Is it still worth it?


I revisited Ayahuasca VR on Meta Quest: Is it still worth it?

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The PC VR experience Ayahuasca – Kosmik Journey is now available on Meta Quest. Four years on, is it still a worthwhile trip?

I wrote about Ayahuasca VR in early 2020 when I reviewed the VR experience on PC. A few weeks ago, the 360-degree movie made it to the Quest Store and is now running on a standalone headset for the first time. How does the Quest version compare, and is it still worth buying four years later?

Ayahuasca is the name of a psychedelic substance used by indigenous people in the Amazon during ceremonies and healing rituals. The eponymous VR film of is intended to simulate an ayahuasca trip, or more precisely Jan Kounen’s personal ayahuasca experience. The Dutch director has traveled to the Peruvian Amazon several times, where he participated in ayahuasca rituals with members of the Shipibo tribe. His intention is to use virtual reality to bring this sensual and spiritual experience to other people.

This is not your typical feel-good VR trip

Ayahuasca VR begins in the jungle at night. I sit across from a tribal shaman who introduces me to the ritual. The ayahuasca brew soon takes effect: as I listen to the shaman’s singing, the contours of reality blur and the visions begin. Here’s how I described the experience four years ago:

“At the very beginning, I am swallowed by a snake and burrow through its tubular body. In other places I feel like a tiny creature exploring living organs. Then I suddenly float through huge alien structures full of glowing serpents and fly towards light, filigree patterns and shapes. Later, I find myself deep underground in a tomb full of bones.”

Ayahuasca VR depicts a purification ritual and is not a rainbow-colored feel-good trip. With its depictions of insects, spiders, snakes, bodily channels, and skeletons, the VR movie can be disturbing to sensitive minds.

The VR experience also takes control of the camera here and there, literally and intentionally turning your head to create dizziness. Only toward the end does the experience become brighter, calmer, and more conciliatory.

There are better experiences than Ayahuasca VR

The Quest version doesn’t quite match the resolution and sharpness of the PC VR original, but it gets the job done. Aggressive fixed foveated rendering is used in some scenes, which degrades image quality at the edges of the field of view.

I’ve tried a few VR experiences of this type since my original Ayahuasca VR review, and I find that the VR movie hasn’t aged very well. Visually, it only stunned me in a few places, and I’m sure that’s not just due to the lower quality of the Quest version.

If you are not interested in Ayahuasca in particular and are looking for visually stunning high-res Quest experiences, I would recommend the meditation app Realms of Flow and the fractal film Recombination instead.

You can purchase Ayahuasca – Kosmik Journey for $5 in the App Lab or for $12 on Steam.

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