Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
theBlu: Encounter is developed and published by Wevr and the company proclaims on its website that "We make brave VR." theBlu will be our 11th GPU-intensive title added to the HardOCP VR Leaderboardآ™ and requires the use of an HTC Vive system with a single motion controller and is available on Steam for $10. theBlu uses the Unity VR Engine. theBlu contains three separate underwater experiences; here is how Wevr describes these.
theBlu: is a deeply immersive VR series that allows audiences to experience the wonder and majesty of the ocean through different habitats and come face to face with some of the most awe inspiring species on the planet. The series, which is directed by Jake Rowell (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Superman Returns), has been designed as beautiful moments in passing or a collection of memories that powerfully tap into the vast potential of VR. The debut episode, featuring an incredible close encounter with an 80 foot whale, is already recognized as one the most iconic room scale VR experiences to date (a Sundance Film Festival 2016 selection). Additional episodes in this bundle take place on a teeming coral reef and in the very deepest region of the ocean.
For our purposes today, we are only using theBlu: Whale Encounter experience for our testing. After spending some quality time in theBlu's different environments, Whale Encounter is certainly the most GPU-intensive of the three.
As mentioned, theBlu is not a game, but rather a VR experience. You don't shoot anything, you don't move around, and you definitely don't have to worry about spawn campers. What you do certainly get the feeling of is being in diving gear at the bottom of the ocean. You can have this experience either seated or standing with your HTC Vive, and while the motion controller is not truly needed, you can interact a bit with the environment around you.
While Wevr was not shooting for photo realism with its graphical content, theBlu certainly contains some of the best graphics I have seen on the HTC Vive to date. The environments are absolutely stunning to simply look at. And considering that is about all you do, is look at stuff, it had better not suck, right?
theBlu has been in development for about two years. It could easily be said that theBlu is the "poster child" for consumer Virtual Reality. Whale Encounter has been shown to tech journalists since the beginning of 2015. It has been many peoples' first experience with VR, and for good measure. The experience, while only about 1.5 minutes long, is certainly compelling, engrossing, and truly gets across to the user exactly what VR can be, and possibly should be.
The grand scale of coming "face to face" with an 80 foot long Blue Whale is fascinating and very much puts you in the moment. I have had a lot of VR experiences in the past few months, many more than we write about here, and theBlu comes in very much towards the top in the "Making You Believe It" category.
The other two experiences contained in theBlu are Reef Migration and Luminous Abyss. All three experiences have their standout qualities, but Whale Encounter introduces you to the huge scale of the world that can be opened to you inside that little VR HMD.