‘Project Lux’ Creators Announce New VR Visual Novel ‘Spice & Wolf VR’

SpicyTails is the studio behind the popular VR visual novel experience Project LUX (2018). Today they announced a new VR story experience called Spice & Wolf VR, based on the manga and anime series Spice and Wolf, to be released in 2019. The new release will support all the major VR hardware.

SpicyTails, an indie studio which involves original series author Isuna Hasekura, says their newest VR project will also include the anime’s original Japanese voice actors. The production staff includes original author Tsukasa Okura, character design by Ju Ayakura, 3D modeling and motion by Keisuke Sakakibara, and voice actors Ami Koshimizu (Holo) and Jun Fukuyama (Kraft).

We don’t know a lot about the project itself, but the creators say it will be a lot like Project LUX, which might mean players will have the ability to choose their own pathways through the story, even to the point of having multiple possible endings.

Project LUX is currently available for HTC ViveOculus Rift, and Windows VR.  It features 65 minutes of total story, and includes localization for Japanese, English, and Chinese. It’s pretty popular, too, with an 89% positive rating on Steam and about the same on the Oculus Store.

Spice and WolfWhile gaming is one of the dominant uses of commercial VR, virtual reality storytelling is emerging as a surprising new genre. It’s sort of a blend between gaming and film making, and follows Star Trek’s “holodeck” concept very closely. You can stand there with the characters and be a part of the environment around you, able to walk around and view the events from all angles instead of being rooted to one spot, and move from scene to scene at your own pace.

While the current crop of VR headsets is good, the resolution so far isn’t so good that you can’t see the individual pixels if you stop and look for them. This makes cartoons and animated fare the best match for the display technology we currently have. Advances in VR technology are on their way.

We are poised on the threshold of virtual reality being the new preferred entertainment experience. Will it kill movies, television and Netflix? Of course not. The gear is always going to be for the reasonably affluent, in that only people who can afford something like a game console in their home will be able to buy a VR rig, so there will still be a massive market comprised of everybody else.

Within three years the quality gap will be closed, and the improvements in computing power and storage will allow the use of high resolution, realistic digital characters to create an immersive entertainment experience unlike anything that has ever existed before. That’s when virtual reality will start to push forward and, to a certain degree, displace television, movies, Blu-Ray, DVD and all the other visual distribution formats that came before. 

These are exciting times for both anime and manga fans and VR enthusiasts alike. What’s your favorite on VR right now? Share your comments.

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