Think about the name Blair Witch for a moment. What comes to mind? The woods, the year 1994, what about the footage found on the camcorder or even the fear of the unknown? To me, it’s all of those along with the mythology of Ely Kedward and how she was accused of luring children into her home to draw blood and then found guilty of witchcraft. Then, towards the end of 2019, the game Blair Witch came out which many have claimed to be very terrifying. But does the Developer Bloober Team expand on that and intensify it into Virtual Reality? Let’s find out with Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition for the Oculus Quest/Oculus Quest 2.
I am going to say this upfront that and say that I am not going to show the later gameplay footage as I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. I will also say as a warning, that Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition can be intense for some including visceral depictions of PTSD and combat violence, so with that said, let’s continue.
Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition is a game for the Oculus Quest that loosely follows the original Blair Witch movie plot and puts you in the role of Ellis who is an ex-cop that joins the search for 9-year old Peter Shannon who goes missing in the Black Hills Forest which just happens to be a series of disappearance that dates back to 1994, where a certain (Blair Witch movie) students ventured into the woods near Burkittsville and were never seen again.
So right off we have a missing child, a forest where there have been known disappearances, the history, and you the ex-cop that joined the search. But all is not lost with you being alone, as you do have a very trusty companion by your side of your dog, Bullet. Which you will learn that you will need to pay attention to him as he can give you warning signs by the sounds he makes or manor just like a real dog would. And yes, you can actually pet and interact with Bullet as well.
One of the things I like, when you start Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition, is that it tells you the game uses binaural audio and that using headphones is highly recommended. And this could not be even more true. From the moment the phone rang and if you hold it to each ear, you can hear how the audio would be an important aspect in this game as it is an important part of the experience in Virtual Reality. And being able to hear the sounds of the woods come alive around me, I knew I was in for a treat.
I also like how simple the controls are from reaching like you need to grab something from a backpack to see your book of items you have collected to picking up the radio to at least feel like there is some type of another human contact out there to even reaching to your side to pick up your cell phone, which when there is no service, in the dark, has this sense of urgency that something is going to happen and you just do not know what it is. But don’t let the first two chapters fool you with that sunlight beaming through the trees. There were many times I wished to let me see the sun that I knew that starting chapter 3, is when things would start to get more intense.
Of course, being in the dark in the woods can be scary and even though you do have Bullet by your side who again, you need to pay attention to as he can lead you in the right direction, your flashlight can help light the way and at times almost seem like a hero even if it only shines so far and it’s beyond the light in the darkness that makes you wish the sun would shine any time it would like to. But you also have the camcorder, which when you find tapes, you have to pause it at the right time as it can help alter time and things that you don’t see, will start to show.
As you will be exploring there will be flashbacks of Ellis and you really start to learn of his past and what he has been through to get to this point. But as you are exploring a lot of the time, it’s the environment that starts to play with you as it’s welcoming you into its games of scares as you are being led on a path that may not necessarily be the straight one as you find items (including those individuals that I wonder if I would ever see) that help piece the story of trying to find Peter Shannon along with the mystery of what’s really in the Black Hills Forest.
But it’s just not the atmosphere you need to be concerned with, but the monsters within the forest that you will have to deal with. Some you will just need to avoid and some, unfortunately, you will have to face your fears, but all really seem to fit the point in the story.
Let’s talk about the sound for a moment. As someone who did not play the non-VR version, Bloober Team did an amazing job of making the sound a focus point. From the sounds of Bullet to having the sounds intensify right when something is about to happen. And like I mentioned previously, is important when it comes to the immersion of Virtual Reality. Looking at the graphics I thought it was done very well. With the power of the Oculus Quest 2 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chipset and being able to render the number of pixels per eye. The shadows of the trees in the dark (which was almost like playing a game on its own) to the light from the flashlight and viewing screen on the camcorder to the atmosphere that draws you into it to even seeing the Bullet’s fur was really well done.
There are some things I did notice and some things that I wish could be added. For one, there were a few glitches I came across when I was walking in the forest at night and that is I would just fall off at one point and then seem to fall as if I have been killed and was having this out of body experience as the forest was rising and I was falling. If this was the intent because I slipped off of something in the dark, then bravo. But after it happened a few times (again I want to times so not a lot) I was kind of laughing. Bullet a few times got stuck and I had to go back so he would then be able to follow. So hopefully these glitches can get addressed and updated.
Blair Witch already had certain rules within it, you can sometimes know what to expect. But when it comes to taking that title and allowing it to escape those boundaries and transforms it into Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition in Virtual Reality, that is when you know that you did not just enter that world, but that world allowed you to enter it and make its next victim.
Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition is out now on the Oculus Quest/Quest 2 on the Oculus Quest Store. A review code was provided.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to see if I can discover the other endings of the game.