Friday, 28 October 2016

Horror Games on VR

Virtual reality is blowing up right now, and my tiny brain is blowing up right alongside it. We're one step closer to living out our lives in a virtual paradise (or nightmare), and I'm so ready. Until then, though, the various VR offerings — HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR (along with more entry-level systems) — are still in their infancy. 

PlayStation VR (PSVR) only launched on October 13th, and the other major players have yet to show off too many fully-realised VR experiences. Even so, the PSVR launched with a nice line-up of  titles and many more games have been announced for the future across all VR platforms. This includes titles from the horror genre, which VR is sure to make even scarier. 

Since it's that wonderful time again, when the smell of pumpkin spice floats on the breeze and the sound of witches cackling fills the night, let's run through a list of a few exciting horrors that have either been released, or are still in the works, for VR. 

VR Worlds: Into the Deep 

Platform: PSVR 
Release date: Out now
Synopsis: One experience of five that launched with PlayStation VR in a bundle known as VR Worlds. Into the Deep sees players plunged into the depths of the ocean in a cage. At first, it probably seems beautiful and awe-inspiring as you take in the sights of marine life around you in an endless blue sea, but things quickly take a nasty U-turn when a Great White shark aims its beady eyes in your direction.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

Platform: PSVR
Release date: Out now
Synopsis: An on-rails shooter set inside the same universe as one of my favourite teen-slasher games, Until Dawn, which I reviewed on its weekend of release. Though I'm not sure it will have the same impact as the game it is based on, it still features a creepy circus setting, jump-scares, and what appears to be a spiralling rollercoaster into insanity (with a few nods to Until Dawn and its characters, just for good measure). If nothing else, it looks like a fun time in a horror setting, and could be a perfect way to experience the genre up-close and personal for the first time. 

Here They Lie

Platform: PSVR 
Release date: Out now (digitally)
Synopsis: A true foray into a horror experience that was created with VR in mind, Here They Lie looks like a creepy combination of BioShock and We Happy Few, while adding a few of its own strange creatures into the mix. Frankly, a lot of details are still hidden in shadows and vague descriptions from the developers on PlayStation's blog do little to shine much light on them, but why ruin a terrifying mystery before playing it? 

Killing Floor: Incursion

Platform: Oculus Touch
Release date: TBC
Synopsis: Tripwire Interactive's gory Zed-splatting series is making its way to VR as an even more immersive shooter experience. I'm a big fan of Killing Floor 2, as I first found out when it went free-to-play for one weekend, and I can't wait for its heavy rock and heavier gore to explode onto VR. What I'm not looking forward to is seeing the spider Zeds with my own eyes... So many arms and legs. So many.

Resident Evil 7

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4, PSVR
Release date: January 24th 2017
Synopsis: Resident Evil is returning, and believe it or not, the majority of people are actually excited by what they see. In a post-PT world, where Silent Hills has already been cancelled after having changed the genre forever, Capcom seems to have finally take note of what gamers want. Resident Evil 7, as seen in my recent demo impressions, is first-person, cuts back the action, and actually delivers multiple tense moments that aren't centred around roid-rages and rock punching. With another completely new step for the series, the entire experience will also be playable in VR. I'm daring to be overly optimistic.


Platform: Steam, PSVR
Release date: Steam (Q4 2016), PSVR (TBC)
Synopsis: The upcoming debut title from Gattai Games, Stifled has players exploring the world around them using echo-location. It's an unique mechanic that lends itself nicely to the horrors of hide-and-seek, whereby players will have to make a sound in order to see the world around them, possibly alerting someone, or something, to their presence while doing so. You can check out my initial thoughts on the press demo here. Initially only planned for release on Steam, Stifled was also recently picked up as a perfect game for PSVR, which I can't help but agree on.


Platform: Steam, Oculus Rift
Release date: Q4 2016
Synopsis: Another debut title, this time from Honor Code Inc. Narcosis sees an industrial diver stranded at the bottom of the ocean in an intense survival horror, trying to make their way back to the surface before their "oxygen - and sanity -  give out." The developers describe the diving suit as a "walking coffin," which sounds like a great time to me, so I can't wait to see more. Further information can be found on the website, in case you're itching to get your scuba gear on.


And... I'm leaving it there for now. The horror genre on VR, much like virtual reality itself, is still learning the lay of the newly virtual land, but I'm certain that it is this genre that will see the most effective performance early on. I think we're all going to smash a few belongings while we get used to not running blindly around our living rooms, but when it comes to horror, I'm always happy to just buy new things.

Are you looking forward to VR, or are you not quite sure yet? Do you have a preferred VR platform in mind? Or maybe you know of some more upcoming VR horror titles that I haven't listed here?

Come and chat all about it with me on Twitter. We can be virtual buddies.

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