We recently went all virtual reality for a Halloween experience like no other.
Like many of you, I’ve dressed up and gone trick or treating as a kid. And like some, I’ve tried on a cheap virtual reality headset at home to see what all the fuss was about.
But the words ‘virtual reality’ and ‘Halloween’ aren’t normally heard in the same sentence. So I jumped at the chance to experience a virtual reality (VR) Halloween thanks to Vive, a leading company in VR. They’ve produced a first-of-its-kind virtual reality platform where you can move about the room playing games.
First off, you need a PC fast enough to support the HTC Vive headset. Thankfully, Vive provides test to see if your PC makes the grade. If it does, then prepare yourself for total gaming immersion.
The headset has two speakers, one on each ear, and you use two controllers, one for each hand, with a button on the front and a trigger placed on the back. Wherever you look and move in real life, it means you look and move in that direction in the game.
Viveport is Vive’s app store for the virtual reality games and I had the screamalicious joy of testing out three of them:
AFFECTED: The Manor (£5.99 from Steam)
AFFECTED was originally released as a demo on the Oculus Rift DK1 in the early days of the VR. Now, the first chapter of this trilogy game has been released on the HTC Vive. Using one controller to move and the other to shine your torch, you navigate through The Manor. It has great replaying ability and is fun to play with friends since you don’t die and there’s a choice of two routes and four alternate endings. Also, there are no loading save points or having to reach a certain point in the game. Just navigate through creepy corridors and scary staircases, and experience the horrors first hand, while trying not to flinch or jump, or laughing at your friends doing so.
It says you won’t get lost in “The Manor” since if a door is open, then that’s the direction to head in. But I’m terrible at finding my way around in video games (and real life too!). Luckily, there are no irksome puzzles and you’re free to explore your surrounding with ease. Still, it took me a while to stop walking into things and figure out how to turn and move around properly.
And as interactive as it is, it isn’t always. Like when I saw a little girl kneeling in the corner. In horror at the situation I attempted to kick her, but my foot went straight threw her.
It’s scary when your torch batteries run and you’re stuck in darkness, hearing screams. I admit, though, that most of the scares didn’t affect me, nor make me jump. It obvious they were coming. I swatted at some bats flying at me and when facing a red armchair flying in circles, I could tell an attempt at scaring me was coming. And it did – a witch flew through me, but I was unfazed. I only jumped once, at the end when a creature leaped out at me.
I enjoyed the suspense of AFFECTED: The Manor but I felt it needed more genuine jumps and scares. Still, horror is subjective.
Deathlike: Awakening (£6.99 from Steam)
I preferred this game to the last one, finding it scarier and more exciting. You’re alone in the woods where an evil creature lurks, maybe a witch or demon. All I know is that it’s evil and it’s after you, listening to your every step quite literally. This is a first person immersive survival horror, with outstanding graphics and gameplay. You use the right controller as your torch and move the left controller up and down to move forward, the faster you move it, the faster you move in the game. The aim is to escape from the forest, or at least survive as long as possible before the creature kills you.
You have to move carefully, though. Noises and the light from your torch alert the creature. When your controllers vibrate or you hear a sound, that indicates the creature is nearby and you have to stay still, not even moving your head.
I managed to reach a hut, heard noises, tree branches breaking, and pointed the torch to the ground and waited. When I looked up, the creature screamed then attacked me, causing me to jump back. In fact every time I died, I jumped.
I enjoyed this game a lot and my total survival time was around 12 minutes. (The average that day was a mere 90 seconds. Heh heh.) So I moved slow and survived for longer but was still no closer to escaping. You have to tap three sigils to unlock the fence to escape. That damn fence. I couldn’t kick it down or climb over it. Freedom was lost. If I was really in that situation, nothing would get between me and that fence. Except that creature, of course. My friend tried it too, coming closer to freedom, tapping a sigil in the hut and finding an abandoned church that probably held another. In the end, he still died. It proves how tough the game is but how fun, trying to find your way and use different tactics, going to different locations and exploring the forest.
GORN (£14.99 from Steam)
Although not quite a horror game, this is a violent gladiator game is incredibly fun to play. You savagely strike down hordes of muscular opponents with all manner of weapons – from swords, maces and throwing knives to bows, nunchucks and massive two-handed war hammers. Even your bare hands. You complete different challenges to unlock different weapons, for example killing ten enemies by parrying their blows.
I can’t stress how fun it is to play. You walk around and pull down a lever, then move your left hand in a kayaking motion, back and forth, to walk to a big red button. When you push that, you’re in a cage in the arena, looking around at the crowd. You pick up two weapons and raise them in the air, saluting the Emperor. The cage lifts and the battle commences, with enemies approaching at you from all sides.
Swinging and striking enemies down and watching their blood pour out was sure fun. I killed 11 when the most that day so far was 14. On my second go, I beat that score, killing 15 enemies. In the end, my friend managed 23 kills and me 26 – prizes of chocolates and champagne came our way.
One downside is the graphics. The huge, animated gladiators and would be better if they actually looked like Roman gladiators. And there’s only around seven hours of gameplay. This game is a workout, though, as much as much as anything. It’s your chance to become a real gladiator. Just make sure you have enough room because you could easily break things in the real world, swinging away.