Life Chronicles VR Experience
Photograph: Excurio MNHN
  • Things to do, Quirky events
  • Eclipso Centre, Stratford
  • Recommended

Review

Life Chronicles

3 out of 5 stars

A prehistoric-themed VR experience at Westfield Stratford

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Time Out says

What is the Life Chronicles experience?

I have roughly about the same experience of VR as I have of life in the SBS, and thus it’s difficult to feel at the absolute zenith of my critical powers when it comes to assessing this dinosaur-themed headset experience at Stratford Westfield.

But we all have to start somewhere, eh? London has rapidly filled up with virtual reality gaming experiences in the last few years, and there are two of them now available in the hallowed confines of Westfield Stratford. 

They take place at something called the Eclipso Centre, which is basically a large empty room in which we can physically wander while immersed in whichever virtual world we have paid to enter for 45 minutes. There are currently two available. ‘Horizon of Khufu’ is an exploration of Ancient Egypt. And then there’s the one I did, the blandly titled ‘Life Chronicles’, which is a trip back into various eras of prehistory. 

You and whoever you came with are grouped as a team: once you don the headsets your outlines are clearly defined and visible from a distance; those of participants not in your team are ghostly and only visible at short range (to stop you bumping into them). Both experiences take place in the same space simultaneously, with a total capacity of up to 30.

Is the virtual reality experience worth visiting?

‘Life Chronicles’ is good fun. Although it is absolutely not aggressively concerned with up to date scientific accuracy in its depiction of dinosaurs - it’s fairly light on feathers - it does present us with a beautifully realised series of 3D vistas and landscapes from throughout prehistory. They’re populated by an engaging, almost tactile looking series of creatures, from gigantic sea sponges to the greatest hits of the Cretaceous era to extinct relatives of humans.

We don’t have any real agency in the world, but the fact the space is so large and we do so much walking does really make one feel a part of it. There’s a reasonably fun plot to tie it all together as well: we are citizens of a future in which probes have been sent back through time to study the past; one malfunctions, catapulting us back through to the very dawn of Earth; fortunately it also did the same for a helpful scientist lady and a sassy robot possessed of near godlike powers (eg it can cloak us, shrink us, protect us from hostile environments and indeed shunt us through time).

I’m not sure that I as an adult actually found it more than a diverting novelty: it’s certainly not high art, and it’s unlikely to make you feel anything deep. But you know, I thought it was pretty cool and I enjoyed the experience of a proper VR world and not just titting around on somebody’s Oculus Rift for five minutes. The two children I’d brought alone certainly had a whale of a time. It’s definitely more than just an addendum to a shopping trip, but a decent trip out in its own right, a journey through time and space that should kill an afternoon most agreeably.

How to get tickets for Life Chronicles

Advance tickets are available online here. When we visited in the middle of half-term a couple of shoppers were trying their luck with a walk-up and were told there were no spaces free for a few hours, but we think it might have panned out differently later in the day.

Details

Address
Eclipso Centre
1 The Street
Westfield Stratford City
London
E20 1EJ
Transport:
tube/rail: Stratford
Price:
£21

Dates and times

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