Eyes-on Impressions of SoundSelf for the Oculus Rift
One of the most innovative games to be shown off at the Indie Mini-Booth at this year’s PAX East was Robin Arnott’s Soundself, which is more of an experience than a traditional game. Inspired by an acid trip, Soundself is unlike any video game you’ve ever experienced, and when coupled with the virtual reality capabilities of the Oculus Rift, Soundself can take your mind on a meditative journey through your soul. Think of it as synthetic tripping without the fear of a brain stem drip.
While at PAX East I had the privilege to speak with Robin Arnott, SoundSelf’s artistic and out-of-the-box creator, to learn more about this unique game before I strapped it on my noggin. He’s very open about the experiences that led to this game’s creation, and he’s also quite passionate about the journey his game can take players on. The best way to explain SoundSelf’s premise is to read over its description as written by Robin:
“SoundSelf is the collision of centuries old meditation technology with the video game trance. Turn off the lights, amp up the volume, and use your voice to fall through an odyssey of light and body.”
Upon entering the world of SoundSelf through the eye’s of the Oculus Rift, I immediately was sold on its hypnotic visuals and meditative qualities. Don’t let the screenshots fool you; SoundSelf is not just a virtual reality music visualizer, in fact it’s as far from it as Pluto is to the Sun. The SoundSelf experience doesn’t feature traditional club music, or bass thumping dub step that you’d probably expect it too. This app isn’t for simulating a rave, but rather it’s for simulating a trip through the deepest folds of your grey matter.
SoundSelf plays on the neurological phenomena known as synesthesia, which is defined as “a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” This is achieved through the game’s use of intense brain melting sounds that resemble a non-singing track from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, and through the DMT inspired visualizations that react to your voice. While wearing the Oculus Rift, or just playing on a PC or Mac, SoundSelf will alter its visual state based on the chanting or humming sounds you make with your voice. Your voice also influences the deep buzzing sounds that compliment the game’s mesmerizing visuals, which fully immerses you in the experience; effectively leading you into a mediative trance that no other game can illicit.
This. Is. SoundSelf.
I spent close to 10-minutes inside my mind while playing SoundSelf, and found myself completely lost in the experience. In the middle of the crowded PAX East expo hall I couldn’t hear a single other soul outside of my own inner-voice, which speaks volumes about SoundSelf’s ability to take you on a journey through the maze that is your mind. While immersed in its virtual world I couldn’t help but be reminded of the intriguing DMT: The Spirit Molecule documentary that recounts the vivid trips through space and time that users of the natural occurring compound discussed. I felt waves of energy flowing through my mind, which translated to my body and told it to relax.
SoundSelf truly is an experience unlike any other game or application I’ve had the pleasure to demo. Arnott’s creativity is out of this world, and it shows in the game’s design and concept. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the wonders of hallucinogenic drugs, but were too afraid to experiment, SoundSelf is your drug-free ticket to witness the powers of your mind. If you plan on adopting the Oculus Rift, then you should definitely pre-order SoundSelf, because it has potential to be a powerful launch title for the VR headset, and accomplish the same wow-factor that Wii Sports achieved for Nintendo’s Wii console.
SoundSelf is currently available in an Alpha (playable without a Rift) state for early adopters, but it should officially release sometime this summer. Check out its website for more details.
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