Image: Toast Interactive
Richie’s Plank Experience has received an update on Meta Quest that brings improved graphics and a mixed reality component.
The 2017 VR experience demonstrates the suggestive power of virtual reality like no other.
For those who have never heard of Richie’s Plank Experience: You enter an elevator at the base of a skyscraper that, after a short ride, opens to reveal a deep chasm in front of you. The challenge is to balance on a virtual wooden plank above the abyss.
The experience becomes even more mentally challenging when you place a real plank on the floor and feel the wood under your feet. The dimensions of the virtual plank can be adjusted to match the physical plank for maximum realism and fear factor.
Richie’s Plank Experience in 2023: Unspectacular, despite graphics update
This week, Richie’s Plank Experience received a free update that adds an atmospheric mixed reality component to the VR experience, projecting a virtual elevator into your physical surroundings. Once you enter the elevator, the rest of the experience takes place in virtual reality. It’s a more immersive introduction to the whole experience, but nothing earth-shattering, and there’s certainly room for improvement in the use of mixed reality.
The update comes with graphical improvements, including a higher resolution, reworked textures, and better lighting. I tried Richie’s Plank Experience for the first time on a standalone headset and was disappointed by how bland the elevator and city look in the new Meta Quest 3. There is also a blurry haze on textures that are not in close proximity.
The same goes for the Canyon’s Edge DLC, for which the studio charges $4 and which adds a single new environment inspired by the Rocky Mountains. The textures may look nicer, but they are marred by something that looks like an overly aggressive fixed foveated rendering.
Still effective, but too expensive by today’s standards
Despite its visual shortcomings, Richie’s Plank Experience serves its main purpose: it takes courage to balance on the wooden plank over the abyss, and it is good for demonstrating the power of virtual reality to your friends, or just to see their reaction.
The $15 price would have been fine in 2017, but it’s not today. Not to mention the overpriced DLC content. In addition to the plank experience, you can fly through the city and destroy missiles. Due to the rather rough city environment, this is not a particularly outstanding experience.
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