October 29, 2014

Virtual Scares on the Oculus Rift

By Megan G.

Some hyperlinks in this article lead to horror game developers’ websites, which feature frightening images and video clips.  There is also a link to a list of YouTube videos with gamers shouting certain expletives in terror as they play these games.  Click only if you are not faint of heart!

Here at Tek Shouts! we provide our readers with the latest updates and interesting tidbits of the SEO, tech, and marketing fields.  For today, let us take a look at what is happening in the world of virtual reality (VR).  The Oculus Rift, an intriguing VR device, has been making groundbreaking waves in the video game industry over the past year.  Still in development, the Rift is a goggle-headphones combination that offers a dynamic VR experience through complete visual and aural immersion.  With zero vision of the outside world, players can only see what the Oculus shows them.  The Rift’s 360° head-tracking matches the game’s images to players’ head movements, thus allowing them to observe the virtual world as they would reality—by looking side-to-side, up-and-down, and even right behind them.

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s take a look at the scarier titles made especially for the Oculus Rift.  These virtual reality goggles have been described as a perfect innovation for the survival horror genre, immersing players directly into terrifying settings without letting them look away.  With headphones that block all sounds except those of the monsters chasing you, the Oculus Rift can create a truly nightmarish experience.  Don’t worry too much, though.  This isn’t A Clockwork Orange, so you can still shut your eyes!  Or take off the headset.

Here are three, Rift-enabled titles that have gotten a lot of attention for their scare value.

A popular pick for YouTubers, Affected is described as “the ultimate horror walkthrough.”  The game functions much like a spooky haunted house or an amusement park maze.  There are no puzzles, nor are there enemies to defeat—the player simply merrily traipses (or tearfully sprints) through three dark, haunted environments:  the Manor, the Asylum, and the Carnival.  Each level is filled with ghastly apparitions, monsters, and clowns ready to terrorize the player.  What more could a horror fan ask for?  Despite some issues with sound glitches, gamers report that the visuals are polished and offer a highly terrifying experience.

Spiders, flies, a velociraptor—oh my!  Don’t Let Go! is a short game with simple rules:  don’t let go of the keyboard as the game tries to frighten you out of your seat.  You play an office worker employed at a very strange workplace, where all sorts of things intrude your office (whether through the door or out of thin air).  Instead of relying on standard horror fare, like pale-faced ghouls or madmen with chainsaws, this game’s unnerving challenges range from spiders crawling up your arms, to knives falling from the ceiling, to a curious velociraptor that visits you at your desk. Your character’s in-game hands reflect the position of your actual body, so if you flinch… it’s game over!  This title is one of the highest-rated experiences available for the Oculus Rift, proving that simple graphics and game-play can go a long way if the spooks are handled right!

You awaken in a dark, dank dungeon, with nothing but a blank piece of parchment and a fading lantern at your disposal.  As you walk along the tight corridors of this claustrophobic place, you realize you are trapped in a seemingly endless maze… and you are not alone!  A “horror dungeon crawler,” Dreadhalls sports a setting and design that are reminiscent of the 2010 horror game, Amnesia:  The Dark Descent.  With no way to fight the creatures that lurk in these dreaded halls, the player is powerless to do anything except run and hide.  For an added bonus of replay value, the labyrinthine dungeon is mapped differently each time the player starts a new game.  This title is available in prerelease form for the Oculus Rift on both Windows and Mac computers.   

More Scary Stuff

There are many other horrific games and experiences to peruse on Oculus VR’s Share (Beta) page, including titles such as ZVR Apocalypse:  a shoot-em-up zombie title with gruesome character designs.  If its variety of games is not enough, the Rift now has a film added to its horror genre mix:  Banshee Chapter.  This horror-thriller was originally released in December 2013, and is now available for free on the Oculus Rift.  Based loosely on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, From Beyond, Banshee Chapter has a various frightful delights, including creepy radio broadcasts, freaky-faced creatures, and chilling music that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats and primed for jump scares.  Thanks to the studio Jamwix, the film is now available in virtual reality.  Presenting a 120° field of view, the Rift gives viewers the sensation of being in the scene as the image wraps around their vision.  Viewers can actually look left and right, focusing on certain points of the film “in full motion and depth.”  Banshee Chapter is now frighteningly immersive because of the Rift, just like the horror games listed above.
Have you tried the Oculus Rift, or any of these titles?  What are your favorite horror video games and films this year?  Let us know in the comments!   

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