Explore the streets of Madrid, Spain to uncover a family mystery in this interactive VR short film.
2021 has been an emotional rollercoaster for me, and I’m not just talking about the pandemic.
This year has featured the release of several VR experiences that left me, admittedly, feeling surprisingly teary-eyed, from Baobab Studios heart-breaking VR narrative poem, Namoo, to Felix & Paul’s jaw-dropping VR series, Space Explorers: The ISS Experience.
Madrid Noir is the latest addition to my ongoing list of tear-jerking VR experiences, offering an emotional and experiential two-part journey filled with mystery, intrigue, and plenty of adorable moments. Without giving away too much of the story, Madrid Noir is a 46-minute film noir adventure that has you following an inquisitive young girl named Lola as she works to uncover a deep mystery surrounding her shadowy uncle.
Joined by her trusty K-9 sidekick, she’ll explore the streets of Madrid, Spain’s capital, using only her wits in the hopes of unraveling the truth behind her uncle’s long nights and suspicious behavior.
“As artists, we were compelled to use this opportunity to dive deep into what makes stories relevant to us. There is a lot of CG wizardry in Madrid Noir, but at its core lies a small, yet universal story of a disconnected family. We pulled from our own experience to develop the character ́s personalities and conflicts, creating a young protagonist who struggles to understand her place in her uncle’s life and who is looking for an opportunity to prove herself,” said Project Director James A. Castillo.
“The only way to infuse the project with the heart, humor, and suspense that we needed was to use animation’s ability to suspend audiences’ disbelief. Films that are engaging no matter your age, such as the Wallace and Gromit or Pixar films are a particularly key influence on us as they manage to marry adventure and danger with a hysterically funny and charming sense of wit.”
The experience is told through a series of flashbacks combined with various interactive elements that do an excellent job at keeping you immersed in the simple, yet intriguing narrative. At one point in the story, you use your Touch controllers to operate a flashlight and shine a light on a hidden figure. In another, you scrounge through the uncles’ belongings in search of hidden clues that could help shed light on the situation. These moments are scattered perfectly throughout the story, offering just enough interactivity without overshadowing the characters or plot.
What I enjoyed about this form of storytelling the most was how seamless the transitions were between VR film and interactive experience. Every action you take as the “viewer” feels essential to the story, whether it be handing items to Lola and watching her reaction or using your camera to capture photos of the estranged uncle as he goes about his mysterious midnight strolls.
Madrid Noir was developed by Atlas V and NoGhost in collaboration with Oculus, Epic Games, Creative XR, and CNC and premiered during the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The experience is available now on Oculus Quest headsets for $8.99. Clocking in at roughly 46-minutes, this interactive VR adventure is 100% worth the price tag.
If the adorable visuals brought to life by Castillo—who most recently served as the character designer for the Netflix film Mitchell’s vs. The Machines—don’t do it for you, the intriguing narrative and interactive elements will.
For more information visit here.
Feature Image Credit: Atlas V, NoGhost