In Tide's Fall, Meena is forced to grow up and confront profound issues with her family. We learn about the events that led to the dramatic opening sequence, and why her father -- up until that point a gruff-yet-caring figure -- might hold some responsibility. By the end of the episode, Meena is more adventurer than cloistered child, something you can tell from Vikander's performance alone. It's clear that Penrose has also matured as a storytelling team; there's even more detail around models and their facial expressions, which makes them seem more like Pixar characters.
You experience Arden's Wake as a passive observer. There's no controller interaction at all. Still, the film takes advantage of VR by letting you walk around and observe the action from any angle. When Meena and her father are in their adorable island home, you can peer inside and check out their furniture and family photos. When one of them goes outside, you could either take a step back to view the whole scene, or glimpse through a window while staying in the house. And if you don't feel like walking around, the film will also automatically adjust for a seated experience.
According to Eugene Chung, CEO and founder of Penrose (and also the writer and director of Tide's Fall), the studio has been steadily refining Arden's Wake since its debut last year. It's also more reliant on Maestro, Penrose's custom VR collaboration tool, for all of its projects. Fable Studio, another VR outfit filled with members of Oculus's Story Studio, has also committed to making its films in virtual reality. That's a trend we'll likely see from others working in this new medium. After all, it's hard to see and feel the impact of VR character and environmental changes if you're just staring at a flat 2D monitor.
While Penrose planned to make Arden's Wake available on all VR platforms last year, it ended up holding off its release. Chung says it'll take a while to prepare the experience for consumers, but he might have more news later this year. I hope so, because Arden's Wake deserves a wider audience than the film festival crowd.