|TL/DR:||Decent, abeit simplistic and short VR documentary.|
Based on BBC News interviews with migrants, We Wait is a dramatised story transporting you to the heart of the refugee crisis. On a starlit beach in Turkey you meet a Syrian family about to embark on their second perilous attempt to cross the sea to Greece. In We Wait, Aardman’s experience in animation and storytelling comes together with the human stories uncovered by BBC News to make this look and feel radically different from any other documentary VR experience to date.
Upon loading I find myself on a beach, at night, among syrian refugees rendered in low polygon models (Like that default Dreamdeck scene that loads after installing the Rift). An introductory text is displayed in the night sky and soon after the refugees begin to tell their story.
The nearest characters discuss their plans of crossing from Turkey into Greece, their uncertainty of the smugglers showing up and their previous attempts of passage. At times I am transported away from the beach into these memories which are quite capably designed.
The only thing that somewhat bothers me is the style in which their story is told. It’s this strange combination of after-the-fact narration and in-the-middle-of-it presentation. The visuals make it clear that „I“ am supposed to be a fellow refugee but at the same time I am told a story like the „outsider“ that I actually am. Given the free nature and limited length of the episode I understand that doing it this way probably was the only way but as a gamer I would have strongly preferred a more immersive approach.
I believe that this is one of the most innovative applications of VR I’ve experienced so far. These tentative steps could give rise to an entirely new genre of documentary experiences once producers stop seeing this as a virtual movie and more of game. With a few pages from games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and 11bit’s This War of Mine these experiences could transform a mere telling of these stories into a re-living.
A little rough around the edges but given the nonexistant price tag and ok download size, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the continuation.