How would you implement this effect from Control?

Hello RTVFX!!

I’m just getting started and I’m having trouble implementing this technique from Remedy’s Control. It looks like some kind of distortion shader with a mix of polar coordinates. How would you guys implement this effect? I’ve been stuck on this for like a whole day!

looks like refraction on round-ish mesh.
It would help if you told us what engine you are using, that way someone with experience with that engine might be able to give better pointers in case you need them.

You can achieve this in Unity with a texture/Normal map displacing the ViewPixel and a secondary transparancy map that acts as a mask.

Same in Unreal. You can spawn a translucent particle and use refraction on it (or use SceneColor and distort the UVs).
For the refraction you can either use a black/white texture (with a range from 0 → 1), then bring it into a range of -1 → 1 via. a ConstantBiasScale with -0.5 ; 2. Or you use a normal map-like distortion texture.
Then you can just put this on a particle that expands in size.
For the texture i’d use a soft ring (or only the top of the ring) similar to this: