by Henry Stockdale
reviewed on PC
One Hell Of A Trip
SoundSelf has been a long time coming for Kickstarter backers. Developed by Andromeda Entertainment, itís finally ready for release seven years later, beginning life as a Burning Man installation. Turned into a video game by Robin Arnott, it aims to recreate psychedelic therapies through a visually immersive experience, utilising Virtual Reality and removing the need for LSD. Itís certainly not a traditional game, limiting player interaction for a meditative experience but in doing so, itís nearly impossible to describe.
Before starting, itís advisable to dim the lights and use headphones, as SoundSelf will rely on microphone. VR is undoubtedly the optimal choice but if youíve not got a headset, Andromeda have given us the option to use your PC monitor instead. Once loaded, the game will advise on positioning yourself, suggesting you sit in a reclined position before letting you choose the session length (10-60 mins). As a disclaimer, anyone suffering with epilepsy should avoid this due to its bright, flashing colours.
A Unique Experience
What happens once you begin is the difficult part to explain. Youíll start under a featureless tree before SoundSelf takes you through some breathing exercises. Once you begin, youíll slowly ascend beyond the tree as you breathe and your psychedelic journey starts. Becoming surrounded by a colourful, ever-changing display that reacts in line with your voice, it feels like youíre about to break through the scenery but always fall short.
Navigating through strobing light tunnels and a series of impossible to describe shapes, it aims to place you in a deep, meditative trance. What happens next depends on who you ask as every instance is unique, so no two playthroughs will ever be alike. Itís an intense experience but a strangely relaxing one too and before I knew it, the 60 minute session was up. Once itís over, youíll return to the tree and close your eyes for 2 minutes before hearing a bell, allowing you to readjust to reality.
Impossible To Define
Andromeda Entertainment may have labelled this a video game but if I had to describe my time with it, itís intense meditation. Thereís no right or wrong way to play it but if youíre expecting traditional gameplay, youíre better off looking elsewhere as the only interactivity comes from speech. As such, it canít be rated like a normal game so to rate it traditionally would fall flat. Itís best experienced directly to understand but in my opinion, itís an experience worth having.
Note: The score given to this title is based on the meditative experience of SoundSelf, rather than our usual scoring based on fun during the gaming adventure
Relaxing experience, completely unique
Not to everyone's taste, not much in terms of actual gameplay