My first post in this years Frightfest! Gone are the unkept promises of a few weeks ago and in their place is actual, new, content! God bless me 😀
I seldom need an excuse to talk about horror games on these hallowed pages, but with the release of PSVR my horror gaming has been taken to a new level…
…I have had two horror experiences with PSVR recently! And no; I’m not talking about the issue with my pre-order. What I’m actually talking about here is genuine horror games; ‘Until Dawn: Rush of Blood’ and ‘Here They Lie’. I would consider myself a horror game veteran and thought that both these games would be quite tame experiences…
…I was wrong. My experiences were very different to my expectations.
What follows is an account of these experiences.
‘Until Dawn: Rush of Blood’
‘Rush of Blood’ is basically a VR ghost train. Remember those?
I saw a little gameplay before release and while I thought it looked like a really fun on-rails shooter with jump scares – I also thought that it looked incredibly cheesy and tame, especially for what it hoped to achieve.
The few scares I saw involved nothing more than things jumping out at you and to an extent that’s exactly what it is – jump scares interspersed with a light gun game. It looked incredibly tame and not at all scary…
…what those online videos couldn’t translate to me however was the sheer immersion that the 3D audio of PSVR brings to the table. For those that don’t know, 3D audio basically simulates how sound acts in the real world through stereo headphones, if you move your head the position of the sound changes. And it is used incredibly powerfully here.
You will hear things come at you, things you cannot see, until they bust right into your line of sight.
The environments become saturated in noise, noise that comes from every possible angle. It becomes oppressive and abusive. It will unsettle you. You are given no choice.
There is one particular moment that uses the audio exceptionally well. You hear a couple of girls sing the creepiest song you’ve ever heard as they move around you – the sound following their movements. Naturally you will turn your head to see who is making these noises. Bad idea.
Within the first two minutes I had jumped out of my skin at least once. Before the title card had appeared. Turns out I wasn’t prepared for the sense of “being” that VR affords the player.
I sat through that entire level. Becoming more and more unsettled, and more scared. ‘Rush of Blood’ got me good. It’s pretty damned scary. That audio is exceptional.
‘Here They Lie’
‘Here They Lie’ was a game that I’ve had my eye on for the longest time, pretty much since it was announced in fact. It looked like a genuinely creepy title that might give ‘SCP: Containment Breach’ a run for its money.
I went into this demo tentative for a number of reasons. The first was that a lot of reviews said it made them sick, the second was that it looked frightening. For the sake of research and my own sick love of getting terrified I slipped on the PSVR and fell into a world of unknown terrors….
…and it was truly horrifying. On a level with SCP to be honest. Maybe worse because of VR.
The level I played took place in an abandoned metro station. You get led through it by a series of flickering lights and doors that mysteriously unlock and open themselves. When I went through one of them (not saying which) it slammed shut behind me; again that 3D audio was bloody incredible. Then I heard it. The heavy breaths of someone or something standing behind me…
…this one piece of audio made me freeze, I literally couldn’t move my head to look behind me. I couldn’t bring myself to look. I stopped playing for a minute or two – all the while being subjected to the horrific audio behind my head. I never brought myself to looking around – I slammed my analogue stick in the direction I was facing and got the hell out of that room.
I still have no idea what it was because I haven’t went back to the game since. I don’t think I’ve prepared for it and I don’t know when/if I’ll go back.
This is a new experience for me.
Sure I’ve had the fear of moving in games before (‘Alien Isolation’ for example) but I’ve never been too frightened to proceed. ‘Here They Lie’ made me too frightened.
The rest of the level I was an absolute wreck. My nerves were shredded and I found myself jumping at everything. However what I saw before I died…
…that’ll stay with me for a long time.
My time with the PSVR has been very good indeed. The horror genre benefits from it in ways I didn’t anticipate – games that would only be moderately scary at best without it suddenly become intense, terrifying, mind scarring experiences that have made me frightened of going back.
If you want to be scared this Hallowe’en, don’t buy a £60 costume and go out into the world. Buy a VR horror game and lose yourself in a world you simply aren’t prepared for.
You’ll never shout at the protagonists in a horror movie again…
Have you ever been too frightened to proceed in a game?
Tell me which one in the comments.