Review: Allumette (PSVR Movie)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus
  • HTC Vive
  • Steam VR

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 None
  • PlayStation Move None
Title: Allumette
Format: PSN (1.84 GB)
Release Date: October 10, 2016
Studio: Penrose Studios
Original MSRP: Free
MPAA Rating: NR
A copy of this movie was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Eugene Chung, formerly of Pixar, founded Penrose Studios with the goal of becoming the Pixar of VR. The first step Penrose took into the world of interactive and immersive storytelling resulted in The Rose And I, which was released last year. In March of this year, they announced they had raised 8.5 million dollars in venture capital to continue to develop their own VR creation tools. All of that work has led to their newest movie, Allumette.

Allumette focuses on a little homeless girl in a city floating in the clouds and the tragic story of how she got there. The movie only runs about twenty minutes and has no dialogue, so there is little that can be said without spoiling major plot points.

The stop motion art style looks great set against the backdrop of the floating village. Although at times, it seemed a little off as it was moving at a different rate than how quickly I was looking around.

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The floating village surrounds the player, and more homes can be seen by looking over each shoulder. Penrose Studios created this immersive world, but used very little of it. The majority of the story takes place directly in front of the viewer.

While I wish Penrose had used more of the village, I understand why most of the action is directly in front. It’s probably not a good idea to constantly make viewers look over their shoulders or look to their sides for long periods of time. There has to be a better balance though. Better utilization of the whole space would make the experience more immersive.

While you will need a DualShock 4 to pause the movie, only the headset is required. The player can lean forward to zoom in on what they are looking at or lean to each side to get a better view of what is around the corner. At times, viewers will have to lean forward until their view is inside the ship or until they can see through a hole in the top of the ship.

I really enjoyed the movie overall but have a few minor complaints. Before you can start it, you’ll have to sit through a long loading time. It only has to load the one time, but it was long enough that even my wife commented on it.

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Twice the entire viewing area got really bright and turned white. Normally I would have just looked away, but because I was wearing the headset, I could not escape the brightness and it bothered my eyes some. Lastly, the city in the clouds felt empty. There were many homes but only in one scene were there more than a few people that you could see, and they were in the bottom corner.

Allumette is the second movie from Penrose in as many years. They are certainly a studio to keep an eye on as this new storytelling medium matures. Right now the creation tools are evolving so rapidly that it makes sense to put out a movie every year.

However, I would love to see what their creative collective minds could conceive if they worked on one project for two or three years. Multiple locations to explore? Multiple characters with diverging paths so you have to rewatch the movie a few times to see what happens with each character? Either way, I eagerly look forward to their next work.

Conclusion:
Allumette is a beautiful and tragic short story. The loading time and few flashes of blinding light are only minor annoyances that do not diminish what Penrose Studios accomplished. This not a movie you will watch over and over again but it’s definitely worth twenty minutes to watch it once. Best of all it’s FREE!. If you own a PS VR headset you have no reason not to see this for yourself.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the studio.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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