Let me start off by saying that I despise playing horror games. The constant feeling of helplessness, the jump scares, and the eerie setting that would otherwise be relatively normal if it weren’t for the creepy music. I just dislike it all. Now, I do like horror movies. Quite the juxtaposition I know, but I would rather sit and laugh at all the stupid characters running in abject fear than being that character myself.
Rise of Insanity is a new VR horror title from Red Limb Studio where you play a psychiatrist Doctor Dowell (I think – the game is a bit confusing), whose patient might or might not have murdered his wife and child. The game takes place in the 70’s somewhere in the United States. Rise of Insanity is available on Steam Early Access for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with a $6.99 price tag.
Check out the trailer below:
She Haunts Your Memories. Or is It Real?
The overall art style and object textures in Rise of Insanity are solid and the developers definitely succeeded in creating an eerie and atmospheric environment coupled with the music. I got to play the game with an HTC Vive and was pleasantly surprised at some aspects of the game and horrified with others (and not in a good way).
In terms of the storyline, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a bit confusing. There are these cassette tapes spread throughout the game with recordings from a psychiatrist called Doctor Steven Dowell who talks about his experience with the main protagonist of the story. A man called Edward who is a gardener that suffers from a sleeping disorder that causes constant nightmares, as well as a memory disorder. I firstly have to say that the voice acting and sounds in the game is very well done and genuinely helped create an interest in progressing through the story. The notes found throughout the game, however, were often times confusing and looked like the developers used Google translate instead of an actual translator. So that definitely diminished the immersion.
As for the progression of the story, there were some interesting parts that definitely had me hooked wanting to know what happened to the wife and their boy, but other parts were strange and confusing. Like when I was traveling through strange tunnels. There were also a few puzzles in the game that wasn’t hard to figure out but made sense for the progression of the story. However, the story isn’t currently finished yet so some things (like the strange presence of birds throughout) might be explained with the full release.
The Gameplay Has Got Me Shaking My Head
Rise of Insanity is a seated or standing experience (if you own a controller). I really dislike seated VR games where you have to play with a mouse and keyboard. The experience with a controller is a bit better, but not by much, and since I don’t own one then it’s the keyboard and mouse for me. My main problem with this that Rise of Insanity decides you’re in the middle of your play space and so sets your in-game body in relation to the rest of the surroundings according to that. But no one has their desk in the middle of their play area and so, like many others – with my desk at the edge of my play area – the game felt a little off the whole time and I kept going through walls.
The movement in the game is another problem. I don’t generally get sick in VR games but this one got me pretty close. Not only because it’s a seated experience and I’m moving around with my keyboard but also because I move forward according to where my mouse points – not according to where I’m looking. Which is the strangest feeling. Add to that the fact that when I turn my head still looking anywhere but forward then it feels like I’m turning in a wide circle rather than just turning on the spot. It feels unnatural and is very immersion breaking.
Rise of Insanity also supports normal desktop play and at the moment it feels like Rise of Insanity is a click and point pc horror with VR tacked on as an afterthought. There’s a lot of optimization that still needs to happen before the game completes its EA run. However, the game does show potential and at a $6.99 price tag, I would say the hour of play available so far is worth it.