Our inner Star Wars fanboys pined for a chance to give the Trials on Tatooine VR demo a shot when news of the experience broke a couple months ago, but its creators suggested that the demo would never see a commercial release. Some time between then and now, somebody at ILMxLAB changed their mind and decided to make the demo a free download on Steam for Vive owners, available today. My inner five-year-old is eternally grateful.
The Star Wars theme and opening crawl will make the hairs on any fan's neck stand up, but it's all the more electrifying to actually stand in space and watch those iconic golden letters tell the tale of the five or so minutes to come. In this brief vignette, "you" are a Jedi padawan training on Tatooine, and Han Solo and crew have a special delivery for you.
Despite its short runtime and rudimentary gameplay, Trials on Tatooine shows what VR experiences can be at their best. As one would expect from a joint Lucasfilm and ILM production, the folks behind Trials pack every moment with authenticity. Every sound and detail in this demo sucked me right into the Star Wars universe. I've had few thrills as strong as watching a life-size Millenium Falcon soar over my head and touch down. Fixing the ever-tempermental Falcon with one of the HTC Vive's wands turns into a slapstick affair that's at once a callback and a whole new experience than just watching a movie cast do their thing.
It's less thrilling to use a lightsaber to bat blaster bolts back at First Order stormtroopers with questionable accuracy, but I suppose I was cast as a Jedi-in-training. I can't really argue with the price of this demo, either. If you're a Star Wars fan who owns a Vive, try Trials on Tatooine as soon as possible. I can't wait to see what ILMxLAB does with a more fleshed-out VR experience.