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Reviews

HoloVista Review

Where reality fuses with tech to tell a human tale

HoloVista was a pleasant surprise. First of all, diving deeper into story element unlocks an engaging narrative, but more importantly, it’s a game for iOS, not usually a platform I cover.

So why write about a mobile game? It was the visuals; they caught my attention – like a showroom of high fashion and design, what platform the game was on didn’t matter. 

After a fast download, HoloVista, from Aconite, had its dedicated icon on my home screen ready to be explored. Without knowing anything about the game, I swiftly concluded that it was a showreel on AR technology. As you hold up your phone, the screen depicts an enchanting 3D world of elegance that gave the magnolia on my walls a kick in the teeth.

HoloVista Review – iOS

HoloVista - Bunny
Put the bunny down. Source: Screen capture

Then the tin foil hat way of thinking kicks in: is this an app that connects to a burglar database and highlights household items worth pinching? A complete waste of bandwidth on my part, still, I switched off the motion settings as the first time I played the game, I was sitting on my bed and doing a 360º to look around the screen was awkward, and instead opted for the touchscreen.

Why the 360º rotation? In HoloVista you play a young architect named Carmen who kickstarts the story with a job interview at a design company called Mesmer & Braid. The gameplay side of things is like Where’s Wally/Waldo? where you have to search a room for items such as a VHS tape, animal skulls, and The Virgin Mary, among others. 

Between each room, you will communicate with your sister and your friends via an Instagram-like app, uploading the images you’ve taken, encouraging them to add a comment. Life imitating art and vice versa, HoloVista starts superficial, from my perspective, as everything is judged of face value and a seemingly materialistic world.

There’s no doubt about it, the visuals are fantastic, and while it’s not an action-based game, the narrative starts to take a turn with deep-rooted psychological triggers that are at times compelling and engaging in that I tried to finish in one sitting. Despite its relatively short playthrough, it took me a couple of days in stages to finish, and this allowed me to savour the game more than rushing through it.

Visual Storytelling

Carmen is quite a complex character but very relatable, and the mature themes covered in the game have a great deal of weight and impact. If you’ve ever felt insignificant or know of someone going through an identity crisis of belonging, HoloVista may hit a few nerves. It’s approached sensitively, and even in the settings, there’s a heads up about the themes covered.

HoloVista - Filter
Apply a filter. Source: Screen capture

Carmen’s only real connection to the outside world is through her phone, her sister Inez being a rod to prop her up with each of her supposed failings, but in the five playable days in the game with your new employment, Carmen may have bitten off more than she can chew and her sister might not be able to save her this time.

Though I’ve touched on a few of the key themes, you need to play the game to experience the atmosphere and gorgeous presentation. There indeed were moments where I got the odd shiver, which can’t be captured in a write-up. While I’ve been playing mobile games since Snake on my Nokia 3210, I seldom touch them on my phone, but HoloVista has highlighted the potential for a unique experience worthy of your time.

Sure, this could translate to a console. Still, despite turning off the motion control initially, I bit the bullet and re-enable it, looking like a bit of a numpty when exploring Carmen’s world when sitting in my car, phone swinging about as if looking for a decent reception. I’m assuming that I looked that way because, at the time, I could care less as I was so engrossed in the moment. It probably wasn’t such a good idea looking at the screen when walking down the stairs, however.

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