The words Blair Witch have a special meaning for a lot of people. From the Movies, the mockumentaries, to even the games, Blair Witch Volume I: Rustin Parr, Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock, and Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale, and even Blair Witch: Oculus Quest Edition. There is just something about the Blair Witch universe that is intriguing and mysterious about it that keeps drawing us towards it. So does developer Bloober Team show us any improvements from the Oculus Quest Edition and the spookiness to welcome us back to Burkittsville and the Black Hills Forest? Let’s find out with the Blair Witch VR Edition for PlayStation VR.
Blair Witch VR Edition is the VR version of the 2019 Blair Witch that loosely follows the 2016 movie plot in a story-driven psychological horror game from the creative minds behind the critically acclaimed The Medium. Experience first-hand the toll that fear can take on the mind in an original story inspired by the cinematic lore of Blair Witch, designed for Virtual Reality. So to make sure you have the best experience possible, you will want to do a few things. For one, make sure your Move controllers are fully charged. You do not want to be out in the Black Hills Forest in the dark only to have the hand you want to use to hold any type of light or camera suddenly not work because you forgot to charge your controllers. Plus, it can get dark out there plus when you add the audio, things can get real creepy. Second, make sure your play area is free of any obstacles, pets, humans, or any supernatural things that you may have collected over the years and didn’t realize what it was you picked up. And lastly, for the ultimate experience, play at night time with the lights off. With all that said, let’s continue.
Before jumping right in, you want to get familiar with the controls. To move, use the Move, triangle, or Square on the left Move controller. Rotating is done with the Square and Triangle and O to crouch on the right Move controller. X to sprint (you may be using this a lot) and use the item with the Move button on the right Move controller.
Now, I was thinking about how I was going to review Blair Witch VR Edition since the Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition was reviewed. I was really interested in how Bloober Team had improved on the Quest Edtion with the PlayStation VR and PCVR versions of the game. So I want to focus on what has been improved upon. But for those that have not played Blair Witch, either non-VR or in VR, the premise of the story is this…You play 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.
But understand that when you play as Ellis who is a former police officer and you will learn through past memories that something may not be right emotionally and mentally with Ellis. We also learn that Ellis was given a partner when he didn’t think he needed or wanted one known as Bullet. Bullet is your dog and partner. He will stick by you as well as do commands and with the VR Edition, it seems that Bullet has picked up a few new and improved commands such as petting him to let him know that Bullet is a good dog, add a variety of different collars (which you can do right before you get into the game as they are laid out on the table. I went with green as it was easier to see where Bullet was in the dark), you can now give him treats and he will take them out of your hand which makes it a little more of that personal interaction, tracking scents throughout the forest by sniffing an object (which comes in really helpful), and the fact that you can shake his paw just to have that comfort when the noises start to sound and you are not sure what is going on).
I can’t really speak highly enough about Bullet, but remember, this is a partnership based on trust. There will be times when you may and probably will get a little lost out in the forest, so use Bullet. He will help lead the way from the things that he picks up a scent on to digging. He will get scared with the symbols made out of wood, so you will need to grab those hanging from the trees in order to not have Bullet get scared and so he can move on. But listen to Bullet when he starts to make certain sounds and maybe acts a little strange. Just like in real life, animals have a sense, and Bloober Team did a great job with the improvements here.
But it’s when you get to certain objects that the Blair Witch VR Edition starts to really add to the atmosphere that it set out to be. One of those objects would be the camcorder where you will find tapes as you progress that helps tie into what has happened within the story. But there is something special about this camcorder and the tapes that help you find hidden objects as you view and play certain parts of the tapes at certain times in certain locations which will alter and make what happened to happen and easily controllable due to the layout of the controls of the Move controller. For example, there is a part with a tree that is in the way, but when you look at the tape and rewind and fast forward to that certain point, the tree is not there. So it really does add to the element of everything around you.
And speaking of improvements, it seems things did improve not only with Bullet, but with the gameplay, sound, and graphics as well. For one, in the Quest version if you wanted to open a door or a trunk you had to kind of lift it like you would a trunk or open a door as you would normally, but here, it can be open by simply a touch. For me, I like being able to have to try and open a door or lift a trunk, but adding the ability to do those things with a touch is a nice option to have for players out there. I also did notice that I could break branches which I need to go back to the Quest version and see if that was possible.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. As I just mentioned, these have been improved very nicely. There is something about going through these woods and seeing the light of the morning that made it feel more like morning would be in the woods. Bullet did seem sharper in some ways and seeing just the way light would pierce through the forest looked fantastic in VR. There are 2D cutscenes that help bridge the story. Some may not like them and some will. I for one didn’t mind them. The sound also sounded great. Hearing the voices, the birds chirping, insects, and frogs along with steps as you move throughout the forest to creatures moving through the woods as they are looking for when to attack to even conversations on the radio and cell phone were well balanced and when everything is going on all around you, it is a real joy to listen to.
Blair Witch VR Edition shows what happens when you take a non-VR game and give it the proper VR treatment. It adds a new level of play that can only be reached in VR. Sometimes we wonder if we should and sometimes others might question what we are wondering. It’s when we take the ideas of wonder and turn them into a reality so we can answer those who question. And doesn’t it feel good when we actually have the answers to the questions that are being asked?
Blair Witch VR Edition is out now on the Oculus Store, PlayStation VR in both a standard and deluxe edition (that comes with the original soundtrack and The Art of Blair Witch), and Steam. A review copy was provided.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have to get back into the Black Hills Forest.