Heart-stopping 90 seconds of Game Of Thrones

A life-sized replica of the Iron Throne (left) takes centre stage for photo opportunities in Ion Orchard. Above: The writer with the virtual reality headset.
A life-sized replica of the Iron Throne (above) takes centre stage for photo opportunities in Ion Orchard.
A life-sized replica of the Iron Throne (left) takes centre stage for photo opportunities in Ion Orchard. Above: The writer with the virtual reality headset.
The writer with the virtual reality headset. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Virtual reality experience of hit drama is not for the faint of heart

Night gathers and now my watch begins.

Like a ranger of the Night's Watch in the hit HBO drama Game Of Thrones, I am locked in a winch elevator in Castle Black that takes me up more than 200m to the top of the eerie solid ice Wall, that separates the wildlings from the realm of the Seven Kingdoms.

The higher I get, the more I have to fight the urge to scream and/or grab the grilles of the booth for dear life.

Indeed, the heart-racing 90-second Game Of Thrones: Ascend The Wall virtual reality experience at Ion Orchard is so visceral, it comes with a warning. Fans are told to "participate at your own risk" and pregnant women and minors under 16 are barred from taking part.

It is developed by HBO and uses Facebook's virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. The graphics are by the Oscar-winning company Framestore, which was responsible for the mindblowing visual effects in Sandra Bullock's 2013 lost-in-space film Gravity.

The Ascend The Wall experience, which makes its Asian debut in Singapore, is open to the public for free. It runs from today to April 7, from 10am to 10pm.

For the experience, I wear a pair of headphones along with the headset, so I can hear the icy cold wind while the wind machines blow at me, making the already experience even more real.

Halfway through, I am tapped on the shoulder and guided to turn around. I am now at the top of the Wall, where I move down a snow-filled corridor, edging dangerously closer and closer to a wooden precipice. As I look around, all I see for miles on either side are the sheer cliff drops of the icy Wall. Willing myself not to look down is the hardest part.

A horn blasts - it is the harbinger of doom. Flaming arrows - possibly from the wildlings beyond the Wall - fly at me. One misses narrowly, but shortly after, one strikes, and I plummet to a white, wintery death as the screen goes white.

Ascend The Wall is undoubtedly the highlight of HBO Asia's The Game Of Thrones Experience: Worlds Of Westeros event to promote Game Of Thrones Season 6, which premieres on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601) on April 25 at 9am, the same time as in the United States.

Game Of Thrones' English actor Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran Stark, will make an appearance at the event today from 3pm.

A life-sized replica of the Iron Throne takes centre stage for photo opportunities, while an array of weapons from the show -including Brienne of Tarth's sword Oathkeeper and Arya Stark's Sword Needle - are also on display.

Along with original storyboards by artist Will Simpson, there is also a green screen set up for a mini video opportunity to fight Daenerys Targaryen's dragon Drogon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Heart-stopping 90 seconds of Game Of Thrones'. Print Edition | Subscribe