Syfy original series 'Halcyon' adds a VR dimension to its drama

The cable channel has partnered up with Samsung to create an original series with VR-only episodes.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read

The lines between virtual reality and the real world become blurred in "Halcyon", Syfy's original whodunnit.

The crime investigation series takes place in a future where VR has become part of our everyday lives. When a virtual-reality murder crosses over to the real world, detectives are left puzzled.

In between a run of 10 traditional episodes, which will be broadcast online and on Syfy, an additional five VR-only specials will be created for Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR. In these episodes you'll be able to hunt for clues, investigate the crime scene and listen in on the detectives' conversations. It's a pretty cool experience. The only downside is the point-and-click navigation, which can result in some slight disorientation when your position in the crime scene changes. The experience is immersive, so it feels strange to move around without physically moving.

If you don't have an Oculus Rift or Gear VR, the bad news is the VR episodes won't work with Google Cardboard or the HTC Vive. If you're afraid of missing out on the backstory on the VR-only episodes, fret not, as there will be a short recap of the prior VR episode before the normal one begins.

This isn't the first time a creator has gone online to tell part of their story. Alternate Reality Games, such as this one from the movie "A.I." have had players searching fake websites for clues to unravel a mystery. Some have even generated more buzz than the movies and series they were supposed to promote. Other examples include web-exclusive content such as "Battlestar Galatica: The Resistance" that ran as a series of teasers before the third season began. But this is probably the first time VR has been used to supplement a show.

Given that each normal episode is pretty short, you should be able to finish the entire series in one sitting. The only thing that could slow you down is that it can get quite hot wearing a Gear VR or Oculus Rift for long periods of time. That's a shame because, overheating aside, the best way to watch the series is to binge-watch all the episodes on a VR headset.

"Halcyon" premieres on September 22. The non-VR episodes are free to watch online. If you want to watch the full series, including the VR episodes, you'll need to download the Halcyon VR app. It'll cost you $10 (which converts to about £7.50 or AU$13) for the Samsung Gear VR or $5 (about £4 or AU$6.50) on the Oculus Store.