The Matrix Awakens is going to sleep. Epic’s visually impressive tech demo (that’s also kind of a mini open-world action game) for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S will be delisted on July 9, the company announced via its website. If you’ve already added the game, which is free, to your game library, you can continue to download it past July 9.
In terms of visual fidelity, it’s easy to make a case that The Matrix Awakens is the most realistic-looking game available right now. First released last December, right around when the fourth Matrix movie hit the big screen, The Matrix Awakens is ostensibly a showcase of Epic’s proprietary Unreal 5 game development engine. Though it’s just a brief sliver of quote-unquote “gameplay,” the demo approaches the textbook definition of photorealism.
Its in-game faces, including those of Matrix stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, are almost indistinguishable from the real people they’re based on. Walking through the streets of Megacity feels like walking through the financial district of any major American metropolis. You can futz with lighting. You can drive cars through urban highways (which, sadly for the citizens of Matrix-land, haven’t been demolished). You can even alter the population density. It’s not exactly heavy on “fun” gameplay—relying more on quick-time events than anything else—nor does it really tie into the broader Matrix story all that effectively, but it’s a stunning showcase of the next generation of fidelity in video games.
In April, during a “State of Unreal” livestream meant to mark the official full release of Unreal 5, Epic lifted the hood on what exactly is possible. To my untrained eye, it’s all very impressive stuff, inching video games closer and closer to the uncanny valley. And even though Matrix Awakens won’t be around much longer, we’ll get to see other, presumably fuller Unreal 5 games soon enough. The engine is being used for a number of big-budget tentpoles on the horizon, including new entries in Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider and CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher.