Firebird: The Unfinished

3-star rating
PCVR, Link
Art, Music
Comfortable, Stationary

A glowing statue of two people in an embrace; on a pedestal in a museum.

Probably best known for their puzzle adventure game A Fisherman's Tale, Innerspace studio's earlier work includes two interactive VR dance experiences under the Firebird brand. The first was La Péri which is reviewed here, and the second is The Unfinished which features a story of two sculptors and an incomplete work.

This twenty minute ballet spectacle begins after a museum guard completes his security sweep. Statues in the museum annex begin to murmur and then to move. After a time an apparition of the artist comes into focus and begins to tell his tale. You're asked to pick up a hammer and chisel with the goal of 'releasing' an unfinished sculpture from a rough block of marble. The story unfolds for around fifteen minutes - including a change of location - as the experience builds towards a final dramatic ballet sequence.

The ballet sequences run for around five minutes of this performance. Graphical avatars are superbly presented and are based on the motion-capture of actual dancers. Combined with a pleasing visual style and graphical effects, the experience is impressive though we're not sure if this needs to be in virtual reality to get the most from it. In La Péri you feel immersed as you're positioned in the middle of the stage and the dancer's moves surround you, but in The Unfinished the dance only takes place in front of you and we're not convinced that a high definition TV viewing of a live dancer wouldn't work just as well.

A book open at a lectern, while you stand on a stage.
Narrated & illustrated book readings.

We also found the story to be on the weak side and the interactive chiseling sequences to be clumsy and mostly unnecessary. Further, whereas La Péri was built upon on a well regarded ballet composition by Paul Dukas, The Unfinished has no such cultural underpinnings and instead repurposes overly familiar sections of Holst's The Planets suite that feel out of place and a somewhat uninspired choice.

If dance is your thing then you should absolutely check out both episodes in this Firebird series, though with the understanding that the ballet sequences are brief. Others might want to check them out to satisfy their curiosity, however we don't consider The Unfinished to be a compelling experience in virtual reality.

Sculptors chiseling blocks of marble.
The story of The Unfinished is well illustrated.

✅ Spectacular but brief motion-capture ballet performances.
✅ Pleasing visual style and graphical effects.
❌ Underwhelming story and cultural underpinnings.
❌ Clumsy interactive elements.

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