Review: Ninja VR’s Weeping Angels app turns you into a slightly clumsy Time Lord
Pros: Free, great design, chapters by fans.
Cons: difficult maneuvering, lack of instruction, not a great opening menu.
The phrase "don't blink" should strike fear and excitement into the heart of every Doctor Who fans, so giving the Weeping Angels their own VR adaptation sounds like every Whovian's dream.
The mythology of the Weeping Angels is one of the most memorable storylines of the popular sci-fi series, where terrifying creatures in the form of stone angel statues attack you at a rapid speed on the condition that you're not looking at them. This feels like a perfect marriage with the Google Cardboard since the only thing a player can do with the Cardboard is look in different directions, which is why it's such a disappointment that Ninja VR's Weeping Angels is difficult to maneuver and much more frustrating than it is challenging.
You can download the game on iOS, Steam, or Google Play. Resonant with an early warning that "impressionable audience" members might want to rethink playing, the game is probably best for pre-teens and up. The player is given a few simple goals: fix cracks in the universe structure by looking at them and don't let the angels reach you by looking at them. The angels move closer when out of sight and can't be destroyed. The biggest flaw is that the game would have benefitted from some kind of tutorial, or even a short explanation of how you're supposed to accomplish these goals.
While "stare at the crack" and "don't look at the angel" are easy enough to do, I spent quite some time trying to figure out why I kept walking forward and backwards without doing anything. This led to dying several times before I realized that the game was moving me and I had to pivot to get to the right place. While this is an inevitable limitation of the Cardboard when you don't have a controller, this leads to a lot of frustrating situations where you're walking right into an angel and spending more time turning a bit to side instead of actual Time Lord-ing. It's slightly better in non-VR mode, where you move by making zoom-in and zoom-out motions, but not by a lot. While still not an amazing setup, knowing this going in would have saved a lot of time.
There's some really great potential in Weeping Angels. Ninja VR does a lot of amazing story work as well as design. The description boasts "particle effects, realtime lights and hi-detail 3d objects" and the stages are filled with engaging detail that made the difficult motions bearable in their gorgeousness. The music and angels themselves are eerie and capture the horror of the show. It's also a VR game that invites users to write chapters, with only the first three based on their stories. There's a submission page on their site here. This is clearly a game from and for fans, and as a result, there's a lot of love about it as well.
--Charline Jao, GearBrain's VR intern, last reviewed VR app, Valley of Fear. She's passionate about VR and how the technology is challenging the idea of narrative and filmmaking.