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Allumette, a VR short film about love and sacrifice

A heartfelt interactive story

Matt Leone has written about games for three decades, focusing on behind-the-scenes coverage of the industry, including books on Final Fantasy 7 and Street Fighter 2.

At the 2016 Game Developers Conference this week, Penrose Studios is showing Allumette, a virtual reality movie that looks like a cross between papercraft and claymation.

While the full film will run for approximately 20 minutes, the clip on display at GDC lasts less than five. In it, the viewer watches a grown woman and a child interact in a town floating in clouds. Part of it takes place in a small town and another part takes place inside an airship.

"It's a story about the infinite bond between a mother and an orphan child, and it's about the sacrifices that people have to make for the greater good, contrasted with the love that family members share for each other," says Penrose Studios CEO Eugene Chung.

Chung started Penrose after heading up Oculus Story Studio, and says the move came partially because he always wanted to build his own storytelling company, and partially because Facebook acquired Oculus.


"That changed the nature of the entire industry," he says. "And I stayed on for a while after the acquisition. [...] But as I saw the industry grow, I think what I thought was going to take 10 years got condensed into one."

Similar to the projects from Oculus Story Studio, Allumette will react based on how players interact with it, though Penrose is keeping most of how that works under wraps for the time being. In the demo I watched at GDC, the viewer could only look around and poke their head through walls to see what was happening in certain rooms.

Penrose recently announced that it raised $8.5 million in seed funding, giving the team enough breathing room to create other upcoming projects beyond Allumette, though it hasn't announced specifics on those. Chung says he formed the company to focus on storytelling in both virtual and augmented reality, and sees both as the team's focus for the future.

Allumette will be a launch title for PlayStation VR, and it's also headed to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, though Penrose has yet to announce timing for those versions.

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