Emergence: Fractal Universe

3-star rating
Art, Creativity, Fractals, Uncommon
Comfortable, Stationary

Taking the world of fractals into three dimensions, Emergence: Fractal Universe surrounds you with incredibly intricate and other-worldly patterns rendered smoothly and quickly with only a modest computer. Configured by variables that you can change while you're in the experience, patterns transform around you as you adjust them at your whim. Using hand controls you can also fly around the world you've created, getting up close to complex arrangements or seeking different out different perspectives.

A fractal is an algorithmically derived repeating pattern of recursive geometric shapes that a mathematician or computer scientist could define far better than us. However, you don't need to hold an advanced degree in anything to appreciate these abstract results. Emergence offers ten mathematical models producing ten very different visual experiences that you can tweak into new shapes and configurations using the thumbsticks on your controllers. Switch between variables left/right and change values up/down (which we wish had finer control). To fly around, pull the trigger and you'll move in the direction that your head is facing.

Emergence unfortunately lacks polish and is clearly a labor of love by a single developer who's put all of his effort into the model and little of it into the user interface. Aside from the controls described above, there's a back button to return to the main menu and pressing the zero key will give you a high definition screenshot. Apparently there's also a musical soundtrack though but we couldn't find a way to get it playing.

One of an infinite number of intricate patterns you can craft in Emergence.

Exploring 3D fractals is a trippy eye-popping experience that can be a lot of fun and we're glad we checked this out. Thankfully we were able to experience this through the Viveport Infinity monthly subscription service as a $9.99 purchase price is more than we'd feel comfortable paying for this software. (Here's our growing list of Viveport Infinity experiences). More features may have made this more enjoyable. It's impressive to see visuals change as we adjust parameters manually, but we'd have loved to see a more dynamic mode that allowed the parameters and colors to drift and cycle while the hands-off viewer simply appreciates the spectacle.

If you're interested in how far the spectacle of fractals can be pushed with modern computers, check out Julius Horsthuis's work. Julius has published a Meta Quest app Recombination which at $35 is too pricey for us, but thankfully there's an excellent VR trailer that you can find by searching the Meta Quest TV app.

Note: There's another VR product named Emergence in the Steam store that simulates crowd behavior, features and unusual soundtrack and we'd regard as a something of an art project. Unfortunately we haven't been able to get the controls working, but we'll review this if ever we can figure it out.

A selection of visuals from the different Mandelbrot models.

✅ Very smooth real-time 3D fractal rendering.
✅ Produces great visuals.
❌ Lacking polish.
❌ Underdeveloped controls.

• Languages: English
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