The oddly and mysteriously titled “A Room Where Art Conceals” just launched on European and North American digital storefronts for PlayStation VR. A rather unique take on VR, is it worth picking up?
A Room Where Art Conceals actually launched about two years ago, but had only been available on Asian storefronts until now. Calling it a game is a bit misleading, as I think that an interactive art experience would be a better description. There are game-like elements to the experience, but the heart of it all lies with the famous works of art contained in it.
There’s a futuristic storyline behind it all as well, which revolves around (the appreciation of) art going missing in the distant future. You encounter a robot, and together you unlock several famous classics by Van Gogh, Money and Munch. Doing this involves solving a few simple puzzles, which rarely amount to more than “move this object from A to B” or “slide a few tiles around”. Puzzle enthusiasts needn’t apply, but it’s nice to have a few of these interactive and narrative elements on top of what is otherwise mostly a new way to experience classic art.
Once you unlock them, you get to experience works like “Starry Night”, “Water Lily” and “The Scream” in ways you probably never did before. Even to casual art followers like myself, these are iconic and easily recognized works. If you’re the type of tourist who will gladly jump into a museum to see these in real life, then you don’t need to be an art historian to appreciate this VR title.
What’s different about how these paintings come to life is that, through 360 degree video, the landscapes that are pictured can actually be traveled into, giving you a unique perspective on what we’ve so far only seen in a flat 2D form. It’s a very cool effect and worth experiencing as a creative use of virtual reality.
But while the main hallway indicates that more artists could and should be featured, only three of them are currently featured. This makes A Room Where Art Conceals low on content, so the experience is over in about an hour. Without the interactive/puzzle elements this would have been even shorter, but you can go back to the unlocked videos and replay them with additional narration.
Impressive though the experience of traveling “through” these paintings is, however, the PlayStation VR doesn’t fully do them justice with somewhat blurry visuals at times. And the optional audio narration that becomes available later is very interesting (like an audio guide at a museum), but sounds poorly recorded, almost as if an old tape was digitalized.
These are unfortunate mishaps, because if you enjoy the original works of art this is a very interesting way to experience them. It’s cheap so you might still want to do so if you’re a fan of the artists that are featured, but as a VR game you have better options.