And that was the point.
In the universe of FX’s Legion, what’s real and what’s a manifestation of an unstable dissociative-identity disorder is constantly being called into question. Even as a viewer, you’re always scratching your head trying to decipher what’s reality.
So when FX decided to bring an immersive experience like no other to Comic-Con, they didn’t go with the more common use of VR that we’ve grown accustom to in San Diego. Instead they had you questioning your sanity with mixed reality.
In collaboration with immersive studio Here Be Dragons, “Sessions: The Legion Mixed Reality Experience” starts you off by getting your IPD (interpupillary distance) measured for HoloLens calibration. That number is then written on a medical bracelet, where I quickly realize i’m supposed to be playing the role of lead character David Haller, a man with telekinetic and telepathic abilities who was diagnosed as schizophrenic at a young age.
I’m soon ushered to the door where I enter. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long wait, i’m finally greeted by people in white lab coats inside an all white hallway. When I walked in, I was the only one not playing as a committed actor on set, and was immediately asked questions like “Do you remember where you are?” “Do you know who you are?” A HoloLens gets put on my head, the uncomfortable strap squeezes my forehead and temples. It’s all quite distressing.
Then i’m moved to a tiny office attached to the hallway, a man sits in front of me at the desk. As I look around the dimly lit room, objects like a wall clock, painting, and stapler on a desk are glowing holograms. This is what the HoloLens adds to the experience, mixing holographic animation on top of real world objects. The man interrogating me is quite stern as I glance around the room, “Do you have trouble focusing?” he says.
I begin my testing session, where I hope to revisit a past memory, and examine the extent of my powers. There’s a storyline to this all, but again, so very confused. Eventually i’m asked to start testing my powers, which include levitating an object on the desk and teleporting a lamp. Finger pointing, pinching, dragging, i’m not sure if i’m doing it right. The HoloLens was extra difficult to move things with my mind. But I think that was part of the story, making me feel like I had to work at my abilities.
A technician sits off to the side behind me, obviously viewing the inside of my HoloLens to make sure that i’m not completely off track and likely signaling the actor sitting in front of me.
Now i hear a voice in my head. It’s David’s girlfriend, reiterating that the memory i’m experiencing isn’t what it seems. The man in front of me is telling me to do one thing, my girlfriend is telling me another thing—I freeze up. He grabs my hand and tells me I need to escape, evil things are coming at me, a hidden door opens, and i’m pushed into a completely different hallway. I get my photo taken at a photo booth, the headset comes off, and the experience is over. WTF just happened.
No photos were allowed, so all I have is my memory, and i’m really not sure what happened.
And maybe that’s the whole point. Creating a sense of confusion and chaos that made me feel like I was David Haller for the roughly 10-minutes in there.
I think I had fun, but I also know I was exhausted after everything was said and done. But I think I had fun. I’m not sure.
Since the experience was entirely based on live actors engaging with you, we likely won’t see this available for download any time soon. And if you were the lucky few to actually try it at Comic-Con, maybe now you’ll have more empathy for David Haller’s struggles when season 2 of Legion comes into focus.
Image Credit: FX & VRScout