Horror and VR are something that usually goes hand in hand. There is just something about the atmosphere that the sound can also play an important part of it all. From the screams to the sounds to the gore to the jumpscares, with the right combination VR horror can become a terrifying experience for one to be a part of. So does developer Alien Studio give us something new when it comes to the VR horror genre? Yes, they do. Let’s find out with Deadness for PCVR.
Deadness is a VR horror game where you experience real fear and anxiety in a super-realistic VR environment. So before you jump in thinking nothing can scare you, there are a few things that you will want to know. First, you will be seated throughout. So find your favorite chair. Something not too wide and you can easily reach the sides. Second, this is a horror game. Things may or may not jump at you and you will see disturbing things. Third, the gameplay I am showing is from the earlier parts of the game. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone and plus, the later parts of the game did not record for some reason. So I apologize for that. Fourth, make sure your controllers are charged. Trust me when I say, you do not want to be in this facility and stranded with all the screams because you forgot to charge your controllers. And finally, like everything else, just enjoy the experience. With that said, let’s continue…
When I first started Deadness the first time, I saw what was the outline for HTC controllers. Using an Oculus Rift S, it wasn’t a problem to figure things out, but something didn’t feel right. So I waited and a new update came out that added Oculus headsets and this made a world of a difference. I say this because normally if you playing anything in the horror genre, you can run around, run from whatever might be chasing you or whatnot. This is where Deadness is different. You are bound to a wheelchair. And there is no moving the left thumbstick to just move as you actually have to reach to the sides and roll to move just like were in a real wheelchair. So it’s this type of realism added to the VR horror, that will force you not to rush through, but to be aware of your surroundings. And the more I thought about it, the more it started to put a smile on my face for the decision that the developer made.
But part of the fun is not knowing what is going on. You wake up in an old research facility and you do not remember how you got here or what’s going on. It’s up to you to find a way out of your room that’s mysteriously boarded up as you try and wheel your way around without trying to get noticed by whatever experiments may be going on here.
Along the way, you will find out clues and try to figure out to gain access to certain areas, and figure out some puzzles, again all while being in a wheelchair. But it’s as you move along and get to certain areas where you get the sense that someone may have recently been there, that even though there is nothing around you, it’s the faint echoes and screams of this facility that really can start playing with you, but you can almost start to find some comfort in the audio clues that will keep you guessing what happened as you try and remember that you find. It’s almost like having someone there with you holding your hand.
As you move on and start to get an idea of what is going on, it’s the different environments that add to it all like if you were in a real haunted house for the Halloween season. There may or may not be bodies on the floor with flies flying around or hanging from the ceiling or there could even be a part where you have to move through a corridor with arms trying to grab you. This is where I wish my gameplay would have been recorded, but I still can remember those screams of horror.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. Deadness looks really good on PCVR. There is just something about the lighting that flickers from the barely lit lighting at times to even the creatures that really add visually to the horror of the atmosphere. Seeing your hands for the first time and looking at the small details of things like the wheels of your wheelchair really shows the hard work that went into everything. When listening to the sound, I loved how you would hear the screams at certain times almost playing a part in it. There is a part where you have to move your wheelchair over some planks and the first time I tried to go over them, I crashed and died as I heard the boards breaking. The next time, the same boards creaked as I made it over as it almost was toying with my senses. But the use of the echoes really complimented the atmosphere in a way that made me appreciate what the game was going for even more.
There are a few things that I would like to see added. For one additional controls for the game. You use the trigger buttons to grab onto the wheels, but you need to feel the vibration in the controls to let you know you are in the right spot. Maybe adding additional controls to make moving around a little easier for those that could get frustrated. I totally get what the developer is trying to do and they accomplished it, but for the newer players to VR, it might just help with things a little better. Also, it was too easy to hit the menu button which can break the immersion for some. Maybe add the ability to rearrange the button layout to help with this. And finally, more platforms. Right now, Deadness is only on PCVR. I can see the game being on the Quest platform and using the hand-tracking to add to the immersion or even on PlayStation VR 2 with the technology that will bring.
Deadness brings something new to the VR horror genre that forces us to not rush, but makes us be confined and face our fears. It is in no way trying to hold our hand as much as just putting us in a place, regardless of how disturbing that place is, and conquer it all. Like in life, we all have decisions to make and some of those decisions we are able to run away from. But if we all at times in our life and confined to face our problems, we just might be better because of it.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I think I am going to practice my wheelchair skills a little more.