Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Somnai Review

I went to visit something I was pretty excited about on Sunday! Somnai just launched a couple of weeks ago and on a whim I decided to surprise my boyfriend and see what it was like.
There two things you should know before I get into it: 

1) I recently became really interested Virtual and Mixed Reality, after studying a short course at LCF on Trend Forecasting, (more about that another time) I did a lot of research and absolutely fell in love with it. So I feel like I have a good amount of knowledge on where it's currently at it terms of quality and the future of MR. 

2) I went to see The Drowned Man by PunchDrunk, twice in fact. So I have a pretty good idea of what the pinnacle of immersive theatre and entertainment looks like, it's incredible. If you know, you know. 

I'd read a few reviews before going (after buying tickets) so I felt like my expectations were lowered as i'd seen people complain on their Facebook page that the tech wasn't working for them and there were glitches. 

When we arrived it was a pretty inconspicuous building and we were ushered into a dark room to get our 'patient' number and hand in our bags. We were put into a group of 6 and all signed a waiver, which I thought was pretty extreme and actually made me quite nervous. 
Onto the experience, i'm not going to give it away, but there are about 4 rooms with tech to play with, mixed with waiting type rooms and corridors. I was blown away in the Mixed Reality room, it was my first time experiencing it and now I know why I've got so into researching it. My brain just can't compute that it's not real, so it really did take me to a different place and was absolutely beautiful. I'm not someone who has been big into gaming, but if this is the future of it, count me in.
An actress moved us around from room to room, I thought she was brilliant, she only broke character once very slightly when she took us into the wrong lift. I was impressed with how she guided us with headsets on and bought us all out of our shells. 

The storyline, as you will know if you've seen the marketing, was about sleep and a story of a young child being taken into the woods and dreamlike places. It was quite a difficult story to follow and felt like it was therefore very much hinged on the tech rather than the storyline and immersion, however the tech didn't disappoint.  

Half way through you have to decide which door to take, after being separated during a VR room myself and another girl decided to find out partners (I know, aren't we good!) which is when the scariness started to happen. I was genuinely very clammy and freaked out at some stages, which I think is partly the reason I enjoyed it so much. Pro-tip: take the right hand door!

The final VR room, a hospital, was a really great set, and the Mixed Reality aspect of it was quite believable if you kept still. If you do this with friends in the evening I imagine it's even better, the sound track is great! 

The smell fx were also particularly good, I think this had the biggest impact on me after the MR room - I was really aware of smell as I went to sleep the night after, I also had lucid dreams at the beginning of my sleep, so something worked!

The bar was beautiful, it could have done with a louder sound system and better wifi for downloading the app, but I was impressed with how well designed it was. Cocktails are £9.50 a pop which did feel quite steep.
Over all, it was a mixture of absolutely amazing and a slight feeling of overpriced, especially as it is billed as 90 minutes but the experience minus the bar was just over an hour. If the price was slightly lower, or there was a free drink thrown in to make sure you don't miss the AR, or an extra MR room, this would be a glowing review. 

Go for pre drinks before doing something else for a truly cool evening!

Things that you can do to have the best time: 
- Make sure you download the app before hand - the wifi isn't that great and if you don't download it you miss out on seeing your heart rate sky rocket
- Try going at night, I went in the middle of the day, I think going in the evening could make it a lot more exciting and realistic, it will also make the bar feel a lot cooler
- Go with a group of friends to make up the group of 6
- Go with people who haven't experienced VR or who haven't been to PunchDrunk - watching them experience it will be fun
- Go with a completely open mind and lower your expectations before hand 

Things Dotdotdot London could do to make it better:
- Another room before the end, even a tunnel with vfx to walk through would make a huge difference, the ending felt too abrupt 
- Non alcoholic and therefore cheaper drinks options to make sure people get the full experience
- Pump some good music through the bar 
- Add some clarity to the story line, even a task or something to remember that is needed at the end of the story
-  Add a couple of rooms to explore, it felt like a small place, but with a few extra rooms to explore it would be a much better balance between tech and immersive theatre

Enjoy and expect strange dreams! 


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by pipdig