Digital Domain’s Monkey King VR series (PlayStation VR review)

Monkey King
The dawning of VR has already engulfed both console and PC gaming for quite some time now. However, VR doesn’t seem to be just for gaming. Progressing forward, it looks to utilize the VR world for cinematic movies and shows. Enter Digital Domain‘s Monkey King VR. 

The Monkey King is a Westernized retelling of a monkey named Wukong from the old Chinese folk story of  Journey to the West. Some hardcore fans of the original story also know that the Japanese version of Wukong is Son Goku. (This is where the Dragon Ball series derives from. Minus the insane powering up of fireballs and destroying planets.)

Monkey King is separated into three fairly short episodes. With no spoilers, it shows the humble beginnings of Wukong and how he became an extraordinary fighter among the monks he trains with. He goes through the emotions of rejection, self-discovery, and acceptance all within the short span of these episodes. Wukong’s initial brash attitude is really well displayed in the early episodes. But it soon changes as dire situations occur in his life – especially to the people he cares about.

Art, Animation, and VR

The art and animation were cool, but there wasn’t anything about it that made it stand out. Although, for some reason, it kept making me think about an old PC game called Ecstatica when I was a kid. I’m really not sure why that kept popping up in my head.

Don’t expect an interactive experience, since Digital Domain wanted to focus on just storytelling. You’re literally plopped into the middle of the scenes as the episodes run their course. A great comparison for this would be if you were watching a Broadway play, but instead of sitting in the stands, your chair is plopped in the center of the stage amidst all the actors and characters. Then you attempt to make do with your surroundings by looking around you as the play goes on.

All of what I just stated would have been great if it was executed properly, but with the awkward cuts in the scenes and placing of characters all the way behind you, you have to make sure you’re sitting on a swivel chair in the center of a room. The VR chords kind of get in the way if you’re constantly trying to look around you for where the character is supposed to be.

Final Reaction

Digital Domain does great work on visual effects for Hollywood and commercials, however, I think this first step into the VR world with this style of platform needs some work. Please don’t make us have to completely turn our heads around if you’re going to cut to a different scene. The whole VR situation made it a little bulky at best.

The asking price to attain the first three episodes is set at $9.99. That would make it about $3.33 per episode, which I think is fair.

All in all, Monkey King is average. I’m also a fan of the Journey to the West storylines so I’m curious as to what else they have in store.

Rating: 3/5 Atoms

About author

Alger Alama
Alger Alama 318 posts

Highly sociable and having been entrenched in Nerd\Geekdom since he was a kid, Alger has seen it all. During his spare time he loves to go out clubbing, sing karaoke, and attend parties. This Nerd is no wallflower. He'll always greet you with a warm smile and a drink in hand.

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  • Kevyn Bradley Grams

    I find VR video viewing only reaches its true potential while standing. Turning, ducking, and moving around in the virtual space takes everything to another level. This was very true for Monkey King.

    Sadley, not all people are in condition to be able to stand and enjoy the content. I believe that allowing people to use the motion controllers to interact with these Real Time rendered Virtual stories while sitting, would all everyone to expereince the content as it was invisioned.

    This was a very nice start to what I hope will be many, many hours of high quality real time VR video. VR/AR are the future, and the most exciting thing happening in electronics right now, or IMO the last couple of decades.

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