Nanite Fulcrum Review – Stepping through the pages of a VR comic
From creator Bay Raitt and the Spiraloid Workshop Company comes the next step in the evolution of the graphic novel. With the help of indie game developer Dylan Fitterer (Audiosurf), the constraints of reality are lifted to present the first 3D Holographic Novel.
One of the first things I asked when I heard we were getting an HTC Vive for the house was “do they have VR comics?” I was expecting a flat-out “no”, but there actually are. And that’s how I found myself all kitted out with the headset and motion controllers, ready to read Nanite Fulcrum.
The comic has been created by the Spiraloid Workshop Company with the Oculus Rift in mind, but you can play through it on the HTC Vive using the popular (and legal!) Revive software.
The comic has you start off by putting on a headset and entering a room with a book floating in front of you. You can pick it up and set it on a nearby desk and take a look around the environment. When you open the book you start into a sci-fi comic with decent art and a fairly simple storyline. As it stands neither artwork or writing would win any Eisners. However, that’s not really what this comic is here for. As you flick through the pages of the comic, and follow the story you find panels with glowing blue outlines. You can literally step into the panel, by bringing the book to your head and stepping through.
There isn’t a huge amount of interaction available. Instead you get the ability to further explore the environments depicted, and to grab glowing balls of light to illuminate the area and go look at characters as 3D rendered models. However sceptical, there was a sense of childlike wonder at stepping into the pages of a book. And when you’re done gawping at each area, you can easily step back out of the book and return to reading the story. As you see each area, you gather collectable models that you can place on pedestals in the desk room.
In a further demonstration of what may be possible for the genre, the climactic sequence of the comic involves a mini game where you need to catch bullets with “lightning spiders”. It remains quite a gentle introduction to virtual reality, though, as it’s interesting, non-competitive and hard to mess up – believe me, I tried.
The most interesting thing about Nanite Fulcrum, though, isn’t the comic or the experience itself, but the possibilities it presents. I know it’s unlikely any of the large comic publishers would really look into VR, as it would be an expensive add-on to the reading experience, but I would be delighted if they did.