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March 10, 2017

The best mobile VR apps

VR on phones is as easy as pressing a button, but which experiences are worth your time?

By Joe Clark

Virtual Reality stands on the precipice of mainstream acceptance, new technological advances in recent years have brought VR into millions of homes across the globe. Huge companies such as Samsung, Sony, Facebook, and Google have all invested in the technology or produced their own headsets.

Analyst firm CCS Insight estimates that smartphone enabled headsets are expected to be the largest market and should see a meteoric rise in sales with 14 million units beings sold in 2017 and over 70 million by 2021. Dedicated VR platforms on the other hand, are expected to reach 22 million in 2021, which is an 800% increase over the next four years.

The problem with VR is that it’s hard to understand the medium without experiencing it and it’s harder still to help people to experience it. The inability to show VR on a traditional screen makes products hard to demonstrate and at such a high price, it’s unreasonable to think that people will purchase without trying it.

However, smartphone enabled VR, whilst limited, provides a perfect jumping on point. Simple headsets, such as Google Cardboard or Vizor, can be purchased for around £25 and unofficial cardboard viewers can be purchased for as low as 99p.

If you’re feeling curious about what VR can do then check out this list of the best VR apps for your smartphone.


1. InCell

VR app

InCell as a concept is not dissimilar from cult classic Inner Space (or Osmosis Jones as millennials call it) the player finds themselves shrunk down and placed in a retro futuristic pod inside a human body where they are forced to fight through all manner of nasty germs and infections.

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As you’ll find with the VR apps on this list, the functionality is pretty limited. With no proper input device besides the phones gyroscopic detection it’s impossible to relay complex commands. However, the beauty of handheld VR is its simplicity and that very much works to InCell’s benefit.

After a few minutes of leaning this way and that, trying to dodge a particularly mean looking influenza cell, you’ll get a much clearer understanding of what VR is all about, and maybe a bit of biological knowledge to boot.

The visuals are what you’d expect from a smartphone i.e. not breathtaking, but it has a strong aesthetic. However, the audio, if played with headphones, gives the whole experience a real sense of scale as you whizz through places you probably never wanted to see the inside of.

InCell is available on iOS and Android for free download.


2. Chair In A Room

VR App

Chair in a Room was recently upgraded and released for the HTC Vive, but the original mobile version still packs one spooky punch. The game starts with the player confined to the titular room alongside the titular chair, as you progress through a linear interactive story.

Armed with just a faulty flashlight that intermittently cuts out (this is a first person horror game after all, so why wouldn’t it?) the player has to look around the room at specific objects in order to progress a competently written horror story. No spoilers here though.

Where this game truly excels is in creating a richly tense atmosphere. The developer, Ryan Bousfield, made a deliberate move to shy away from typical horror ‘jump scares’ which have recently plagued the industry in the form of wannabe Youtube stars screaming at their computers, and instead focuses on much more psychological horror. By playing on your fear of what might happen rather than things actually happening, players will find themselves in a constant state of unease.

Whilst it’ll still make you jump, and scream, and generally look like a wally in front of anyone watching you as well, the long drawn out pauses between scares only heighten the tension as you constantly wonder when the lights will go out, or what ghastly visage will appear before you.

This is definitely one to play alone, both to heighten your enjoyment and save embarrassing yourself.

Chair in a Room is available on Android for free download.

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