If you’ve read any of my previous horror game reviews before then you’ll know that I have a general dislike for horror games, but there have been great ones that manage to pull me in and make the tiny hairs on my neck stand on end. There’s no doubt that virtual reality is a great medium for horror and thriller-based titles because it dials the scary factor up to pants peeing levels.
Even so, the overused horror tropes that many indie and AAA developers alike dump into their games like it’s a fruit punch that needs more kick is also much more pronounced in VR. Which is a sore spot of frustration, considering the new avenues of gameplay mechanics that VR lends itself to. So with a little originality and creativity, you can easily create a horror title that sticks out from the rest. Unfortunately, UK-based indie developer VDimension’s The Eerie Inn is not such a title.
Eerie music that occasionally hitches up a few decibels to let you know something scary is happening, jump scares, children suddenly running past an open door, random hushed voices, and that typical heartbeat sound that appears after anything creepy happens are all part of this macabrely common title’s offering. Even so, the immersion of VR meant that I still jumped a couple of times, to my embarrassment.
The Eerie Inn starts with you as Jen and your friend Kendra along a dusty road somewhere in Southern USA. After a long day of hiking you come upon a driver who points them to The Kinsey Inn. The ‘lovely’ couple who owns the inn apparently lost their boy to some unknown trauma. However, after arriving at the inn, some strange things start happening and you soon realize that the current owners aren’t who they seem to be, and the spirit of the boy helps you discover the truth.
Check out the trailer:
Areas that The Eerie Inn does excel at is its story, and walking and interaction mechanics. I specifically mention walking and interaction – and not gameplay mechanics – because The Eerie Inn is basically a walking simulator with some light puzzles and NPC interactions in-between. The game supports both trackpad and the Gear VR controller and lets you move and interact with objects and people by looking or pointing at them. The gameplay is pretty smooth and I didn’t have any hang-ups when trying to interact with anything.
No new or groundbreaking gameplay will be seen here, but the story does sort of make up for that. I think it stuck with me specifically because it’s so rare to have normal NPC interactions in a Gear VR game where they truly make you feel part of the story. Granted, the game still sticks to simple dialogue and no dialogue options, which means you’re simply along for the ride during every conversation. There are also simple things that break immersion like not seeing yourself in a mirror when passing by.
The visuals are passable, considering the limitations of a mobile-based platform. But I’ve definitely seen better character designs before and the environments felt bland most of the time.
So if you’re really into horror games then The Eerie Inn might entertain you with a short jolt of thrill here and there with a mysterious story to follow, but for the most part it’s going to leave you wanting something with more depth to it. Especially, since the game clocks in at under an hour, making the $4.99 price tag on the Oculus Store steep compared to games like Affected – The Manor and Dreadhalls.