Relive your favorite scariest movie – it’s the immersive properties of the Oculus Rift that make it precisely so great for gaming, and particularly horror. If you genuinely enjoy that feeling of sheer terror, you’re in for a real treat. So sit back, get a fresh pair of pants to hand, and get ready to be terrified.
Alone in the Rift (download)
Alone in the Rift is unlikely to ever become a full “real” game, but as a tech demo, the shock tactics are spot on. There’s nothing too complex here – it’s a cliché creepy forest scene, you have a flashlight, and your goal is a shed at the end of the walk. Perfect for Halloween parties, and purely to demonstrate exactly how powerful the Rift can be for horror games – this should be your first stop. Really, don’t play this is you have heart problems.
Not convinced? This guys reaction says it all – be sure to watch all the way to the end. Warning: NSFW language.
Inspired by the Roguelike genre of dungeon crawlers, Dreadhalls uses procedural generation to create a unique experience every time. Your goal is simply to find the exit, but unless you want to be thrown into pitch black you’ll need to explore anyway to find more lamp oil. There are no weapons, but there are lots of things that will eat you.
Again, it looks like this is just a tech demo, but there’s enough ideas floating around on the developers forum thread that it could easily grow into a full game.
Among The Sleep (download)
Baby Horror? Sure! That’s a genre now. The world is a different place at night, and even our familiar home environment transforms into a strange place with all manner of terrifying noises – especially to the mind of a 2-year-old child, which is exactly where Among The Sleep puts you.
What’s unique about Among The Sleep is the choice of a deliberately smaller inter-pupillary distance (IPD) – the eyes of a child are closer together after all – with the effect that the game world and object in it feel much larger than they are in real life. It feels like you are a helpless child, playing to our childhood fears of the monsters under the bed. The game was successfully Kickstarted earlier this year and currently in development, expect the full release late next year. The demo linked above doesn’t require an Oculus Rift, so feel free to have a go even if you’re still waiting on your dev kit.
Lost In the Rift (download)
Lost In the Rift demonstrates so perfectly how you can completely terrify people without actually doing all that much – there are no monsters to attack you, no sudden shock tactics or decapitated bodies that randomly appear in front of your eyes – just good old anticipation of the unknown. Yes, it’s a formulaic eerie forest, but let that put you off having a go.
My final pick is Alone, unique in that most of the game is spent playing a videogame while sat on your virtual sofa – gameception, or something. The horror comes when the meta-game begins to spill into your VR environment. Tyler Hodden explains quite eloquently why this is an absolute winner in this playthrough video, but TL/DR – the added layer of having a game within a virtual environment increases your distance from physical reality, hence increasing the level of immersion.
These are certainly the best from what I’ve seen so far, but there’s more to be found – including “retro-Rifted” games like Dead Space using third-party drivers such as Vireio, VorpX or TriDef – check out RiftEnabled.com for a full list. If MineCraft at night is about the right level of horror you can handle, then have no fear – MineCrift is a MineCraft mod that immerses you in the game.
Personally, I won’t be playing any of these because I’m not a masochist – well, only on weekends. Turning on the evening news is enough to give me horrific dreams – I really don’t feel the need to fuel them with any of this stuff. That said, if you are into horror, the Oculus Rift will be the perfect way to experience the genre at a higher level than your adrenal glands have ever coped with before – and having tried the prototype HD Rift, I’m more convinced than ever that this generation of gaming will be truly won by VR. Imagine playing a game like Outlast on a Rift. Pure terror. If you’re planning a Halloween party, considering setting up a special Rift demo and let us know how it goes. I’ll be sticking to GTA5, thank you very much.