Insurgent: Shatter Reality VR Short

Posted March 30, 2015 by in All

All Demos: ,

Best Part:

Facing the oncoming train

Worst Part:

Some wooden performances
Bottom Line

Technically equivalent to something like Senza Peso, but ultimately not as satisfying an experience.






Comfort Level


Total Score

4/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Insurgent: Shatter Reality is a VR short, co-produced by Kite & Lightning and Lionsgate films, to promote the movie Insurgent.

It uses a blend of Unreal engine CG and 3D video-capture of actors from the film, including Academy Award winner Kate Winslet. Kite & Lightning are quite practiced at this technique, as anyone who tried The Station or the spectacular Senza Peso, will know.

Taking place across three scenes, Shatter Reality provides ample visual spectacle but it doesn’t really work as a self-contained narrative. It is merely a teaser – which was no doubt the brief – but unfortunately this leaves it feeling a little stale overall. Of course, we can glean bits of information about the world and our situation from what characters tell us, but we’re simply not given enough to really ever feel that invested.

The video captured actors were some of the most captivating elements of previous Kite and lightning demos, but if anything Shatter Reality arguably leans on them too much. While it’s really nice to be around realistic looking characters, these are not Oscar-winning performances and the dialogue fails to engage.

You feel like your character is expected to have a greater grasp of what is going on than the dialogue ever affords you and sometimes what these people say is just downright confusing. You’ll be told that you’ve done well when it’s unclear if you’ve done anything it all. There is some light interaction, but you might only notice this after several playthroughs. Disorientation might well be the intent of the piece, but the upshot is that the sections that focus on characters talking at you tend to pull you out of the experience. I feel like more time observing characters interact with each other could have made for more believable scenes and provided a story of more substance.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. Senza Peso and The Station are widely praised, and rightly so, but neither made any pretence at being fully-formed stories. I think the problem is that Shatter Reality acts like it is telling a story, so when it fails to deliver on this front, the whole experience is undermined in spite of its accomplished visuals.

Now, credit where credit’s due, Shatter Reality is great to look at and has some thrilling moments that interestingly don’t relying on moving the player around. I can imagine that the murder of crows flying straight through your head could be discomforting for some – but it is undeniably exhilarating. Both the ruined city and train tracks are impressive sequences that do stand up to Kite and Lightning’s earlier work, although they are perhaps not quite as memorable as the giant head and river of lava from Senza Peso

Shatter Reality is another high production value experience from a studio that continues to prove itself a leading light in VR experience design. It is well worth your time as a spectacle, but the use of actors is ultimately disappointing; feeling more like a Command and Conquer cut-scene than a feature film. I’m still very much looking forward to seeing what this talented studio will produce next. I just hope their next project has a narrative ambition to match their evidently high production standards.

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About the Author


Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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