HoloVista takes VR iPhone gaming to a beautifully surreal new high

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‘HoloVista’ debuted Wednesday on the iPhone App Store.
Use virtual reality to explore an opulent but very strange mansion in HoloVista.
Screenshot: Aconite

The drawback to virtual reality gaming on an iPhone is it requires players to look at the world through their handset’s screen. Rather than try to escape that limitation, the new VR game HoloVista embraces it.

The player takes on the role of a character who’s also looking at the world through their iPhone. But what they’re seeing is a strange mansion they’ve been asked to photograph.

HoloVista is, at its core, a found-object game. But there’s more to it than that. It’s 2020, so the player spends plenty of time on their character’s social media. It’s how the plot of the game unfolds.

The developer, Aconite, says the game asks players to:

“Explore a dreamlike mansion, photograph mysterious spaces, confront your deepest secrets and confess them online as Carmen, junior architect and new hire at an elusive firm. In a near-future social media world, you’re charged with photographing the inside of an opulent building — but beware: the house is getting to know you too, perhaps better than you know yourself.”

A launch trailer shows more of the beautiful-but-weird vibe the game deliberately creates:

The creators are trying to do more than just entertain people for a few minutes. “Our game still interrogates a lot of difficult things, like what it’s like to survive under capitalism and retain your authenticity while having this permanent record of everything you do forever on the internet, because you’re trying to also create a personal brand,” Nadya Lev, one of the co-directors from Aconite, told The Verge.

HoloVista is available now on the App Store for iPhone and iPad. It costs $4.99.