'His Dark Materials': US Android users are 'screaming and crying' over not being able to meet daemons via HBO app

'His Dark Materials': US Android users are 'screaming and crying' over not being able to meet daemons via HBO app
(HBO)

A large part of the appeal of 'His Dark Materials' has always been about the soul or the 'inner voice' manifesting as a daemon. Anyone passing into Lyra's world has this happen to them because of the properties of their world. This is what happens to Wil''s father who discovers he has an osprey as a daemon when he crosses from our world into Lyra's world. In the show, Andrew Scott plays Col. Parry and his osprey Sayan Kotor is voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in a casting sweet spot. 

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While we can't go into Lyra's world to discover our daemons, HBO has made it possible for US viewers to interact with their daemons through a self-care app – but only on iOS devices and the Apple Watch for now. In a trailer introducing the app to audiences, a question is asked: "Have you always wanted to meet your own daemon? Now is your chance".

'His Dark Materials' My Daemon official app, is available on the Apple App Store and is free to download. 

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Based on a series of personality test questions, the app creates each person's own personal and customized daemon. The AR app features "80 unique combinations of animal, personality, and coloration", all determined by this quiz you take when you first launch the app. The daemon created is an augmented-reality companion and a bit like how Pokemons 'appear' in the real world in 'Pokemon Go'. Your daemon will encourage you to "self-care" by suggesting various wellness activities -- from lighting a scented candle, watching a movie or going on a jog – depending on what it intuits about your state of physical and mental well-being through the day based on your interactions with it. The app detects everyday activity through Apple Health and Spotify, syncing with fitness, sleep and meditation apps. As users perform more wellness tasks, their daemon becomes happier and healthier. 

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In addition, you can also role play by completing a series of activities that are modeled on plotlines from the show and help you get into the shoes of characters like Iorek, Serafina Pekkala and Lee Scoresby. Besides using the daemons’ animations to interact with your surroundings, fans will also be able to share photos and videos of their daemon with friends. The app, a marketing tool used by HBO to hype the show in the US, was created using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 by Framestore, the creative studio behind the animated characters in the HBO series.   

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“It’s a really great opportunity to give users and fans of the show the opportunity to have a daemon companion that’s personalized to them,” said Christine Cattano, Framestore’s global head of VR. “And what better way to do that than on your phone, which is a constant companion to us all?” According to HBO’s vice president of program marketing, Emily Giannusa, the original plan was for “large, real-world activations.” But because of the pandemic, they settled for the wellness-oriented app that would “delight [fans] while they’re at home”.

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This is not the first collaboration between Framestore and HBO, beyond the visual effects for the actual “His Dark Materials” show. Framestore also collaborated with HBO to develop “Beyond the Wall,” a virtual reality experience tied to “Game of Thrones,” as well.

Since the launch of the game, it has racked up a 4.5 rating from users. Some users on the app store page have called it their "favorite game", while others wanted more interactive options petting their daemons. Others have warned that no matter how you answer the questions, there was a "50/50 chance of getting either a monkey or a chameleon". 

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Posted in the comments section of the app trailer, there are many Android users who have collectively expressed their disappointment about not being able to download the game. One user for instance said: "Omg. I've waited for something like this for over 20 years! Bring to android ASAP. Why deny so many fans, HBO?". Another fan, across the pond, commented: "Seeing this app: hyped screaming; Realising that it's not for android: screaming slowly turns to crying;  Realising that it's ALSO not available in the UK: sadder crying".

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'His Dark Materials' Season 2 airs on HBO on November 16 at 9 PM ET.

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