Virtual Reality (VR) is a medium that perfectly lends itself to bringing the fantastical to life. Many traditional horror tropes rely on a fear of the supernatural: ghosts, zombies, demons—things you wouldn’t be able to experience in real-life. VR gives us the ability to put someone in the middle of these scenarios and raise the scare-factor to a whole new level.
Traditional 2D horror films rely on a host of techniques to create a sense of fear, but the user can turn away if they find something too overwhelming. With VR, there’s nowhere to hide! Creating a horror experience for virtual reality is a delicate balance of inducing terror, but not so much that the user abandons the headset after only a few minutes.
Research has shown that when humans become shocked, we stop being able to empathize and consider what’s going on as our body goes into the “fight or flight” response. Therefore, users need to be gently lowered into a horror experience and have the tension gradually built up so as to retain a sense of realism.
We also have to remember that users are not watching 2D content on a screen, so a lot of the usual safety mechanisms are gone. A little scare goes far further in VR than on a TV screen. Jump scares can actually be physically dangerous in VR as a user will move away from what has scared them. The psychology of VR is yet to be deeply researched. People remember “being there” from VR, instead of remembering “watching” something—those memories are far longer lasting and possibly far more damaging to the psyche.
Despite any concerns, there is no denying that this genre of VR is extremely engaging and addictive. Horror fans already have a wealth of experiences to tap into and with Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d put together my top picks. Available for Oculus Quest or Rift or Rift S, these experiences are guaranteed to give you the goosebumps!
Drop Dead: Dual Strike Edition
Drop Dead is a thrilling story that makes the best of the Quest’s 6DOF capabilities. In this zombie slashing title, you choose your weapons and team up with friends in Horde mode to hack and slash your way through the post-apocalyptic world. Duck, dip, dodge, and dive to avoid the onslaught of zombies and make the best of the tetherless headset. The art style of this game ensures that the experience isn’t too scary, but will still keep even the most hardened of horror fans on their toes.
Oculus Quest / Rift S – £10.99
The Exorcist: Legion VR
Set in an Academy award-winning world created by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist will teach you the art of demonic exorcism to uncover secrets and battle your darkest fears. With replayable levels and hidden Easter eggs, no two games of The Exorcist will be the same. A mixture of skin-crawling tension and perfectly timed jump scares make this game a wonderfully creepy addition to this list.
Oculus Quest / Rift S / Rift – £18.99
Face Your Fears 2
Explore the long-abandoned home of the Harvest Family and uncover their dark and twisted secrets in Face Your Fears 2. The game is divided into two “spine-tingling” chapters set in the grounds of a spooky mansion—the first placing you into the body of someone trying to track down their sister, who went missing at a party in the mansion. In the second chapter, you are a paranormal investigator digging around the mansion, searching for clues to uncover the evil that resides there. This game has plenty of little jump scares and follows a fairly simple puzzle-solving gameplay. My only critique is that I wish there was more!
Oculus Quest / Rift S – £14.99
Curfew: Join The Race
This interactive, scripted adventure lands you on the starting grid of an illegal street race, inspired by the Sky drama, Curfew. You meet your driver, “Eduardo” and the mysterious “Helena” who communicates to you from her hideout over CB radio. As co-pilot, the user can make choices to push on the narrative and ultimately try and survive the night. Curfew: Join The Race is filled with tension with the threat of being captured by the police, while a spooky twist at the end will have you watching over your shoulder way after the experience.
Oculus Rift / Rift S – Free
Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted
This is the third spin-off of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, and in this installment, it is your mission to repair the broken animatronics or spend the evening keeping watch in the security guard’s office. The only trouble is that the animatronics can activate at any moment, and did I mention they were haunted and homicidal?! This cult-classic is absolutely jam-packed with jump scares that even the keenest gamers won’t be able to anticipate.
Oculus Rift / Rift S – £22.99
Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
Based on the hugely popular Paranormal Activity film franchise, The Lost Soul has been custom-built for VR. With no onscreen directions or Head-Up Display (HUD) to guide you, there is nothing to distract you as you explore a seemingly innocent suburban home. But you are not alone in the house—there are evil spirits hunting you down to stop you unraveling the truth about what happened there. This one certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted!
Oculus Rift / Rift S – £22.99
KOBOLD: Chapter I
KOBOLD is a new kind of horror experience that claims to “blur the line between cinema and VR gaming” as you become an investigator looking into the mysterious case of a missing boy. Intensely realistic visuals fully immerse you into the mystical world as you pick up clues and venture deeper into the forest, with potentially fatal consequences.
Oculus Rift / Rift S – £7.99
Disclaimer: REWIND created Curfew: Join The Race in partnership with Endemol Shine UK and Sky VR. Prices were all correct at time of publishing.
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