Imagine if you had a family member who, due to some unfortunate times, had to be admitted to a mental facility. What would you feel? How would you handle everyday life with the knowledge that they are in the same place where it has been known that patients were missing? Would you question the reasons why? Would you go and try to set them free? It’s interesting to think what some of us would do in that situation. But does the publisher, Perp Games, and the developer, Split Light Studio, open the gates of the horror? Let’s find out with Afterlife VR, for PlayStation VR2.
Afterlife VR is a deeply immersive horror game. As Adam Bernhard, a young rookie police officer on a night patrol, you receive a call that will change your life forever. Uncover secrets that are hidden deep within the Black Rose mental hospital walls, where most of the patients pose great danger. So before entering the doors of Black Rose, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, you will want to find your favorite place to sit. There very well may be some disturbing things within these walls, so you might as well be comfortable. Second, make sure those sense controllers are charged. Things could jump at you and don’t want to be frozen and not move all because you forgot to charge them. Third, make sure you have some good headphones. There could be screams which could be yours, but you might as well enjoy all the sounds that Black Rose has to offer. Fourth, turn off all the lights. No need to waste extra electricity, plus you will be more immersed in your time if you do so. Fifth, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone. And finally, just have some fun. With all that said, let’s continue…
When you first start, take a look around. There are some disturbing scenery from blood that is on the floor to a hanging individual. I just wanted to let this be known as this could affect people differently. You are put into the tutorial to learn to move and interact with objects which is quite simple. Press both thumbsticks on the Sense controllers to run, use the L1/R1 to grab items and open doors, L3/R3 to crouch, and use the Square or X buttons for your inventory. you end up in your patrol car and that is when you receive a call that there is an issue, a potential 10-79 (which is a hostage situation) at the Black Rose Mental Hospital. I will say that the drive is a nice one at night, except you can tell that the cars passing you are speeding as I am sure they were up to no good doing whatever they were doing at this hour of the night.
Some of the things you will have to keep in mind. You…I mean Adam does have a heart issue and wears a watch that not only tells the time but shows your heartbeat rate. It turns out that the heartbeat needs to be below 200 or, per your own comments, “you will be a goner” if it reaches 200. You do have a flashlight, however, it does require batteries, which are spread out throughout the hospital. You will gain access to a weapon, that will require ammo, which is also spread throughout the hospital. When you access your inventory, all you need to do is just move your hand over the item that you want, and it’s yours.
You will not only need to be careful of the strange things within the hospital, but apparently, if you come too close to birds or you happen to open a door and a pack of rats decide to greet you and thank you for opening the door as they could not get out, you will start to lose health. There will also be medicine that you can inject yourself with (because this hospital truly looks sanitary) and then just drop the needles on the ground making anyone else that comes in after you think this is a place for drug users due to all the used needles all over the place. You could open a random drawer and place the used needle inside if you are truly worried about it. But you are the cop and I really don’t think anyone is going to question it. Well, maybe the patient’s shaking or standing in a corner might be the result of the meds. Just remember kids, don’t do drugs and it’s ok to say no and also to yell out stranger danger. Wait, we got off track, back to the case…
You are, of course, looking for your sister Allison. And again, not going to spoil anything, but some strange things are going on in this hospital. While trying to find out what is going on, you will have puzzles to solve, the shooting of enemies, and jump scares to embrace.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. When looking at the graphics, some will say that they were expecting more, but that’s the beauty of it here. Think of those B horror movies that you can’t help but just watch. Some of those had great jump scares that just made you part of the experience. Afterlife VR isn’t trying to be this over-decorated horror game where there has to be all this blood and slashing but takes the B horror route and embraces it with the look and feel of a once-filled hospital, and turned it into this mental hospital where something is going on. But what else does it play on other than the darkness and emptiness? You have some paranormal activity going on that when you add the sounds of the footsteps, the sounds in the halls, and even the screams, that all come out pretty well when using a headset like the Pulse 3D Audio headset, the experience you are getting is something almost like an episode of Ghost Adventures in VR.
There are a few things I would love to see. First, the footsteps. Yes, the footsteps add to the experience, but there was something about every time I was walking, it seemed like the footsteps were more on the right side. Not only that, but they seemed a little loud than one would expect when walking or walking through a mental hospital that has lost patients. I think if your own footsteps volume could be lowered and then add some additional sounds and play more with the 3D audio to really have the sounds be more of scares, it would be pretty wicked. Second, is the inventory placement. Depending on where you have your hand and press the button to pull the inventory, that’s where it will be placed. So if you had your hand low, the inventory would be low. So you have to remember to have your hand where you want the inventory to be placed instead of having it defaulted to a certain area. This might be a good way to use eye tracking with the PlayStation VR2. And finally, the length of the game. I am not going to lie, the game is short, and that very well may be good for some players, while others would wish their time could be a little longer. Who knows, maybe there will be a prologue that tells more of the history of the Black Rose Mental Hospital and those in charge.
Afterlife VR does open its games to let us experience the horror in its way and doesn’t try to hide what it is and gives us the opportunity to break from the norm and into an atmospheric experience. We sometimes go through life trying to figure out who we are both emotionally as well as mentally. Sometimes the paths we go down, lead to a dark place with, what may appear, to be no escape. But if can look at ourselves in the mirror, take the time to really look at ourselves, and know we always have someone to talk to that won’t judge us, but accept us for who we are, our lives can be nothing but positive and bright.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have to find some doctor’s notes that I missed.