|Game experience: EXCELLENT
|Immersion||Puzzles and fight||Hosting|
|A unique immersion.
A gamemaster who acts like a movie director to personalize your experience.
No motion sickness.
100! I had to browse my archives and count a few times to be sure which escape game would be my 100th experience, and found it ironical that it would actually not be a classical escape game. Instead, it would be a unique ludic experience with escape-game-like features called “Incarna”.
Its creators describe it as lying at the intersection of several genres: virtual reality, escape room, and roleplaying. It originates in the childhood dreams of Jean-Noël Chiganne, who decided after high school to study virtual reality technology to realize them. A couple of years ago, he was joined by Tibor, who brought his tireless determination to make sure the project would concretize.
So, what is Incarna? This is the name of a company which has discovered the existence of a parallel universe. They keep their project secret for now, and are recruiting new explorers. You can find them currently in a secluded place, below a beautiful corporate space (to which they do not belong):
The game we played during 45 minutes is actually only the first chapter of the Incarna series: you might see it as a job interview (hence its name “The Training”), during which you will be sent into the parallel universe to prove your value, and be recognized as an official Incarna explorer.
To access this parallel reality, each of you will be provided a Vive HTC virtual reality mask, and two controllers (one for each hand); and you will be placed in your own 3m x 3m cell where you can move freely during the game. Tibor is very sensitive to motion sickness, and his first priority was to develop an experience totally immune to it; it seems that it was successful, as nobody in our group had the slightest hint of motion sickness. As usual in virtual reality games, a grid will appear when you are moving closer to a (real-world) wall to avoid hitting it – and the walls are also covered by fabric to protect you. Finally, you can move not only horizontally, but also vertically by squatting or even jumping (though I would not really recommend doing the latter, for safety reasons!) Sent into the virtual world, your first task will be to find your friends, and then learning the basics: moving, activating mechanisms, and fighting. Because yes, your adventure will also involve fighting! This is what makes Incarna a hybrid ludic object, which might be compared to a VR collaborative Zelda game – but much more immersive than any video game I’ve ever played!
The immersion is simply fantastic, and there is a touching poetic beauty in the universe and its characters. Activating mechanisms or trying to dodge an enemy, you will really feel perfectly immersed in this parallel universe. Remarkably for a product that was launched so recently (one month before we played it), there was no bug whatsoever during our whole experience.
The puzzles are relatively simple and nothing will make your brain melt, so you should not go there for the intellectual challenge. The difficulty lies more in the team coordination – and for us, in the fighting, as none of us are very active video gamers. If you’re a FPS pro, the fighting will certainly be a breeze for you – and most certainly a very pleasant one! I had already played a few VR games here and there, with some of the best hi-tech VR hardware, but the collaborative dimension brings something really unique here.
Tibor was very welcoming and explained with great details everything we needed to know. Note that the equipment is cleaned between two games, and they even ask you if you want it to be cleaned again in front of you. The gamemastering was very attentive, as they want to make each group live a unique, partially personalized experience; the gamemaster, here, could be compared to a movie director. This strengthens even further the immersion: at some point, the fate of the whole team was resting on my shoulders, and I have rarely felt so much responsibility in an escape game!
Overall, this was a fantastic experience that enters my Top in Paris, and I’m glad that my 100th escape experience would be such a unique one. Be aware that it is a bit more expansive than a classical escape game, which is understandable given the huge work and investments that have been put into it, as it appears from Tibor’s story.
The creators plan to extend this experience not only with future virtual reality episodes, but also to a whole alternate reality game – with some more interactions between the real and parallel worlds. As for me, I cannot wait to discover the next episodes!
Game tested in April 2018
An interview with its creator Jean-Noël Chiganne is available here (in French).