What if you went on a trip where the majority of your time would be on the water, but somehow got lost, how well do you think the sanity of your mind would stay in place? If you came across an island, without food or water for days or weeks, would you even think about what dangers could lie ahead or would you be happy to just get off the boat and step foot onto land? It may start to have you think about what if and not being in that situation may add to the mind possibly playing tricks on you. But does developer Moolion Games bring the point-&-click horror? Let’s find out with Wardwell House for the Oculus Quest/Quest 2.
Wardwell House is a point-&-click adventure-horror game with an interesting atmosphere where you must find hidden clues and objects of interest that slowly reveal the haunting story as you make your way through the forest and through the Wardwell House. Now, before we get into the review there are, of course, a couple of things. One, I will not spoil anything as it is for you to explore to reveal the story. Second, grab a seat that can spin if you have one. And finally, just go in with an open mind and have some fun. With that said, let’s continue.
The first thing you will notice about Wardwell House is that it is, in fact, in black & white. The second thing you will notice is that the game is made up of actual 360-degree photos. So we have the horror aspect, black & white, and 360-degrees of immersive VR. And looking at this from a non-VR view, you might think that it might not be anything, but once you play this in VR, it does give it that old B horror movie feels which really works here. Also, another thing I want to point out is that you do not use any controllers here as you simply just look at the different clues and objects to help progress the story. Starting out in the forest, you can tell which items are the clues as they do have a yellow circle. So just look at the yellow circle to read and then once everything is discovered in the area, you can then move on once you see the arrows, that again, you just need to look at in order to move on.
But it’s when you make your way to the Wardwell House that the feeling that something strange has happened and is about to get a lot. So, now we have a few things that can be checked off the list for those horror fans out there. Black & White, some unusual objects like human skulls, and a creepy old house in the middle of the woods. Yep, this gives all of those B-Horror movie vibes. But don’t let the looks of the outside of the house fool you, because once you enter, it really is a different side of things.
Entering a house that is not yours can be more than scary and really should never be done. But there was something about being in this house that I just wanted to know more about until you get the feeling not only from the music changing but also sounds that make you feel that you may not be as alone as you thought and trying to escape only to realize, things that we may want may not always be the case.
Let’s talk about the sound and graphics. Using black & white as the primary colors along with the actual 360-degree photos works like a charm here. And the fact that the house is a historic one on the East Coast of the USA just makes me want to go and visit it and explore the area even more. When you are playing and just reading the clues and viewing the 360-degrees around you, the ambient sounds really come into play. Hearing the howling of the wind, the birds, to even some of the audio clues just rounded the atmosphere very nicely.
There is just one thing that I would have enjoyed seeing here even more and that’s more time with Wardwell House. The game is not a long one, but having more areas to explore would just add to it all. The game really doesn’t have jump scares and this is in favor of giving the game a more unsettling and scary atmosphere (which again works) that anyone, regardless of how they handle VR horror, should be able to sit through without any worry. But after playing Wardwell House, I think having addiontal areas even if it was as few as one to three different areas with more clues and objects would just be a bonus and tell even more of the story.
Wardwell House shows us how a more simple approach works. There weren’t any explosives or death happening right in front of us, but storytelling. And storytelling that told some and allowed your imagination to possibly help fill in the gaps. Sometimes we always want more in life in bigger and crazier ways, but sometimes, it’s the smaller scale in simple portions things that can really show us where less can give us more.
Wardwell House is out now on Oculus App Lab on the Oculus Store and Steam. A review code was provided.
To learn more about Moolion Games, please visit the site, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Also, check out the Wardwell House interview.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to go enjoy the atmosphere of things.