Immersion. It’s the cornerstone of every great horror game. If the player isn’t immersed in the terrors that surround them, they won’t feel the intended fear and the whole thing can fall flat. To truly engage players, developers used to have to rely solely on atmosphere, sound design, lighting, and effective in-game mechanics. Thanks to virtual reality, there’s another layer that quite literally draws them into the experience.
Virtual reality is the cheese to the horror macaroni. They go together so perfectly that you have to wonder why every new horror title doesn’t come with VR compatibility. To showcase just how well VR and horror pair, we’ve compiled this breakdown of the best VR horror games. If it’s a fright you’re looking for, slip into a pair of virtual reality glasses and get lost in worlds filled with terrors sure to haunt your dreams.
For having such a delightful name, Arizona Sunshine is actually really gory and piled with rotting corpses. The zombie-shooter is a worthwhile entry in any virtual reality library, if not just for the ability to pop zombie heads in full-VR glory.
The gameplay may not be as in-depth as VR titles like Pavlov, but that doesn’t take away from the meat of the experience – killing zombies. As you cross the Arizona desertscape using artificial free-roaming, you’ll scour abandoned cars and empty buildings for supplies, bullets, and your escape from this virtual reality hell.
Arizona Sunshine is relentless with its waves of shamblers, but putting them down doesn’t get old. Equipped with an arsenal of dual-wield pistols, submachine guns, grenades, sniper rifles, and shotguns, you’ll be leaving behind piles of bodies to rot in the desert sun.
14. Alien: Isolation (MotherVR)
Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega VR Platform(s): Oculus
If ever there was a game that needed virtual reality compatibility, it was Alien: Isolation. Though it didn’t have it at launch, the MotherVR mod (get it?) created by Zack Fannon rectifies what feels like a glaring oversight, especially since Isolation was demoed on the Oculus Rift’s second development kit.
The slow pacing of Alien: Isolation makes it a great candidate for best VR game, and the MotherVR mod makes promising use of the core gameplay. Exploration throughout Sevastopol is enhanced through virtual reality, giving you more of an opportunity to take in the incredible level of detail Creative Assembly put into the space station. It’s not all leisurely strolls through a desolate structure, however. When the xenomorph shows up, you may start to regret the VR. Not because it ruins the experience, but because nobody wants to be that close to the inner jaws of the galactic killer.
MotherVR may make some of the animations a little wonky, but it’s an overall smooth experience that makes hiding from the deadly xenomorph quite a bit more intense.
13. A Chair in a Room: Greenwater
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive, Ltd. Publisher: Wolf & Wood Interactive, Ltd. VR Platform(s): Vive
What comes to mind when you think of religious killings, corruption, and immorality? Probably a top-rated virtual reality horror experience, right? A Chair in a Room comes with heavy themes, which help drive a pretty deep narrative that starts in The Greenwater Institute. As Patient 6079, you’re plagued with twisted visions, likely linked to the past you can no longer remember.
A Chair in a Room is divided up into six relatively short but effective chapters. Players will be sent spiraling into the horrors of Patient 6079’s past as they explore a world ripe with detailed environments and rich storytelling. If you’re in the mood for an in-your-face horror title, you may not appreciate A Chair in a Room’s more subtle approach to the genre.
The VR gameplay only serves to further immerse players in the ramshackled towns, derelict motels, and swamps of the Deep South.
Developer: Endnight Games Publisher: Endnight Games VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus
From the horrifying plane crash to that first time you run into cannibalistic natives, The Forest’s gameplay is tenser than ever with a virtual reality headset. The vibrant landscapes of the peninsula come to life, especially as the sun sets and the deadly inhabitants emerge in droves.
While battling off cannibals is a large part of your survival experience, you’re also tasked with gathering food and other supplies to survive the elements long enough to find your son and escape the island
The Forest is quite an extensive game to play in VR and its non-linearity can be intimidating, but the longer you play, the more you grow accustomed to it. When you get used to the gameplay is when you can really feel how much virtual reality amplifies the horrors of The Forest. There are a few missteps in the translation to VR, but they don’t take away from the terror of hearing a cannibal’s distant cry through your headset.
“Any issues I had with The Forest didn’t stop it from becoming the definitive survival experience on console in my eyes, however. If you’re yet to try the game on PC, its PS4 version is a surprisingly sleek and arguably just as rewarding time-sinker that won’t even make you feel bad for being a terrible parent. Sorry, Timmy, I am one with the trees now.”
Developer: SpectreVision/Ubisoft Montreal Publisher: Ubisoft VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus, PSVR
You’d be surprised just how unsettling your own home can be. Raymond and his family find out first-hand in Transference, an immersive psychological thriller. Players control each of the three family members as they try to piece back together their troubled familial unit. Each member has their own corrupted vision of one another, which leads to Transference’s darkest moments. There aren’t many outright scares, but you’ll start to feel uneasy the deeper you get into each character’s mind.
Transference is a twisted experience that’s brought to life with striking visuals that help drive the narrative. Live-action actors help the story feel more real, even as reality starts to bend and the familiar setting of a suburban home deteriorates and becomes uncomfortable.
Gameplay is primarily based on exploration and solving puzzles, making Transference an ideal virtual reality game, especially to those new to the medium.