Just like you, and everybody else in the entire world (with the possible exception of Seth Rogen in the evenings), our day-to-day lives at the WEARVR offices are fast paced, chaotic and way too short to get all the stuff done.
Luckily, Nature Treks VR landed on our desks recently from Greener Games, and it’s turned out to be a perfect piece of VR escapism. So if you’re looking for a way to take a break, strap on your HMD and follow us into the deepest reaches of digital nature.
Playing With Paradise
Nature Treks VR offers you a choice between eight picturesque environments, all untouched by humanity and fresh with virtual life. The kinds of meadows that Julie Andrews used to run up and down singing about Do’s and Re’s and Me’s, and beach fronts so serene and spectacular you might expect to find Tom Hanks just around the shoreline, in deep discussion with a volleyball.
It’s not all about sunshine and sea, though. Nature is just as appealing in the winter, and at night, and during a rain storm, as Nature Treks VR makes abundantly clear.
“…be prepared to lose a good amount of time in contemplative creation when you [start designing] your own slice of natural paradise.”
As I played this today, the air hangs heavy in our office from the beginning assault of a claustrophobic city summer, and a stroll through snow covered woodland offered a delightfully refreshing escape.
A collection of controls encircle you, providing different options for manipulating these relaxing worlds. Two controllers (Vive, in my case) give you hands within the game, which pick up the rocks, trees, flora and fauna orbs that explode into creation as you casually dispense them about your surroundings.
This aspect of Nature Treks VR is superbly invigorating, which counterbalances the sedate, chill out elements perfectly. It imbues what would otherwise be an agreeable, yet passive stroll through greenery with an active, creative flare that keeps you inside these realistic, detailed locations a lot longer than you might otherwise entertain.
Indeed, be prepared to lose a good amount of time in contemplative creation when you start dabbling with designing your own slice of natural paradise.
So What Is It? Eco Gaming?
I’ve reviewed a huge number of games in my time, and few have proven quite so difficult to pigeonhole as Nature Treks VR. Is it even a game at all?
Having spent a few hours wandering its virtual underbrush, I feel like it probably is. But there’s no scoring, no specific objective, and no real challenges. Which means it likely isn’t a game at all then, doesn’t it?
“It’s a productive experience that deliberately achieves nothing.”
The truth is, once you’re “playing” (for want of a better word) the differentiation between an app, a game and an experience dissolves and becomes supremely unimportant. The point of Nature Treks VR is that there is no point. It’s the Bruce Lee of virtual reality; it paraphrases his “style of no style” to deliver the “game of no gameplay”, and it works beautifully.
You find yourself approaching it as a canvas (certainly not a blank canvas, mind you) on which to create your own work of naturalistic, organic art. There’s no finished piece at the end of it, but an environment where you’ve left a progressive mark, and that’s a very pleasant sentiment to enjoy. It’s not often we, as humans, get the chance to effect change in a natural landscape that doesn’t involve its rampant destruction.
All of which conspires to leave you feeling rather in touch with nature, and appreciative of a few minutes relaxation. It’s a productive experience that deliberately achieves nothing, and resets your awareness of your environment in an appealing, and dare I even say medicinal, manner.
It’s paradoxes like these that remind us why we’re in love with virtual reality in the first place.