Now admittedly I am not hugely into horror games, though I can appreciate a good one when I happen across it. I like a game to make me feel things and I actually really like games that manage to scare me, but I feel they are few and far between.
I don’t believe this is because the games are badly made, far from it, but I feel perhaps developers get a bit lost in creating all these “scary” ideas that they forget the important thing about creating fear -make players feel immersed. You aren’t truly going to feel frightened if you aren’t in the protagonists shoes so to speak. I also feel that when I am put in the role of someone who is armed to the teeth and a bit of a badass, it’s easy not to be frightened.
One game that scared me to the point of playing only with all my lights on and someone in the room with me, was Fatal Frame 2, The Crimson Butterfly for Playstation 2. From the start, the game gave me the shivers. The setting was eerie and always so so cryptical. A few minutes in I was already question if I really had seen X or really did hear Y. I was put in the shoes of young school girl Mio, as she searches the “lost village” for her twin sister Mayu.
Now, what we have to understand about virtual reality games is, they are going to be relatively basic for a while. We have these fantasies of being able to leap across moons and be chased by dinosaurs. These things will of course be possible but maybe not in the way that is imagined, at least not right away. At the moment the technology is limited, in that in order to “move” you will be using a game-pad instead of walking around yourself, without very expensive and not so easy to find on the market equipment.
I have been lucky enough to use Oculus technology on a few occasions due to my work within a games development company. It is better than I had ever imagined, you truly do feel as if you are standing in a virtual world, as if you are dreaming. I believe this level of immersion will be absolutely incredible for many genres, but horror is possibly going to benefit the most.
(It’s important to note that due to the nature of using an Oculus or any other virtual reality device, (everything is so REAL) developers will need to take extra precautions when making particularly frightening games. More research needs to be put into how people react in virtual worlds, to avoid any possible triggering of panic.)
What made Fatal Frame 2 the most scary for me, was the fact in a way I could relate to Mio. If I was lost in a ghost-infested town, I wouldn’t have much more than a torch either, never mind a camera that can exorcise ghosts. I feel this level of experience will be mirrored in Virtual Reality Horror games, there will be more emphasis on “you” and your limitations. You won’t be in third person view with a sexy gun clad lady to hide behind, you will be seeing horrors unfold with your own eyes.
Here at Cinelinx we are very excited about the continued growth of the Virtual Reality industry and can’t wait to see what developers come up with. We’ll continue to cover the topic, we’re truly at the dawning of a new age of gaming! Happy Halloween!