World War 1 may have been called the ‘war to end all wars’ but as history has proven that was certainly not the case. Humanity isn’t always great at learning from past mistakes yet history should never be forgotten and what better way is there to bring the past alive than with VR. That’s what Flight School Studio, MWMi and Skywalker Sound have endeavoured to do with War Remains, a visceral portrayal of the conflict’s Western Front.
Originally created as a physical installation piece, War Remains is a historical experience plain and simple. There are no interactive moments over its approximately 15 minute run time, you just sit back and take in the onslaught of gunfire, shelling and screams as it switches between scenes.
There’s nothing gruesome or gory about War Remains, its not a horror experience. Instead trying to give viewers a glimpse into what it must have been like to stand in the trenches which littered Europe from 1914-18. As an educational title War Remains is presented by Hardcore History’s Dan Carlin, explaining some of the unique issues the conflict presented. Like the fact that early on French soldiers still wore red trousers and blue jackets from the 19th century, or how the endless bombardment of shells 24 hours a day for days, weeks, even months would drive men mad.
In a couple of segments Carlin reads descriptions from those who were there, noting how it was almost impossible to describe the environment and what was going on. All purely because of the hellish scenes that were unfolding in front of them.
It might be short but War Remains is a sobering experience, especially after a couple of viewings. Watching the soldiers jump out of the trenches trying to push forward, getting mown down by machinegun fire in the process or watching a hulking great tank trundle over the trench you’re nestled in provides some powerful imagery, even if it is computer generated.
Of course, having Skywalker Sound on board means that War Remains provides some thunderous audio. There’s also plenty of eerie details to catch if you listen, screams of those trying to fight a war which introduced new types of warfare like mustard gas.
What War Remains possibly portrays best is the use of VR as an educational tool for students old enough to watch it. VRFocus has seen plenty of excellent examples of educational apps utilising the technologies immersive qualities to help the teaching process and War Remains can easily be added to that list. For those studying the era, War Remains is one of those apps that can add weight to lessons, bestowing a better grasp of what happened.
After a couple of run-throughs, there’s little reason to step back in so it would have been nice to see more facts dropped in, the ability to select scenes or staying in them longer. In any case, if you’re a history buff then War Remains is worth a look as its cheap on Steam.