Step into an open-world, a virtual Island where you can interact with other players, choose a game and be transported to a zombie apocalypse, become a Painter in space and climb the ruins of a fallen world. The stuff you could never in your wildest imagination think would ever happen to you, Well now it can. The best VR experience in the UK “Otherworld” has finally arrived on Bennet’s Hill in Birmingham and it’s here to give you one of the coolest experiences of your life.
I wouldn’t say I am a massive gamer; I played Spyro and Crash growing up, have fond memories of playing “Abe” and making him fart all the time. Sims is a no-brainer, I feel like the whole world is addicted to The Sims, and I have spent many tireless but thrilling hours of my life, trying to turn my Sims into the next Hollyoaks soap opera. Love, Scandal, and Tragedy… boredom kicks in and you have to remove the ladder from the swimming pool enit?Now I seem to have developed a bit of a crush on Red Dead Redemption, but I wouldn’t say I am a full-time gamer, but I get why people love games. We get a massive thrill out of them and sometimes when life has been a little rough on us escaping reality for just an hour (or all day for many people) is just what we need. VR has become the next big thing in the gaming industry. I am seeing more and more of these experiences popping up and the latest VR experience to open in Birmingham is Otherworld. A futuristic VR experience, one that has a huge following and is greatly popular in London, so to choose Birmingham as their next location is a massive win for this City.
Upon arrival you will step into an episode of Black Mirror, a long room featuring spacious seating and table areas, projector walls, a departure board (very much like you see at the airport) and a self-service bar featuring beers and cocktails that you pour. We sat down and one of the staff members sat with us and explained the whole concept and how we play the games. “You won’t have ever experienced this” I was intrigued straight away; I am always looking for something new and exciting and five minutes in, I felt like Otherworld was going to give me that. We never booked online so we had to do it there and then, so it took around five minutes to do. We waited around ten minutes and then we saw our names flicker onto the departures board and were advised that it’s time to depart for Otherworld. I made a quick dash to the bathroom which was psychedelic; neon lights, robotic toilets that you can control with a remote to spray your bum and dry it, a robotic voice telling you to relax and unwind, and I couldn’t help myself, I just thought I got to have a poo in here…Most relaxing toilet experience ever.
You walk down a couple of stairs, with the flashing otherworld logo in front of you and an A.I tanoy telling you about your journey…Bloody hell, they put some effort into this I said to James. I had to admit I was a bit nervous; I didn’t know what to expect but staff are great here and reassured me that I was going to be in for a good time…
A room full of pods, no photos allowed as they want this to remain a secret, I walked to my pod (You have to be in separate pods) and staff helped me with my equipment. I was told that if we are ever in trouble (get stuck in the game) that we can press a back button and help will come, Also there are VR helpers from London who listen in and are there to help you if you get stuck.
“Enjoy Otherworld” The pod doors shut and the floor started to vibrate and the screen went black, suddenly a palette of multi-colours opened up in front of me, I opened my eyes and indeed I was transported to Otherworld on top of a hill looking down at an Island. I looked to the right and could see James as (I think he was some kind of ninja) but what made me laugh is that he’s 6 ft 6 and it captured his height perfectly as I started to get a bad neck looking up at him all the time due to me being a 5 ft 1 shortarse. Moving the controllers up and down to run, we sprinted down to the Island…Its incredible. I could feel the heat of the sun on my face, bloody hell, don’t tell me you can catch a tan as well in this experience? Then in the winter section of the Island I almost nearly lost my bloody wig didn’t I!? as the winter winds blow through you so I legged it! Can you imagine them opening the pod to that image…
The games and adventures are spread out across the Islands (in four corners) organised by difficulty, Spring being the easiest and Winter being the most difficult. We could see other players with name tags floating around, one player floated up to James raising his fists and it was an intense stand-off between each other, I couldn’t help by shouting “Fight, IT’S A REAL FIGHT!”
People were throwing bunnies off each other and there is also a giant Ferris wheel you can ride. With an hour of gaming time it was straight to the games, Arizona Sunshine (Autumn) I was advised “It’s a bit like Call of Duty Zombies” well that’s me sold so we headed there together to play.
So in this game you have to team up with your friends and survive the Zombie Apocalypse, If you like scary VR games this one is for you and I think one of the chaps from London was very amused with my Brummie screams of “OH ITS CRAWLY FUCKER AND THIS ONE IS LIKE A BLOODY CREEPING JESUS” London interrupted a few times laughing and told me I had limited bullets so there was no need to be scared. Your based in the American South-West during a Zombie Apocalypse with nothing but guns in your hands, as the time went on it got harder and harder.
The next game was Half-life: Alyx this game took 15 YEARS to be made, and when you play it, you will see why. I don’t think I will ever experience anything like this in my life, so if you’re a gamer and want to be blown away, this is the game. You are humanity’s only chance for survival, Earth has been captured by an evil alien empire known as the combine. You are Alyx Vance, member of the anti-Combine resistance, on a mission to rescue your father. When you first enter the game, you are on top of a building looking out at a futuristic skyline with what only I can describe as a War of the worlds alien shooting down buildings. Straight away I feel myself falling into the realness of the game and I am looking around for clues. Words cannot describe how amazing this game is, every detail is just incredible for example tuning a radio and turning the wheel from one station to another and picking up items and standing on a ruined building hiding from aliens – This surpassed all my expectations of VR, I honestly don’t have the words and I know you want words from me but all I can say is, You need to try this immediantly.
Within 1 hour we played two games, we got lost in Half-life, but it was worth it. Throughout the games you pick up points which are exchanged for discounts on drinks or game time, this was proper cool, and I noticed as I was just walking round the Island or throwing bunny’s I would just pick up points. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and yes, the hour went pretty fast as we were enjoying ourselves so much. Stepping out the pods we were greeted by the staff who asked how was it? James was beaming “I need this in the flat, Like I NEED IT, I can’t describe how that felt” and me, I was speechless. I just couldn’t put in to words what I just experienced but I happily told the staff “I’m coming back next week”
The Departure lounge bar is made up of 16 tap self-serve drinks featuring Peroni, Asahi, Lucky Saint and Elephant riders and cocktails from Black Lines. We cashed in our dream coins from the games for discounts for the drinks and I got a very generous £4.50 discount off my cocktail so happy days! I love the concept of self-service, it did raise a few eyebrows at first when I saw the cocktails, I decided to go for the Spicy Margarita (£7.00) which I have to admit didn’t look much but damn, it had a satisfying kick to it.
Price wise – Prices start at £13 on weekdays obviously on weekends they are more expensive, but we paid around £27 for the two of us for one hour plus had one drink so just about £20 in which I think it’s an absolute bargain. You have to download the app to go here so I would recommend downloading before as you have to scan the codes on the bar and show the staff your code to get into the pods. I have to admit; this is one of my top experiences in Birmingham and I think Otherworld are onto something showing us a little glimpse of the future. Me and James came out thinking maybe one day the internet will be like that? I don’t know. Or maybe it’s gone to our heads, but we feel like anything is possible after that and what we do know that VR in the future will become a big part in everyone’s life.
An immersive and mind-bending VR experience, that will leave you speechless but craving for more. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy this, Otherworld is for everyone. Transport to Otherworld for an unforgettable experience as the minutes go on you begin to forget about your everyday life and be blown away by an captivating VR experience that would only exist in your dreams but is now reality. A huge win for Birmingham.