Can a videogame give you a sense of relaxtion, calm and peace? It’s not something often associated with gaming, whose most popular titles are shooters. The antithesis of AAA game design, SoundSelf is something else entirely. Designed to be “more than guided mediation” and “less than a handful of psilocybes,” SoundSelf well and truly works as advertised.
If you’d ever wondered if videogames and VR can take you to an altered state of consciousness, wonder no more. SoundSelf can and does. Putting aside the study which found that after 10 minutes; “players are reporting feelings of unity consciousness and disembodiment at levels similar to those observed in research with Psilocybin” and that “EEGs revealed similar patters as those who had taken psychedelics,” SoundSelf is a warm, embracing, calming experience.
I’ve ‘played’ SoundSelf a few times using a VR headset and each and every time, I feel the waves of calm wash over me. I feel my mind start to drift. I feel the heavy fog of drowsiness and I feel as though I’ve smoked a great big fatty.
It’s difficult to review SoundSelf as each individual person will have their own experience. However, the mechanics are the same. At the beginning of your session, you’re sitting at the base of a tree, looking up at the night sky. A voice guides you and directs you to ‘tone’ long and loud.
Essentially, you’re asked to go ‘ooh’ or ‘aah.’ And you do this over and over and over. And that is the only real mechanic in SoundSelf. As you tone, the game reacts and creates visuals and auditory responses. Your voice becomes all enveloping as it comes at your from all sides while lights and colours and shapes dance in front of you.
It’s really trippy. And, if I’m honest, I was pretty skeptical in the beginning. As I sat at my desk, with a VR headset and a headset on, going “ooh…ooh…ooh,” I sniggered and rolled my eyes, wondering how silly I must look.
But then something strange happened. The longer I ‘played,’ the less self-conscious and snarky I became and the more I gave into the experience. The more I let myself go, the better I felt and the deeper the feelings of well-being became.
There are a few options for playing SoundSelf. Mostly they limit the amount of time your session runs for. I’ve not tried anything longer than 20 minutes so far. I’ve not really needed or wanted more than that because it’s such a powerful experience.
The first time I played through a session, I finished, took my headset off and promptly fell asleep in my desk chair. Not for any other reason than SoundSelf had relaxed me so much, I simply drifted off.
Obviously, this isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not a fan of the feeling you get while stoned, then I’d probably steer clear. But, if you want to meditate, open your mind’s third eye and partake in some perfectly legal, digital psychedelics, then you needn’t look any further than SoundSelf.
It reveals the true power of both VR and the human mind and demonstrates that we’ve only really started to scratch the surface of what’s possible using VR technology. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the developers come up with next.
SoundSelf was reviewed on PC using a digital copy provided by the developer.
Game Title: SoundSelf