I’m sure SoundSelf’s transfixing brand of synthy visuals is based on very, very thorough research from a lifetime of meditation and self-discovery. I am sure it is profound and learned in a way that many VR meditation apps may not be. And that is why it is my great shame to say that, to me, it felt like one big acid trip.
As repulsively uncultured as that may sound, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy elements of SoundSelf which, amazingly, is releasing today after passing a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. Lots of VR meditations experiences have come and gone since then, but this is a different kind of relaxation. Forget sitting crossed-legged, eyes closed in a virtual forest, SoundSelf has you lying on your back (not entirely comfortable with a Rift S halo strap), gazing up at the night sky. It is in itself a soothing sight, but the app teaches you to below deep, monotone noises from your mouth, which gradually have you ascend up into the ether. Check out 20 minutes of gameplay below.
From there, you’ll be subjugated to a relentless barrage of neon lighting, swirling and swimming around your view like a hazy mist. Again, using your voice influences the patterns you’ll see, prompting you to experiment a bit with different sounds and tones. And that’s pretty much it, the point being you’ll return here for a virtual escape every now and again. And I can see people doing that; the visuals, paired with an echoey distortion applied to your voice when picked up through your headset’s microphone produce a blanket of immersion unlike anything else I’ve seen in VR.
But I’ll confess that, while novel, this rotating wonder probably isn’t something I’ll be coming back to; at times I found it to be intensely dizzying and I’m not one to sit still for too long anyways. It’s also not too considerate of a meditation app if you’re self-isolating with people in the same room. But if you’re looking for a new way to meditate in VR, one that isn’t just playing your usual Spotify guided courses on a virtual beach, or, hey, maybe you’ve run out of your self-isolation stash, SoundSelf offers an intriguing alternative.
SoundSelf is out on PC VR headsets today.