the issues I mentioned above, this delivers pretty much exactly what it promises. I wouldn’t have minded an option in here to let me enjoy all the paintings in 1 go or in a looping fashion as I think those looking for zen and chill VR experiences would appreciate something as unique as this. To get through all of the rooms wont take more then an hour though if you decide to rewatch the videos in the collections room, you have the additional option of watching with commentary on or off so if you are interested in more facts about each work of art, you get that too.
A Room Where Art conceals, despite its presentation issues still delivers an experience unlike any other and I would love to see what’s here improved upon or further expanded with more interpretations of classic works of art. As a guy who doesn’t really care to much about classic art as much as others do, this experience gave me a whole new appreciation for the works in the game.
What would I pay? This just shy of $10 US and even though it’s not true 3D VR, I still dug this, and I think anyone at all interested in this content will still be happy with what’s here for that price.
DeeVR provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!