We demoed a ton of games last week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, each with distinct experiences, but nothing we’ve played was quite like TRAVR, a horror first-person shooter created specifically for the Omni virtual reality treadmill by Virtuix.
The Omni is a remarkable chunk of hardware. It’s an omnidirectional treadmill that essentially acts as a controller, detecting a player’s steps and processing them into a video game, now add the Oculus Rift and you’ve got yourself one of the most immersive virtual reality experiences to date.
"The Virtuix Omni is the first ever virtual reality treadmill that allows you to walk around in video games," said Chief Executive Officer of Virtuix Jan Goetgeluk in an interview with Examiner. "It's in essence an omnidirectional treadmill that enables you to walk, run and jump in 360 degrees and it puts your mind and your body into the video game."
Before stepping on the Omni, we first had to put on a special pair of shoes that were surprisingly comfortable. Once on the platform, a harness was attached to our waist and we were instructed to lean our weight forward and take our first step which immediately slipped back down the curved surface. We took another, then another, then one more. And soon enough, we were walking in place.
Time to put on the Oculus.
Virtuix first gave us a brief virtual tour of Amsterdam to get more accustomed to walking on the Omni. An Xbox 360 controller was placed in our hands, which, with the press of the A button, allowed us to snap photos of things we saw as we walked around. The demo didn’t last long -- about two minutes or so -- but that was just the warm up.
Seconds later, the Xbox 360 controller was replaced with a plastic gun. In moments we went from the lovely European city to the terrifying universe of TRAVR. Then a man appeared, our ally, who instructed us to follow him. He led us through a dark corridor. There were corpses everywhere, though they were barely visible through the darkness. We appeared to be on a space station, however that wasn’t exactly confirmed to us.
"[TRAVR] is optimized for virtual reality, for the Omni. [It's] a first-person shooter/action-horror game. Fairly intense, very immersive. It's one of our favorite VR experiences. And that will be shipped together with the Omni," Goetgeluk said.
We soon entered a big room with even more piles of bodies around us. But this room was different, we could hear something, but as we looked around we could only see more of the dead. Suddenly our ally was gone, and a ladies voice on our radio ordered us to get out of there. The exit was across the room. We were about to make a run for it, but it was too late. About a dozen zombie-like creatures appeared, and we pulled the trigger on our plastic assault rifle.
The gun wasn’t actually used to aim, just shoot. Aiming was handled by turning your head, with a little marker on the center of the screen to indicate where you’re shooting.
After we cleared the room we ran out the exit, which led us down to an even bigger room with a lady trapped in a large class container. She spoke to us, but we can’t quite remember what she said. Moments later the glass shatters and she vanishes. We quickly turn our body 180 degrees, facing the door, where the women reappears. We stop. And before we could figure out our next move she charges at us and we jump in fear.
The demo is over, and Omni’s employees are giggling at our reaction to the final moment while they remove the equipment.
Goetgeluk then informs us that we burned about 45 calories.