This review was originally created in May 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
According to Wikipedia, a particle system is a technique in game physics, motion graphics, and computer graphics that uses a large number of very small sprites, 3D models, or other graphic objects to simulate certain kinds of “fuzzy” phenomena, which are otherwise very hard to reproduce with conventional rendering techniques. These are usually highly chaotic systems, natural phenomena, or processes caused by chemical reactions. Examples of such phenomena which are commonly replicated using particle systems include fire, explosions, smoke, moving water, sparks, falling leaves and rocks, clouds, fog, snow, dust, meteor tails, stars and galaxies, or abstract visual effects like glowing trails, magic spells, etc.
Inspired by the big bang, Singularity is one such physics-based particle system simulator that lets you interact with countless colorful particles to create glowing visual effects within an endless representation of the blackness of space.
Since this is an experience rather than a game, you can play it seated, standing, or room-scale. The high concept behind this title is that it’s an abstract and colorful representation of how gravity interacts with particles, and how the particles in turn interact with each other.
Singularity starts out simply enough, throwing an explosion of colorful particles at you that you’re then able to do with what you wish. You can throw, attract (Gather Particles), slow down (Slow Motion), or manipulate the gravity (Suspend Gravity) of these particles, which in turn creates constellation-like clusters and star-like collections. Using the features assigned to each motion controller is kind of like having two galactic paintbrushes.
Although mere colored dots, when set against the backdrop of inky black space, the particles look spectacular. Each of your manipulations is rewarded with a new type of glowing visual spectacle that can be paused at any time with the Suspend Gravity button. When you’re ready to create something else, use the Gather Particles button or buttons to attract some or all of the particles to your motion controller or controllers. Once gathered to your satisfaction, you can then release the Gather Particles button to let the particles dissipate, or you can use your motion controller to fling them throughout space. Using the Slow Motion button lets you enjoy a more leisurely flow of particles.
While there are no sound effects to accompany the particle manipulation, there is a single track of uplifting background music. Unfortunately, I was unable to get this music working on my test system, although I have seen no reports that my particular technical issue is a common one. Based on what I’ve heard from preview videos, however, the background music is a suitably uplifting and fitting backdrop to the creation of such spectacular visual art.
Although there’s not much to the Singularity experience, what’s there is a fun diversion from the more typical goal-oriented virtual reality play. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax a bit and simply enjoy the galactic scenery, whether you’re actively manipulating it or not.
Score: 3 out of 5