Developer / Publisher – Fountain Digital Labs
Price – US $19.99 / EU €28.49 / UK £23.99 / AU $42.95
Release Date – April 24th, 2018
Control Method – DS4
Play Type – Sitting
Pro Patch – No
Digital Only – Yes
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
The first Virry experience, Virry: Feel the Wild took us to Africa and let us get up close with a few select animal and added some light interaction, trivia and some calming scenery to help relax you and maybe boost your mood a little. Wild Encounters is that exact same experience all over again, only with new 360 videos to watch, with new questions and some new serenity spots where you can just sit back, relax and take in the sounds and sights.
With your DS4 you can navigate the circular menu and select options. During the videos you can look around in 360 and at the onset of each video you will be required to shake your controller to throw down some food. It’s all just carefully edited footage so there is no real interaction, just start a video, sit back and relax. Besides the animal videos is a serenity mode that takes you to 3 locations that offer a looping video of a scenic spot to some optional relaxing music.
The videos look alright though they are only 360, not 3D, so don’t expect to feel like you are really there. With that said, when a few animals get close, especially the elephants, it’s hard to deny just how close they do look and feel. The videos were filmed in 4K and then scaled down to the headset so while the videos have clarity on objects and animals up close, things get very blurry far away. Each video lasts a few minutes and typically you watch these animals interact with the food used to lure them into the camera’s view. Compared to the 1st Virry title, I found the videos to be slightly longer in Wild Encounters and offered more moments where the animals noticed and interacted with the camera, which was amusing.
As these videos are taken from live feeds, so too are the sounds. You do have optional commentary whereupon your female host will provide factoids and questions during the videos. The beauty spots have some relaxing music to accompany them so if you were looking just to chill in Africa for a bit and take in the sights, that option is here for you as well.
At the start of the experience, you will be asked to pick your current mood from a bunch of options. Later, you will be asked to reassess your mood and pick from the same options. The purpose of this is to showcase how calming and relaxing viewing these animals can be, but really wasn’t an option I cared for. Virry tracks your responses so answer honestly and you can see just how much your mood changes in a positive direction after watching the savanna wildlife.
Virry also offers live streams to capture the animals’ day and night activities but unfortunately these come at a cost. Included with your game purchase is 15 minutes of live streaming and after that you are required to donate to view more. The cost is quite low, only $3.50 a month but the live streams are only available in cinematic mode and may or may not actually feature any animals. As this is on reserve, the wildlife free roams and may not be anywhere near the cameras. If you try viewing at night time, Virry tells you this and offers up the live stream from the previous day which is great, but still plays out “live” so if nothing is going on when you turn it on, you just have to sit and wait. That’s fine for the live stream, but an option to fast-forward the previous days stream feels missed.
Every issue I brought up in the last game is still present here. The videos are still on the shorter side and once you have viewed them all, there is very little drive to come back to them again. The devs promote the game as a relaxing and meditative experience, but this really only applies to the beauty spots which unfortunately, don’t look that good in VR. That’s not to say the other videos aren’t relaxing, but they are just too short to really set any kind of tranquility before they end.
The core experience here will last you less than an hour but does offer some intriguing content. The live feeds are a good addition in theory, especially considering that donation goes to the reserve this is filmed at, but having cinematic mode as the only viewing option makes viewing these in VR dull. I liked the trivia bits, and when the animals got really in your face, but for me this was a one and done experience. That said if you have a few friends or family members that might be into the content presented in Virry, the highlight moments are great to share.
What would I pay? The first title sold for $10 and I stated if the content interested you, it may be worth the purchase. The same thing applies here which is unfortunate as the asking price is confusingly twice that. For that price I expected a lot more content then what was here. If you want this, wait for a sale.
Fountain Digital Labs provided The VR GRid with a review code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!