Spooky things to try with (or without!) VR kits
Its Halloween week this week, and so in the spirit of the season gamers and non-gamers alike will be getting their spook on in various ways. One of the greatest things that has come out of the rise of new virtual reality devices is the resurgence of the horror game. New games have been made specifically for use with VR tech like the Oculus Rift, older games have been modded to give better ways to make you jump out of your skin or send a chill down your spine, and previously scary games get even more chilling when you add the immersion VR headsets give you.
I had the pleasure of playing the recently released Alien Isolation on the Oculus Rift recently, and I have to say, it was brilliant. The game itself has already had some decent reviews, and before this point I had only seen the game in demos and videos online. On the Rift its simply breathtaking in more ways then one, walking around the station, which is so brilliantly built, it makes you feel like you’re right there in the movies, and every tiny sound effect or visual cue makes you strain to hear or see more. I think the best thing about it is quite often the Alien itself is never there, so you curse yourself for being so jumpy, and drop your guard just that little bit more only for its appearance to have that much more of an effect. Truly a game at home on the Rift.
A developer well known for specialising in horror games is Frictional Games, previously known for the Penumbra series and now the Amnesia series. When The Dark Descent was released back in 2010 word spread quickly about its various scary sections, hiding from monsters and overall horror tone. Youtube and various streamers went nuts with this one, seemingly attempting to outdo each other into making themselves look ridiculous online. Sadly, due to driver issues, the rift doesn’t work in The Dark Decent, though there are some workarounds. The second in the series, A Machine for Pigs, kept the tone, but dropped some of the monsters and jumpy sections, much to some of the fanbases disgust. However, the game works much better on the rift and because of this it rivals its predecessor as a game that oozes the charm of horror. Whats even better is that a small modding community has sprung up around these games, and have made some strikingly brilliant levels for free in addition to the main game.
Got a fear of various beasties, but mostly spiders? Have a go at Legend of Grimrock, which at first glance might not seem like a game where horror is a big thing, but dim the lights, put your headset on and turn the sound up, and you may be surprised at just how jumpy you get when a trap makes you unexpectedly fall through the floor or spawns a monster right behind you. Especially when that monster is a giant spider that leaps forward to bite your face off the moment you turn around to see what that noise was.
Talking of things that leap out and bite your face off, theres plenty of other little games, built for horror or otherwise, that are great on the Rift precisely because something leaps out at you. Don’t Let Go, Alone in the Rift, Dreadhalls, and Affected all come to mind as standouts worth checking out. Underwater sea exploration games are also a lot of fun, with games like Undercurrent, Underwater Adventure, and World of Diving all seeming to offer a sometimes peaceful, sometimes chaotic experience.
If horror specific games aren’t your thing, theres plenty of other Halloween festivities you can enjoy without them shocking you into falling off your chair. The source engine for instance has been pretty good to the Rift, with support for the Half Life series going strong to give you that B-movie sense of dread while walking around City 17 or Black Mesa, and support for Left for Dead in the works, but there are a lot of games out there that have miniature events going on during this time simply for fun, including Team Fortress 2 and World of Warcraft, both of which have Oculus Rift support.
The great thing about VR right now is that its not just the headset that’s creating immersion. Developers are hard at work on control schemes for players to use, and two big names right now are the Cyberith Virtualizer ( http://cyberith.com/news ) and the Virtuix Omni ( http://www.virtuix.com/ ). Both of these are essentially platforms that you move on to control your character. Of course, they cost about the price of an arm or a leg, but that’s the price of going all out for the ultimate experience. With these gadgets lining up to make games and other virtual experiences even more immersive, its a safe bet that further Halloweens can only get more chilling! Have a great Halloween week!