Preview: Senza Peso on Oculus Rift DK2

This is not a stream of consciousness, it is a journey. The path has been laid out for you as it has other travellers, and yet it feels wholly yours. The beasts inside are only that of man and the tale being told is one you may have hoped you’d never hear, for entering this world means but one thing: you are no longer in the land of the living.

Senza Peso is a virtual construct that elegantly merges musicians with visual artists to create an experience unlike anything else. This is a step that had to be taken for virtual reality (VR) to mature as a medium, and yet no-one could have predicted it would happen so soon. Kite & Lightning have already developed themselves a reputation for being both prolific and progressive in the world of VR experiences, and Senza Peso was a shot in the arm to those attempting to follow in their footsteps: there’s no point redoing what’s gone before. This is a new medium, and the only way forward is to create something new within it.

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That was months ago, however. Kite & Lightning have undoubtedly moved on to their next project by now which, for a studio of only three team members, is both bold and symptomatic of their work ethic. In the meantime the team plans on launching the updated version of Senza Peso – compatible with the Oculus Rift DK2 head-mounted display (HMD) – to the public later this month. What changes does this bring? ‘Many’ is the short answer. There is no long answer that could accurately explain the true worth of this experience.

Of course the most immediate change is the high-definition (HD) screen. This immeasurably improves the visual quality of Senza Peso, as it does with most VR software products. Senza Peso is a beautiful, atmospheric journey that bears no comparison to other experiences. It’s unique in both it’s thematic and it’s aesthetic, and the higher resolution of the screen in a DK2 only heightens the sense of being in a different time and place, if only for a few minutes.

The positional tracking is the other headline act in the Oculus Rift DK2’s line-up, and here in Senza Peso it truly hammers home its worth. It’s not just about minimising simulator sickness or impressing the audience with it’s tracking technology; it’s about enhancing the experience. In Senza Peso, it does just this. From the parallax text on the menu screen to the ability to get in close with a seemingly sleep giant head, the Oculus Rift DK2 showcases the possible future of virtual presence immediately thanks to the unique combination of real-world properties and inspired aesthetic design championed by Kite & Lightning.

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There are minor issues, of course. Senza Peso was originally designed for an Oculus Rift DK1 which featured neither the HD screen nor positional tracking, and as such there are elements of the experience that might occasionally break the suspension-of-disbelief. For example, there are a few unsightly patches between textures which you’re unlikely to ever notice, but if you do the result is worsened by the HD visuals. Additionally, the pasted live action captures are essentially static images, and as such they don’t animate in relation to your position, simply zoom when moving your head in-and-out. These are mere blemishes on an otherwise wonderful experience however, and so can easily be overlooked for the obvious value of the greater goal that Senza Peso achieves on an Oculus Rift DK2.

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