Virtual Reality is a perfect marriage to the survival horror genre, the potential for a deeper level of immersion on an emotional level and the ability to fool the senses is increased exponentially. No longer is a creature, monster or a ghost restricted to the television screen but now you can almost feel and hear them around you -- their footsteps in the vents or the whispers in your ear.
The improvements in VR technology definitely brings more realism to the games and the ability to disrupt your already heightened senses that in kind allow you to become far more engrossed in the games surroundings. This is because our audio and visual senses are overridden by shutting out the sights and sounds of the physical space that you're in.
Now that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has already shown that a survival horror game can function both as a survival horror game on the television and a VR game.
Here, I've compiled a list of games that would find more success with Virtual Reality support.
Outlast is definitely a game that would benefit from VR. It’s dripping in atmosphere with tight but dark passageways and the absolute feeling of disempowerment would lend itself very well to VR.
There is unofficial support for the VR on the PC. However, it would be really beneficial for both fans and developers to get official support and with PlayStation VR helping to push VR into the mainstream. It could add more replayability and potentially more sales with PS4 VR gamers clamoring to get the best experiences possible.
Psychological horror is where Soma shines because the atmosphere builds on this style of horror rather than conventional scares. This is what make this game such an effective horror experience.
Your character wakes up at the bottom of the ocean in an abandoned research facility. The events that then pass in the game truly make you doubt your surroundings, and it's those surroundings that draw you into its atmosphere. The sound design in this game is some of the best I’ve heard since the likes of Dead Space and Bioshock.
For those reasons and VR’s ability to transport you to another world Soma would find good success. Along with the play to your senses it would be a perfect combination.
Among The Sleep is a horror game that puts you in the body of a young toddler. It’s a unique horror game that takes feeling defenseless and helpless to push it to a new level of disempowerment.
Through the eyes of a child everything is so much bigger and larger than life. There's even a tense situation when being unable to reach for the door handle. The ability to play this game in VR would add so much more to the immersion of the already foreboding experience.
The developers Krillbite were working on a VR experience for the Rift and there was an alpha build of the demo but the project was cancelled according to the studios blog
The studio did however mention the possibility of working on new demo using Among The Sleep’s assets.
Fatal Frame/Project Zero
The Fatal Frame series are effective and scary survival horror games that take a lot of inspiration from Japanese horror films like The Grudge and The Ring. The games found a lot of success on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, Wii and the Nintendo Wii U.
Unfortunately the formula had started grow stale with its most recent title Fatal Frame: Maiden of The Black Water receiving mixed reviews. Although it did receive praise for its innovative use of the Nintendo Wii U gamepad as a viewpoint for the Camera Obscura.
The success of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard had in rejuvenating the series from a brand new perspective. This could work for the Fatal Frame series too. If the developers could find new way to adapt the first person viewpoint of the Camera Obscura -- like they did with the Wii U pad in a new way. VR could help breathe new life into the series.
Alien Isolation is one of the most effective horror experiences recent years. The small tight metallic corridors, the claustrophobic feeling of darkness and the level of detail that totally makes you feel that you’re immersed in the experience of the original film.
The experience becomes a lot more powerful when explored through VR. As showcased by the VR demo for the Oculus Rift, all the minor details really come to life and the darkness completely surrounds you. The sense of powerlessness comes to life with the audio design -- Every creak and noise in the vents above and underneath you becomes really unnerving in the 3D sound.
The biggest shame for Alien: Isolation was the fact that VR support never made it past the demo stage and while there is a way to get VR to work on the PC there was never any official support for it.
It may be wishful thinking, but now that VR’s popularity is picking up steam with support for home consoles, It could be the perfect time to patch in VR and give Alien: Isolation the extra sales and exposure it deserves.
Survival horror has made quite the return in recent times and it has been the perfect showcase for Virtual Reality with games like the new Resident Evil and the forthcoming Paranormal Activity.
The reason why horror games work so well on VR is the pace can be deliberately slow. It also helps hide the limitations of the technology. Resident Evil has also shown that games on VR can also be every bit as effective on the television too – as well as breathe new life into franchises that are becoming tired and outdated.
If developers would be willing to patch in VR support for games like Alien: Isolation or Outlast there’s a good possibility of increasing sales for the titles as well creating an almost new experience for the games.