• By: Isabel Payne

Experience a New Reality at Colony VR

Ever wanted to explore coral reefs, paint in 3D, and protect your castle from invaders- all in the span of an hour? Recently OLM had the opportunity to check out Ottawa’s newest and coolest hangout in Little Italy, and try out a bunch of VR games and experiences on the HTC Vive. If you haven’t yet had the chance to check out Colony VR, we highly recommend you book yourself an hour or two there and check them out!

Virtual Reality has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years, with more companies releasing their own headsets, like the Vive by HTC and Valve, or the new PlayStation VR. However, while there are more options in the market for VR headsets, actually owning a decent set can still put a large hole in your wallet. Facebook’s Occulus Rift costs $849.99 on Amazon, while the Vive and its controllers will set you back well over a grand, and these prices don’t include the PC power you’ll need to run them. Now, Ottawa folks can try VR without the massive price tag, and experience amazing things like walking around Mars. 

Similar to a karaoke joint and based on the idea of a bee hive colony, the Colony VR space is divided up into six hexagonal green-screened spaces which you can rent by the hour to play with high-end VR tech either by yourself, or with a group of friends. Each space is large enough for you to actually walk around in virtual worlds using the HTC Vive. This availability of free movement helps their guests overcome the usual motion sickness which often accompanies VR headsets where users remain seated. It also brings the VR experience to a whole new level of awesome when you can physically dodge an alien attack or turn and light a flaming arrow on a torch next to you. My personal favourite was exploring underwater in a virtual reef where I could walk up to a sea anemone and watch as it reacts to a gentle poke, or wave my hands to chase away a school of curious fish when they got too close.

Currently, they have about fifteen games and experiences from Fruit Ninja to Long Bow Tower Defence. You can even rent out the entire space with an entire group to play virtual paintball against each other! Each game is thoroughly tested by Colony VR staff before they’re added to the lineup to avoid anything that might be overly glitchy or cause any motion sickness amongst guests. Virtual Reality, however, goes well beyond slicing fruit and shooting arrows. VR technology has been applied to bringing otherwise inaccessible places right to you. Like the coral reef adventure previously mentioned, we also had the opportunity to walk around an old English church in Derbyshire, England, and experience a beautiful story of Colosse that was being told all around us. You can even explore Mars, or take a walk around some (non-hostile) Portal turrets as they play you a fun tune. We also got to try our hands at art and paint in 3D which an incredible palette of colours and special effects.

Colony VR hopes to connect with local schools to help enhance children’s learning experiences by allowing them to unleash their creativity beyond pen and paper, or by bringing to life new places to explore. They also hope to work with local dev groups to build a space where Ottawa developers can test and share their creations with the community. You can check them out on Facebook and Twitter, or get a glimpse of our experience on Instagram below!