I remember the first few horror games I played on the original PS VR. I was astounded with the way those games used grungy settings and moldy food to create an atmosphere that was undeniably creepy. Make a VR game dark and have stuff pop out of the shadows, and you've created something that could be generally considered a pretty good time.
Enter Afterlife VR, a new horror title on PS VR2, developed by Split Light Studio and published by Perp Games. Afterlife VR is what I would consider a "general VR horror" title; there isn't much going on here that breaks the mold, but it does what it sets out to do pretty well. Set your expectations to "Layers of Fear Lite", and you'll be in a good mindset for this game.
Afterlife VR follows the misadventures of rookie cop Adam Bernhard. Called out to the Black Rose mental hospital while on a lonely midnight patrol, Adam arrives to find the place generally deserted, with the exception of some creepy bald guys that like to hide in corners and writhe on the floor. (They also seem to be super into hanging themselves, so if that bothers you, consider yourself warned.) The Black Rose looks like it has been abandoned for years, which bewilders Adam. As he says in his I-can't-quite-identify-what-European-country-it-comes-from accent, his sister was recently sent to the Black Rose for undisclosed reasons. Upon arrival, Adam kinda feels like there should be more people and less trash in the lobby, so he starts poking around to see what's going on.
And from here, you know exactly what this game is going to do. You will solve a few puzzles, find a few keys, and wander down some poorly lit hallways. You will have a flashlight that is constantly running low on batteries, a gun with probably too much ammo to create tension, and a few other tools. You have a watch on your wrist that reveals your heartbeat, with the expectation that you keep your heart rate under 200 BPM by injecting "medicine" you find laying around this dump. And of course, things are going to go bump in the darkness, and stuff will jump out at you.
And yes, there is moldy food in the fridges. And blood on the walls. And some little weird bald rats hanging around in cages. The atmosphere is appropriately dire. In fact, in real life, I went to visit an abandoned mental health facility in West Virginia a few years back. When it was abandoned, water was left running through the pipes, which burst the first winter. The building then sat for years, with water either running freely or freezing, depending on the season. The interior went to crap pretty quickly. The point? Afterlife VR does a pretty good job of replicating the look and feel of a place like this. Everything in the game felt vaguely familiar, strangely enough. This video game wasteland mental health hospital looks just like the real-world wasteland mental health hospital. The real world had less creepy dead guys, I guess.
Implementation-wise, Afterlife VR is pretty solid. It allowed me to play seated, which my old man knees appreciate. Comfort-wise, I went with the default - smooth movement forward and back, and 45 degree turns - and felt comfortable the entire time I played. The framerate never dipped, and while the graphics aren't exactly next-gen, the place felt real enough that I jumped a few times when the game threw things into my face. The flashlight effect works pretty well, too. A late game mechanic that I won't spoil here was fine.
I found the inventory system to be a bit finicky, but it wasn't nearly as bad as some I've played with. I did think that things felt a little unbalanced at times; I found a mountain of ammo for my gun, but struggled to keep my flashlight running. And I sometimes fumbled around, clacking my controllers together when trying to put a new battery in my flashlight, but it wasn't entirely unmanageable. The puzzles were fairly easy to solve, but just obscure enough to make me feel like a smart guy when I figured them out. The limited shooting worked fine, and I even got a trophy for popping "patients" in the head, which made me feel like a bit of a sicko.
The story and performances were pretty run-of-the-mill in an amusing sort of way, and really, what can one expect from a fifteen dollar horror game? If you're a VR horror fan, you've likely seen a lot of this stuff before, but that doesn't make it bad, just a bit unoriginal. Lots of folks will be able to beat this in one sitting; it took me two one-hour sessions to see the end of the game. So, if game length is a super big deal to you, you might not find this to your liking. I found the length to be appropriate to the game and the subject matter. Two hours was just about enough for Afterlife VR to show me all its tricks, and I was fine with that.
Afterlife VR delivers a pretty standard VR horror experience. It's low budget, but in an agreeable sort of way. This game isn't going to blow anybody's mind, but it did a nice job killing a rainy afternoon, and I was satisfied with that.
Creepy enough in a low-budget, cookie-cutter sort of way, Afterlife VR gets a lot of milage out of darkness and sound design. VR horror fans won't find much new here, but the gameplay isn't offensively bad, and I enjoyed my two hour playthrough well enough. Decent puzzles, some functional - though limited - shooting. Worth a look, especially for it's very reasonable selling price.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile