The Grand Museum VR, from Owlgorithm, isn’t a game, as such, it’s an experience. Although, it’s one of the few ‘experiences’ which comes with its own set of trophies on PSN as experiences usually don’t come with any such as the Virry VR one I reviewed a while ago. It’s a fascinating trip through four distinct time periods within a virtual museum with more information than you could ever wish for on each and every piece on display. If you, or someone you know, loves history and would like to get up close and personal with items from the past, then you need to check this experience out.
However, there is a major flaw with The Grand Museum VR, one which could possibly be easily fixed. So, Let’s see what that is…
As stated above, The Grand Museum VR is quite in depth and a really cool virtual museum for you to browse. There are four periods included, ancient Greek & Roman, Egyptian, and Asian art pieces, as well as some post-classic era European art pieces. Each period containing 13-26 pieces in each. You’re given the choice of two ways to view the amazing art on display, either by taking a walk around the virtual museum or via choosing which period you wish to look at and choosing from eight of the main subjects in each. The European art is only in the virtual museum though.
If you chose the latter, as you jump into a certain subject, take Cleopatra for example, you’re presented with a literal wall of text to your left, this is a wall with a lot of text for you to read through which runs through background on the person/item as well as stories and quotes in some cases. To the right of the entrance is a real-life sized 3D scanned representation of the item in question. These look amazing. They’re so detailed and perfect, you really want to reach out and touch them as they look fantastic in VR.
As you move further away from the entrance, the same object is reproduced but at a much bigger scale. First around double, then double that, then it’s massive. Each one, regardless of size, looks perfectly textured and brilliantly scanned in.
For each exhibit you view, you’ll unlock a new trophy on PSN – so technically, you could 100% this experience within a matter of minutes, but should you read and admire the art, you could be in here for a few hours. Getting in and out of the exhibits is a bit fidgety as you have to enter a sphere of light in order to be transported around – lining this up was sometimes a little hard and required me to wiggle around a little until it picked up that I was actually at the exit point.
Once you’re done with the exhibits with the various sizes of the item and the wall of text, which is surprisingly easy to read in VR, even though it doesn’t appear to be using supersampling, you can enter the museum. This is where you can see the pieces of art at their real size as you move around the museum. I spent a while in here as I looked at everything, got in close, took a look at the art on the walls and just sat there for a while as a getaway from life for a few minutes.
This was one of the things Virry VR urged you to do – spend 10-15 minutes a day just sat there with the pleasant music on and take in the beauty that’s all around you. The Grand Museum VR doesn’t advise this but I can see it being used as a relaxation tool as the music is very calming and who wouldn’t want to just place themselves in front of a nice piece of art and relax for a few minutes a day?
Now we have to talk about The Grand Museum VR‘s elephant in the room – the controls. These need an overhaul as they currently ruin the experience for me. At the moment, you move around with head-teleportation – you look at the floor and press a button to teleport to that spot. You can move the right stick to change the direction you’re facing before you jump, but that didn’t always work for me. However, you’d think – teleport then rotate – easy! Well, no. Once you’ve teleported, unless you physically turn around, you can’t rotate on the spot – that’s the issue.
The developers should add two options, in my opinion:
1. The option to freely walk around with the Left stick to move and Right stick to turn – like standard games – so that you can walk around as normal and view things much easier.
2. At least add the option to rotate on the spot so you can teleport and then turn into position.
As it stands right now, the control method is very user unfriendly and causes issues as you try and move around and line yourself up correctly. I’ve heard recently about various institutes giving VR headsets to the disabled and patients in hospitals so they can move around freely and experience things they may not access too. As such, if these movement options were added then I would highly recommend that institutes like that grab The Grand Museum VR as it will allow the patients to visit museums and experience the art without leaving their house. Even house-bound disabled gamers would be able to easily appreciate the content on offer.
Right now though – head teleport with no way to rotate after moving will shut out certain people and do nothing but cause aggravation to people like myself who found it difficult to line themselves up properly.
I don’t think I’ve actually seen real pieces of art look this good within a game, nevermind VR. The process they have gone through to scan each one in is amazing. Once you pop on the VR headset, you’ll feel like the item is in front of you and regardless of how big the item gets, it’s still very detailed and must have been scanned in at a really high resolution. The music which plays as you enter each area is nice and relaxing and really fits with the whole calm, relaxing experience. Overall then, it’s a really nice package which is rather niche and is only let down by its terrible controls.
I enjoy these experiences, even though I will admit that I rarely go back to them once I’ve seen everything there is on offer. I’ve dived into The Grand Museum VR a few times since obtaining it for review, first of all I just looked around the museum, then I started looking at things and people I knew about, and finally, I went back and looked at everything for the trophies. The final time I must have spent about two hours in it though as I was reading about each of the pieces as well as just relaxing in the virtual world.
If I was to change two things, first I would fix the controls with the two options I put above. This would make The Grand Museum VR much more accessible and a bit more interactive. Secondly, I would add backdrops for the relevant periods/areas. For example, when you’re looking at Tutankhamun you’re in a pitch black room with the words floating on an invisible wall and the items are all hovering as well. Why not replace the black void with a 3d rendered desert with some pyramids in the background? If they offered three settings (which can be enabled or turned off), one for each period – then they could even add a relaxation mode, like in Virry VR, where you can just be placed within this environment with the music playing so you can meditate and relax.
I know the experience is the museum side and not for relaxation, but small additions like that would have people coming back more regularly and it would allow more people to experience it if they have issues using both hands or head-teleportation.
The Grand Museum VR contains the best virtual scans of real-life objects I’ve seen to date. As you move around the virtual museum, you’ll become fully immersed and believe you’re really there, looking at these priceless artifacts. Well, you would if you could easily walk around. The style of teleportation the developer has opted for ruins the experience in my opinion as it makes it a lot more fidgety then it should be for a relaxing experience.
If you love history or have a fascination with ancient artifacts, and also own a VR headset, then this is a no-brainer, you’ll love the visuals on display and all the information you gain for each item. If you’re just a regular gamer, then this may not be for you as it’s aimed more at those interested in the subject matter first. Although, it does have a bunch of trophies for you to obtain (but no platinum).
The Grand Museum VR£7.99
- The scanned in pieces of art look almost perfect in VR
- The music is a great fit for the experience
- Lots of information for each item if you wish to read it
- The virtual museum area is great to just sit and relax in
- The experience has trophies
- Movement is a pain as you can't rotate after moving and you're limited to head-teleportation
- The black void of each detailed area helps emphasis the item, but it would have been nice if it was themed
- Will only appeal to a limited number of people. However, if the controls are altered then I can see this being used more as a learning tool