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Preview: The Deep

Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) have presented two software demonstrations for the recently revealed Project Morpheus; The Deep and The Castle Demo. VRFocus will bring you a hands-on summary of both experiences in due course, but in the interest of continuity The Deep is up first as, for most people, this was the first title offered by SCE.

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Developed by London Studio, The Deep is an experiential piece of software that is unlikely to be made into a feature length videogame. However, given the polish on the title VRFocus would not be surprised if it was offered as part of a software package with the final release version of Project Morpheus, similar to the likes of Wii Play or Kinect Adventures. A simple, immediate experience that shows off what Project Morpheus can do: exactly what a brand new piece of hardware needs.

The player begins in a diving cage a metre or two below their boat. You can look around a full 360 degrees – above and below – and you can also pivot back-and-forth. Your view can include your entire body if you look down, however your feet are glued to the spot. There is no movement and no body tracking; it’s simply a representation of yourself in a virtual space. This is to be expected of course, as The Deep uses only the Project Morpheus headset and a DualShock 4 controller.

Using the PlayStation 4 camera, the control pad is tracked in space as a representation of your flare gun. The gun can be fired with R2 to either increase the light source (with varying effectiveness depending on where it lands) and also to disperse small groups of fish. There is a fifteen second recharge on the gun however, limiting it’s effectiveness. Of course, there are also other creatures in the sea, ones which may not be so easily scared.

Once the player has acclimatised to the presentation they are encouraged to dive lower. This is done simply by pressing the X button and is an automatic process: once pressed there is no stopping it. At this point, things dramatically change. The dive is sloe and steady at first, allowing you to take in your surroundings, but as you descend something bad happens. Your colleague comes on the radio (through your locally connected headset) and informs you that not all is well. Above you debris falls into the water, and suddenly your weight shifts as the cable holding you above breaks.

Deeper into the ocean only bad things can happen. A couple of minutes later you find yourself at the mercy of a beast not seen on land. The feedback delivered through visual, aural and the control pad creates a deep sense of immersion; the true essence of virtual reality. The Deep may not redefine what we expect from the technology, but it’s a wonderful example to offer those still confused by it’s potential.