I’ve said it before that if there’s one genre that will help VR take off then it would be the horror genre, with Resident Evil 7 now months old and still in my opinion the VR’s no.1 there has been nothing to really challenge its top spot until now.
Paranormal Activity the Lost Souls has been designed and built from the ground up for VR and once you strap on your PSVR headset you will realise the startling difference this offers from the add-on VR titles.
The game begins with you approaching the typical scary house on a typical dark street equipped with just a flash light and it’s here you can test out your movement functions to prepare yourself for the horror’s that lie within.
Graphically it’s a pretty looking game with a well designed creepy house with lots of rooms and items for exploration along with the dark spots you always seem attracted to, but for me the main let down are your floating hands.
Yes, most VR games have these (Batman/RE7 deserve a mention) but the lost soul’s hands seem to move through everything in the environment unless your attempting to pick something up. This could be ignored in a standard game but in VR it blurs that fine line VR players are attempting to sit on – the gaming/reality line.
Luckily in the house you can pick up or interact with almost everything you see which is something you will find yourself doing a lot as this game has object based progression.
Some doors are open from the start but some require keys to be found further on in the game, draws around the house hold vital clues but strangely only some can be opened with no clear indication as to what ones do and don’t, so you will have to open literally every draw, every door and collect every note or taped message, just one missed item can see you stuck not knowing what you need to do to move on, so make sure you check every inch of the house – even the dark area’s.
The games premise doesn’t run along side any of the movies and see’s you tasked with piecing together the secrets held within the house through basic exploration, these sometimes-mundane sections of the game are littered with some extremely jumpy sections so I do recommend ensuring your PSVR headset is on tight enough.
But the one thing this game does and does well is atmosphere – from the title screen onwards you are constantly checking your surroundings with your dimly lit flashlight (batteries are required to keep it going so that’s another reason to check EVERYTHING).
That unease in the pit of your stomach is a constant feeling throughout its short playtime and I removed my headset more than once to take a breather and settle my nerves which is something Resident Evil (as good as it was) didn’t make me feel I needed to do.
Sound once again helps the game to achieve its end goal- 3d audio highlights every moan and groan of the house, doors and floorboards creak; wind whistles outside and all manor of paranormal happenings are well presented in audio form adding to the already fear inducing visuals.
For me the audio of horror either in movies or game’s is the major factor in determining how scary it’s going to be – try watching a horror movie or playing a scary game with no sound and it just doesn’t seem as horrifying.
Player controls have currently one option and they are the move controllers which utilise every single button available, this can be a little baffling at the start but soon becomes almost second nature towards the end.
My only real gripe with the controls is the limited incremental turning movements which is something I personally dislike in VR as it detracts you a little from the game world, I fully understand some players require this for motion sickness issue’s but the smooth option should always be available on every VR game.
Note: Developers VRWERX are working on an update for using the Dualshock 4 but I personally can’t see how this would work removing that feeling of hands in your hands?
Although it’s listed as a VR game I certainly wouldn’t class it as such, running in as little as 2.5 hour’s (50 mins if you know all item locations) it’s a VR experience with some quality game design and truly terrifying set pieces to raise it above similar available experiences.
Paranormal Activity the Lost Souls sets out to scare the player and does so in spades but with limited gameplay time (even with a second play through for the alternative ending), some bad collision detection, progression sticking points and limited VR turning options it feels very dated and at times boring, adding to that the over pricing as per VR titles I feel it has missed its greatest opportunity to out shine PSVR’s greatest horror title to date.
Once again though I can whole heartedly recommend Paranormal Activity for all PSVR owners. It delivers exactly what your paying for and expecting – fear inducing jump scares but I can only recommend it once it receives a price drop which is something I don’t expect too soon as it’s already discounted?
Paranormal Activity is PSVR’s second best horror game but with many more horror titles due this year I don’t think it will hold this place for too long.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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