Whenever I stumble across a PlayStation 4 horror game, with the ‘PlayStation VR features’ stamped all over, I usually do a 180 degree turn, and run as far away as it is humanly possible. This is because nearly every single first-person horror with tacked on VR features, is nothing more than an hour long hide-and-seek simulator which offers little to no substance. Worst of all, VR horror games are usually plagued by underwhelming visuals, and horrendous performance and as much as I’d like to say that Rise of Insanity is an exception to the above outlined rule, then unfortunately, I cannot.
First of all, I’d like to underline that Rise of Insanity is not one of those hide-and-seek games, where you move from one locker to another, while avoiding an insta-death hostile who is trying to hunt you down, whenever you are in his/her sight. It is an adventure game where horror is sourced from the atmosphere and jump scares, as the gameplay of Rise of Insanity is all about discovery, and some very light trouble solving. While it does feature two quote-on-quote stages which are all about your reflexes, then those are not particularly demanding, as the second one especially can be cleared without the need to even slightly move the analogue stick.
Rise of Insanity is very light on gameplay, but the lack of interaction, ultimately allows you to take the world in as it is, and enjoy all of its nightmarish sights. However, and this is a big however, Rise of Insanity only features a handful of locations which are being recycled as you go. Sure, those locations do change a little, as you make your way to the final credits, but besides of the final 15 minutes, you spend most of your time within an asylum, residential premises, and a greenhouse. This wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, if not for the fact that even the locations which you get to explore time and time again, are particularly pleasant to look at.
Visually, Rise of Insanity pales in comparison to games such as Layers of Fear, _Observer, and Outlast. Sure, it has been made by a relatively small and new indie studio, and certainly on a limited budget. But so was the original Outlast, all the way back in 2013 and that title was also made by a small studio on an equally meagre budget, but it looked much better – and does so to this date. The only edge which Rise of Insanity has over Outlast, and many other horror games, is that it is incredibly responsive, as it is free of all the unnecessary delay and painfully slow controls, which plague the horror genre in this day and age.
Rise of Insanity may not be a world beater, and in fact, it will surely go unnoticed by the vast majority of PlayStation 4 users, but to its credit, it has some solid, intense and climactic moments, which many other games of the genre could be envious of. However, those moments are often ruined by the title’s rather poor technical side, as character animations’ comedic nature – to put it nicely, and the title’s inability to project liquid, turns some otherwise classic horror moments, into comedy gold and ultimately, such turn the title’s high points into nothing more than forgettable intermissions.
As you progress through Rise of Insanity, the gameplay get more and more surreal, as you get far removed from the familiar environments and placed within blood red tunnels and plain white locales, which are just like the tunnels, but they’re simply devoid of their ceilings. Those sections, while welcomed for their variety, are rather dull, and largely unnecessary, as they add very little to the overall plot, and for the most part feature collectibles, and other items which you’ve mostly seen before. What makes them worse, is the fact that they’ve been seemingly put together at the very last moment, as the boulders which make up the walls and ceilings, have large visible gaps in between them and the textures throughout those locales, are rather simplistic, as one location simply features a plain white floor, with no detail to it.
While playing Rise of Insanity I couldn’t shake the feeling that the studio behind it simply lost interest in it, somewhere half-way through development, as the second you start up the headlights of a Volkswagen van, the title turns from horror mystery into a quite literal walking simulator. The locations get more simplistic, collectibles and narrative exposition is pretty much gone, and the final few sequences seem like they’ve been added just for the sake of extending title’s lifetime. It feels like even the studio behind Rise of Insanity, simply couldn’t be bothered to see the title to its conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong, Rise of Insanity just like any other narrative driven game has its finale, but what precedes it is rather pathetic. Overall, the story itself is a cliché ridden copout – even before the developer has decided to throw it out the window and I believe that the studio behind the title has realised that Rise of Insanity is not the high-brow entertainment which it would perhaps like it to be, and somewhere halfway through the development it has decided to cut its losses, release it as is, and hopefully move onto the next project. Hopefully it does, because the early chapters of Rise of Insanity show some real promise, but unfortunately such are not enough to carry the game as a whole.
To conclude, all that really has to be said about Ride of Insanity, that it is certainly not the next Layers of Fear, even though it was also developed in Poland. While it may satisfy some with its Hollywood’esque narrative, and moments of tension – then it is more than likely to succumb to the depths of PlayStation 4 unnoticed. But its last gen price tag may be enough to sway some into purchasing it, as it is much, much cheaper than the vast majority of modern indies and this may just be enough to keep it within the limelight for at least some time.
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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Rise of Insanity Review
Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 4/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
Rise of Insanity feels like a grand passion project, which has been forgotten and abandoned halfway through development.