Square Enix revealed new details about their latest virtual reality experience Project Hikari, at New York Comic Con (NYCC) this past weekend. Project Hikari combines the experience of reading Japanese Manga with current VR technology for more immersive story-telling. The upcoming title takes the manga Tales of Wedding Rings into a VR format, using the original 2D art combined with black and white coloring. Scenes will be animated or static depending on the panel the reader is viewing.
At NYCC, project lead Kaei Sou stated, “‘we want to let the user to be able to step inside the manga stories.” He also displayed “a concept video, with two people reading a manga only to have it slowly take over the world and allow them entry into the story they were reading.”
Part of the technology that creates this unique VR experience comes from Unreal engine, which allows different sections of the manga panels to appear more 3D and expansive. Using Unreal engine also allowed the team to create parts of the in-game environment from scratch, because certain details wouldn’t have been available from the original 2D story.
The game will contain, “dialogue fully voiced in Japanese, but it’s also accompanied by comic speech bubbles in English,” so fans will be able to play the game even if they were unable to read the original Japanese version of the manga. Features will be available that slow down the pace of scenes and allow pausing at certain points. This gives players the option to have more of a slower, reading experience rather than an active and immersive experience if that is their preference. Square Enix hinted at the possibility of bringing more action-oriented titles into the VR manga format such as Full Metal Alchemist, if Tales of Wedding Rings VR is well received.
Project Hikari will be available on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but does not have an official release date at the moment.