Halloween has arrived, in all its spooky splendour. While many people will be out trick or treating or at a party or doing something social, at VRS we will be indulging in some of the best scary experiences in Virtual Reality. VR is a particularly great medium for horror, as a foreboding atmosphere and mounting tension and terror can envelop players and give them a fright unlike anything else. Here are five of our absolute favourites.
Resident Evil VII (Capcom, 2017, PSVR)
Resident Evil VII was the game for PSVR for quite a while, doubling usage time, bringing back the then-moribund Resi series and also succeeded in providing a genuinely unnerving and frightening time, something the series had struggled with. While obviously not the first “full” game to provide serious VR support, it was the first to do it effectively or without mods, and was if anything a statement of purpose that VR could be used for lengthy massive gameplay experiences, something that other developers would borrow from.
Its importance aside, it also helps that the game is utterly petrifying. While there are a couple of compromises, most notably the serious graphics downgrade that most PSVR games face and some quirks with how the narrative is presented in virtual reality, the fact remains that Resident Evil VII is an amazing blockbuster VR game and a properly scary blueprint for having your gory maggot-infested cake and eating it.
Wilson’s Heart (Twisted Pixel Games, 2017, Oculus Rift)
Wilson’s Heart is a bit of an oddity. It is currently a game exclusive to the Oculus Rift, it is black and white and rather than aiming for that kind of petrifying, genuinely unnerving experience like a lot of horror experiences in VR are, it is evoking a previous era of film right in front of your eyes. That is creating a world of 40s black and white horror, reminiscent of films like The Creature from the Black Lagoon or Bela Lugosi’s famous interpretation of Dracula.
It wears its pulpy horror influences on its sleeve, blurring the lines between cheesy and unnerving throughout the play time. It’s ultimately an interactive story that borrows heavily from the cheesy horror of old, adding in the usual array of item puzzles controlled rather effectively through Oculus Touch. Despite this tongue in cheek aesthetic however, Wilson’s Heart is a game that not only works really well in creating a particular atmosphere but can provide some campy scares to boot.
Alien Isolation (Mod) (Sega, 2014, Oculus Rift/HTC Vive)
This is a weird example as it is a mod of an existing game, which had a hidden VR mode for what was the VR headset du jour of the era, the Oculus Rift DK2. With the customer version of Rift as well as the HTC Vive now out, enterprising modders have been furiously working to restore the lost feature, and MotherVR was launched as an early alpha in August to give Vive and the consumer Rift a VR mode. This is probably the only way Alien Isolation could have possibly been scarier and more chilling without dumping a Xenomorph in your house.
While it has all the hallmarks of an alpha, like that the VR is only designed for seated mode, there are some issues with how readable the on screen text is, and some objects are placed a bit too close to your eyes, there is no denying how amazingly chilling Alien Isolation is in VR and it’s a must try if you have a strong stomach.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (Supermassive Games, 2016, PSVR)
Until Dawn was an interesting interactive slasher film on the PS4, and Supermassive Games’ first VR spin off of the series was a very fun, unnerving literal rollercoaster of a game. The premise is fairly simple, you ride a horror-themed rollercoaster through an amusement park, filled with pretty effective arcade shooting and some great gaudy over the top frights. It’s not exactly a subtle game, but given the subject matter doesn’t need to be, and its tackiness leads to some of the game’s most effective scares.
Arizona Sunshine (Vertigo Games, 2016, HTC Vive/Oculus Rift/Playstation VR)
Arizona Sunshine is among the first wave of VR games that tried to be a dedicated VR experience and more than just a test of the technology. By most regards it succeeded, and for a while it was almost a test bed for new ideas for room scale VR. Essentially a zombie horde type game, it tried to do a number of interesting things, having a full campaign mode that was available in bite-size enough chunks for most people to be able to stomach.
Arizona Sunshine also experimented in a few other ways, offering both blink teleportation and “artificial locomotion” to compromise between the people who suffer from motion sickness, so the only sickness inducing things come from within the game itself. Zombie games come in so many shapes and sizes, but Arizona Sunshine was the first to give you that claustrophobia and sense of oncoming dread as hordes of zombies approached and you reached for both weapons in your holsters.
Whatever you choose to do and however you choose to spend it, VRS hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!