What happens when you go from working at DreamWorks to building your own Dreams?
Having worked on movies like How to Train your Dragon, Bee Movie, and The Ant Bully, Tony Davidson the creator of Ethereon knows a thing or two about creating fantastical places that are rich and vibrant in character.
Tony’s partner on Ethereon, David Valdez, is a 3D artist and also an ex DreamWorks employee who has worked on seminal movies like The Matrix franchise, Shrek, and Toy Story 2. Between them both, they have a vast wealth of experience in computer graphics and animation that most game development studios can only dream of (pardon the pun).
With such experience, it’s hardly surprising that Ethereon - “a puzzle based exploration game created for the Oculus Rift “ - is one of the most beautiful and impressive digital environments available today. Currently, there are two playable demos available for Ethereon and both are very highly polished experiences in Virtual Reality that are well worth a visit.
The Gateway Alpha Demo
The first demo experience is Ethereon – The Gateway Alpha. As soon as you boot up the demo you are struck by the quality of the surroundings you are placed in. The sky is full of twinkling stars and strange planets, and they are set against a tranquil sea with its dark waters reflecting the night sky.
Flanking you are six pyramids which are all linked via footpaths, which lead to one larger pyramid in the center. Graphically this whole scene is very reminiscent of 1930’s art deco’s vision of Egypt and if you’ve ever had the chance to visit Disney’s Space Mountain Ride, Ethereon really gives that same sense of early sci-fi art that is very unusual but also very pretty.
For some reason when playing this first demo I kept being reminded of Luc Bessons movie The Fifth Element which starred Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich. The first fifteen minutes of the movie were set in Egypt at the turn of the century and this, mixed in with the movie’s Sci-Fi elements and secret doorways inside pyramids, has a very similar theme to Ethereon, which works fantastically well for setting an intriguing and unique tone in Virtual Reality.
Be warned that that puzzles in this first demo are devilishly difficult and can have you stumped for some time. But once you get into Tony’s mind-set, you will start to see a logic to the madness and get through the puzzles with relative ease.
The Aquatic Realm Teaser
The second demo available for Ethereon is The Aquatic Realm Teaser, which takes you under the murky waters of this alien world and places you inside an underwater glass tunnel where you have a short walk to a type of magical elevator. If you have ever wanted to explore the bottom of the trench from James Cameron’s The Abyss, this is as close as you can get without getting your feet wet.
As you walk through the tunnel, you will see strange yet familiar looking underwater creatures swimming around, with one very large animal passing right overhead. All the creatures look ghostly, as they give off translucent light similar to deep see animals here on earth.
This experience really shows off Ethereon’s developer skills, as the animations are extremely fluid and natural looking. The jelly fish, for example, seem so real and alive as they pulse along the depths of this strange ocean world.
Overall Ethereon is something that looks beautiful on a standard 2D screen, but it really has to be experienced in Virtual Reality to truly take in the full majesty of the creations Tony and the Ethereon team are developing.
Ethereon is currently listed on Kickstarter and seeking backing for further development. This is a very worthwhile project with talented individuals behind it. Both demos are available to download today on Ethereon’s Kickstarter page.
Watch a video review of the Ethereon: Aquatic Realm Teaser VR Demo:
Watch a video review of the Ethereon: The Gateway non-VR Demo:
Article by David Whelan
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