Skip to main content

Live the experience of Blade Runner with the free VR experience 'Memory Lab'

Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab Trailer
At the Oculus Connect expo in 2016, Oculus announced it had partnered with Warner Bros. to create a trilogy of virtual reality experiences set in the iconic world of Blade Runner 2049. Based on the sci-fi film directed by Denis Villenuve, the first experience, Replicant Pursuit,was released in July. In this program, you pilot a spinner through the streets of Los Angeles on a hunt for a rogue replicant.

The latest installment, created by Magnopus, is Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab. It was released on October 19, with a Gear VR version coming October 26. The free 25-minute experience (dubbed a “demo” by Oculus) is not much of a game, nor much of a film either, but it’s a fascinating look at the possibilities of the future of VR entertainment.

As a replicant Blade Runner, your job is to hunt down runaway replicants in service to the Wallace Corporation. It turns out you’re no Rick Deckard, as you accidentally kill a human, mistaking him for a replicant. As a result, you must return to the scene of the crime and erase all evidence of what occurred.

The game uses the Touch controllers for Rift, and it was photographed using Microsoft’s Holographic capture rig (but no cell phones).

Magnopus got designs and raw assets from the film production to create the realistic environments. Most of it was built from scratch, although developers  did use scans and photographs from the actual movie production. The entire project took about eight months to create.

In an interview with Venture Beat, executive producer at Magnopus Ben Grossman said they wanted to use live actors and create a new storyline to explore. “We tried to use new characters that weren’t in the film,” he said. “If someone saw the VR experience before they saw the movie, we wouldn’t be giving anything away.”

The experience is more cerebral in nature than many VR ventures, with a film noir detective feel to it. “In this case we wanted it to be more about exploration,” he explained. “We know that storytelling is a challenge in VR, but stories about exploring may be the new frontier.”

If you snagged a VR setup during the Summer of Rift promotion, this is a great way to experience the future of entertainment in this evolving technology, especially if you’re a fan of the films. “We were pretty happy about the level of faithfulness, both to the new movie and the old movie,” Grossman said.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Austin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mark’s first encounter with high-tech was a TRS-80. He spent 20 years working for Nintendo and Xbox as a writer and…
HTC aims to turn your carpool into a VR roller coaster
Hororide app shown with HTC VIVE Flow headset.

Boring carpool got you down? Road trips with the family turning your hair prematurely gray? Holoride and HTC might have just the solution to make you look forward to your daily commute, and to turn unruly passengers into quiescent drooling zombies. They intend to bring VR to your car.

More specifically, the concept they’re pitching involves XR (Extended Reality), which includes a wider selection of sci-fi goggle-based content than just VR. The tech being debuted today takes advantage of the new HTC Vive Flow VR headset, which Digital Trends mobile editor Ajay Kumar got to test out last fall. This device differs from your garden-variety VR headset in that it’s more like wearing a big pair of sunglasses.

Read more
Ridley Scott reveals show based on Blade Runner, gives update on Alien series
Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.

An Alien TV series was officially announced during Disney's Investor Day last year. Now, the original film's director, Ridley Scott, has revealed that another one of his iconic movies, Blade Runner, is also getting a television adaptation.

While speaking with BBC Radio 4's Today, Scott said, “We have already written the pilot for Blade Runner and the bible. So, we’re already presenting Blade Runner as a TV show, probably the first 10 hours. And then Alien is a similar thing. Alien is now being written, a pilot. And when you write a pilot for TV, you also have to write the history. So ... you have to write out the bible of what happened in those 10 hours.”

Read more
The future of immersive VR? ‘Chemical haptics’ applied to your skin
A woman in a VR headset holding her hands out.

VR headsets are currently able to simulate realistic environments to trick your brain into thinking it's actually there. But researchers at the University of Chicago are going a step further by simulating physical sensations using chemicals applied to your skin.

The implementation seems basic, but the results are fascinating and could provide a way to make VR even more immersive.

Read more