Four castaways find themselves marooned on a small island inhabited by crumbling stone colossi. They are forced to scale the island’s sole peak to avoid a slowly approaching tsunami.
Or rather, you are forced, for Ascenders is a virtual reality experience in which you and up to three others inhabit the characters. Developed by France’s Backlight, it was the sole vr project to be presented as a work in progress at the recently concluded Annecy Festival.
Backlight has been working in vr since 2014, which makes it a veteran by the standards of this field. It has a marked interest in interactive multiplayer experiences which resemble games more than films. In Ascenders, the players split into two teams which collaborate to reach the summit. The Backlight crew compared it an escape game in their presentation, but stressed that it has a contemplative aspect and a special mood created by the open landscapes.