It’s not every day that you get to be a secret agent. But that’s what you are in for during an adventure-filled 20 minutes at Dreamscape’s latest immersive experience, MIB: First Assignment.
The virtual reality company, that has its UAE branch at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, has unveiled its latest location-based, free-roaming adventure, in which Men in Black fans get to channel Agent K and Agent D and go on a mission to save the planet. Well, not quite, but you do get to save cute intergalactic creatures, the Zarthanians, from their alien nemeses, the fearsome Octopoids.
Having already tried out Dreamscape’s existing adventures at Mall of the Emirates – the daring and immersive Curse of the Lost Pearl: A Magic Projector Adventure (featuring an Atlantis-like lost city, majestic landscapes and wild rollercoaster rides) and the deep-dive yet soaring experience of The Blu: Deep Rescue (a stunning underwater swim-with-the-whales outing) – MIB: First Assignment is more of a trippy, fast-paced and edge-of-your-seat thriller in comparison.
It’s a tough feat to match up to the previous two adventures, but MIB: First Assignment offers an entirely new interactive experience via a futuristic setting, complete with a train ride and free-fly on hoverbikes over cities and through galaxies before getting the loveable, glob-like alien Zarthanians home to safety.
The entire experience, from start to finish, takes about 35 minutes, including the gearing-up with trackers attached to your hands and feet, and strapping on the VR backpack and attached headset. You get to choose your game avatars, and once the headsets are on, are able to view yourself and your fellow agents (playing in batches of up to six people) in avatar mode.
Even though the characters and settings are rendered in graphics-like imagery, the VR experience feels almost unsettlingly real, with 3D surroundings, distance and perspective (we were even warned not to sit on the subway “seats” during the adventure) and very tactile sensations.
After taking the train to the MIB headquarters and the assignment briefing on the Zarthanian rescue mission – with plenty of wry, deprecating humour thrown in – the initial fly-out over the city even gets the physical G-forces right; it feels like you’re soaring at a great height and viewing the urban sprawl far below – not for the vertigo-prone.
During the experience, you stand and walk on a platform that moves to mimic the sensations of the vehicle or journey you are on. It has rails on all sides to hold on to if the motion is too much for you and to prevent you from walking off during the adventure, as I almost did but got bumped back in.
The rest of the experience is a high-octane rush through increasingly crazy-looking galaxies and scenarios (look out for the bulldog floating in outer space) while avoiding the evil, tentacled Octopoid attackers. Unlike traditional video games, there is no skill or manoeuvring required here, you just get to suit up, step on and enjoy, but it will take you out of your comfort zone and leave you wanting more. We also wish each adventure lasted longer than 20 minutes, which goes by quickly.
With all the recent talk of the Metaverse, where we may one day live, work and interact in a space that blends physical, virtual and augmented reality, VR game experiences like these offered by Dreamscape could be a perfect introduction to the brave new world we’re stepping into.
Tickets for MIB: First Assignment are Dh78.75 ($21.45) per person including VAT, with the experience open to those aged 10 and above. Dreamscape is located in Mall of the Emirates, Level 2, next to the Apple store. Bookings can be made at dreamscapeimmersive.com.