Trials on Tatooine Review

Blog Posts ,Random Musings ,Virtual Reality ,Vive
July 25, 2016

You all may have noticed a trend if you’ve been following my blog for a while: I’m a bit of a Star Wars fan.

Okay, that’s kind of putting it mildly. I’m actually a pretty big Star Wars fan, so when I heard that Trials on Tatooine was announced, I knew that it was a must-try for me. I noticed that the reviews on Steam were mostly positive, so I was a bit surprised when some folks suggested that I would be disappointed. Without knowing what I was really getting into, I popped on my Vive and set off to a galaxy far, far away.

It was nice that I didn’t have to leave my living room.

Right off the bat, the controls were a bit strange – you actually had to reach out and bop the holographic buttons in front of you to trigger events, which is a different approach to the normal point+trigger click, but there aren’t many options, so you don’t end up spending too much time on the menus. You have the option to change the quality (I went with high, running on a GTX 1080), setting audio to ‘headphones’ or ‘speakers’, and then the play button. When the experience begins, it’s with the typical Star Wars introduction that we all know and love, before moving into the main scene. Pay attention to how loud your volume settings are – this part seemed louder than the rest of the experience.

Trials on Tatooine takes place, as you (probably correctly) guessed, on Tatooine. After a short period of standing in the evening light, loud noises around you indicate that a space craft is incoming. I had a hard time figuring out where the sound was coming from (either the positional audio was off, or my headphones were on backwards) but that was the only part of the experience where the audio seemed to be incorrect, and the feeling passed quickly as the Millennium Falcon came into view and landed on top of me.

Seeing the scale of the iconic ship was a really awesome experience, in the most literal way. I just stood there gaping as R2-D2 came rolling down and Han asked me to fix up some of the ship parts before Imperial troops made their way down. An incoming T-4a brought in stormtroopers (can we take a minute to point out that this part might be a little inaccurate, given the low ranks of troopers? Yes? Great, thanks for indulging) and R2, on Han’s prompting, hands us over a lightsaber to fight off the baddies.

The pacing of the experience works really well, even given that it’s a relatively short piece. You ease in to the environment with an observational period, followed by a low-pressure task to become comfortable with interacting with the experience, followed by a “high pressure” fight scene where you battle off the worst of the Empire’s army. Frankly, I would probably have lost my shit if Vader was on that ship, but I can only imagine that over the next few years, more short experiences like Trials on Tatooine will follow from ILM and perhaps the infamous Dark Lord (my favorite character of all time) will make an appearance on a future Rogue One VR teaser. How sweet would that be?

Trials on Tatooine really brings a childhood world to life, and despite it being a short experience, it’s probably going to be my go-to for any Star Wars fans who visit and want to try out the Vive. It’s beautifully done, and the potential for how fictional universes can breathe new life into their IP is really wonderfully demonstrated. Overall, a definite 5/5 stars – a must-try if you have ever found yourself wanting to use the force.

Have you tried out Trials on Tatooine? What did you think? Too short, or promising potential? Let me know your feelings in the comments!

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