I became emotional at the top of Mount Everest, which was a bit strange due to the fact that I had expended almost no effort to get there.
Everest VR isn’t a game in any way. There are no challenges and it’s impossible to fail. It’s technically possible not to finish if your fear of heights causes you to remove the HTC Vive headset, but that’s the only conceivable way you won’t reach the top.
You can experience all the sights and sounds of the $25 program in around 30-to-40 minutes. Everest VR isn’t even a narrative experience, not really. It doesn’t tell much of a story outside of giving you a tiny sense of what it’s like to summit Mount Everest.
"Everest VR is a powerful first introduction to VR, designed not as a conventional game but as an accessible experience that focuses on the strengths of VR to transport you to an impossible real world location," the official Steam page states. There’s not a good word for what this kind of thing is yet.
You’ll walk across chasms and climb ladders. You’ll listen to a conversation between two other climbers and then crawl into a tent. There is a "God Mode" that you unlock once you go through all the scenes that allows you to walk around a giant, stunning diorama of Mount Everest or crouch down to see details on the mountain. Each scene is introduced by a short voice-over monologue and a virtual reality flyby of the area you’re about to visit.
And it’s all effective at what it’s trying to do; you get a sense of the grandeur and sheer size of Everest. The views are amazing. My fear of heights kicked in multiple times, to the point where I had to pause and remind myself I was inside a simulation.
We think we have some idea of what Everest looks like or how it would feel to stand in these locations, but Everest VR actually delivers that sensation to the player. Reaching the top, listening to the short speech and enjoying the view felt like an accomplishment. I was seeing something relatively few people in a way that felt real, and that's an experience that can now be yours for $25.