A GEARVR NEWS REVIEW
In This, You Don’t Get Goosebumps, its the Goosebumps That GET YOU!
I guess I really didn’t count on much here when downloading the app because, with a well-known actor like Jack Black making an appearance in this mobile VR game, I thought they’d blown their whole budget on voice overs alone. And therefore would have nothing left for development fees (haha).
So it was an amazing relief to me when my eyes first beheld the room we start the game in. Here was something truly special. I instantly felt the depth of the graphics and sat up in my chair: this game had my attention. The level of detail, the moody lamp, the pharaoh sarcophagus, the shadows bathing the room in black, sinusoidal shapes from a flickering fireplace lit by malevolent-orange flames … I had to pick my jaw off the floor. That turns out that’s a hard thing to do with an HMD stuck to one’s face ….
Or ... maybe I was just well primed for the safer feeling of the well-lit room. Those intro scenes had me unwound inside, so this room felt … nice. That’s right, the introduction which comes before the room I describe above features a darkened Study with crackling bolts of lightning outside the windows.
Every time the windows flash, there was a shadow of some beast lurking right where I wasn’t looking. But by the time I flicked my eyes over to see what it was, it would always be gone. That’s really freaky… and well played.
It’s almost as if GearVR could track my eye movements; nevertheless, this would be wrong since the current generation of hardware does not sport this feature. Eye Tracking is confirmed to be coming down the road, however. I assume developers Cosmic Forces would’ve researched the time length it takes an average user to look over after spotting motion out of the corner of their eye.
Through rigorous testing, they would figure out the best moment to whisk the monsters away so we couldn’t ever see them. It’s a cool and fear-inducing concept that does truly work. Although I knew they would try to do that to me again, I still jumped out of my skin every time. Scary!
The idea of this Goosebumps game, like the movie, centers around finding the missing pages in a book that, when not present, allow the horrid little munchin‘ (seen in the photo above) to run around our world unleashing mayhem. Or … for the sake of this demo, just laughing at you really loud and being a pest.
It’s his accomplices who are the scary forces you must contend with here. And at each new level, they only get scarier. From half-drunk zombies that moan grotesquely while lumbering around looking for you (sometimes walking right through walls, a bug I’m sure), to maniacal clowns who remind me of the serial killer BTK, to GIANT werewolves … this game has some really terrifying monsters.
It isn’t just the monsters that are scary, it’s the psychology of the game-play aspects that get to you, too.
You must hide to stay alive. Hiding is the first multiplayer game we all learn to play as little kids. It teaches us how to be wary (survival), to look out for things (detection), deducing what works to fool others (illusion), through rigorous experimentation (endurance), putting our bodies in different spaces to see how we fit (spatial-dimension comprehension), plus tons of other things children need to learn to survive in this world.
As we age, we put such games away; now … hiding is … only for emergencies. Another game, Dead Secret, uses this same dynamic, only not as much as this title leans on it.
The hiding system here is the main function of the game, unlike in Dead Secret where it’s just one small aspect. Good thing there are so many places to hide. But fair warning, some places aren’t safe, and may not work out for you.
Also, just because you can hide doesn’t mean you will get away with it. Choose your spot carefully. This time around, you spend a majority of your time hiding from the monsters, which psychologically causes you to regress. You begin to re-learn old fears that, as adults, we have long put away.
The game really gets more under your skin the more you play it. Hiding under the bed really does a number on me, I have to tell you. But it was worth it to feel that alive again. That’s why this app has quickly become my favorite new VR flavor of the week.
IS FEAR A FACTOR … FOR YOU?:
The Following Contains Spoilers I Feel Necessary to Warn Timid Players....
At level three, I walked into a room that at first glance appeared empty and saw one of the missing pages floating in the air in the darkened room. I flipped on the light switch and advanced toward the page. It was only when I’d already confirmed my advance forward (and was now doing so) that my eyes caught the clown’s hair poofing up from behind the very couch I was advancing towards! “Oh GOD!” slipped out in my apartment.
I jumped off my real couch and heard empty bottles of cola clinking one off the other as I tried to stop the screaming. There is about a 2-3 second lag time while you try to move forward to the next target spot (similar to Matterport, just how its motion system works).
During that 3-second window (which hung in the air like a dagger over my head), the clown made a giggly noise and I saw him arrive beside me, preparing to eviscerate me. I begged the universe to let that movement bar turn full green so I could escape. Oh, please!
But just as I saw it reach 99%, it was too late: the clown had me. (Stephen King himself would have liked this clown!) Oh how he laughed so giddily while chopping me apart BTK style. The jolt of fear was palpable in my spine.
I fell back into my chair, shaking, my heart still stuck in the air where I’d left it. No…. there are much scarier moments here than in Dead Secret. That’s what I’m trying to warn you about. If you’re the wrong personality type, you might be over-terrified by this one.
This games starts out at Dead Secret level, but by Stage 3 is closer to Dreadhalls!
One real aspect to the power behind the fear comes from the game’s excellent use of sound. The thunder which crackles ominously outside the house is so loud and visceral you’ll be grinding your teeth to try to self medicate your mind away from the sensation.
If you like to be scared, keep the volume high, but if you don’t like to be scared, turn down the volume. You can slightly control your own fear level with this suggestion. Aren’t I so nice?
There is also no sound track to make you feel safe. It’s like the real world. Real quiet … until it’s not. You get me?
The werewolves’ growls are horrific. The clown is psychologically traumatizing. On one level, a nice little dog who wouldn’t harm a fly barks at you if you stay too long in one spot, alerting the bad guys to your location.
At each level, the game gets harder to survive. Dying is harsh and numbs you like a spinal tap: meaning you really don’t want to experience it again.
This title is a real surprise coming out of Left field to the delight of those with a love of being frightened half out of your skin. And on that score, this one really steps up to the plate. Fair warning, every death animation is a jump scare.
But there are plenty of other psychological scares here, too, like having things hunting for you while you are hiding and are able to see them going about hunting you just inches from your face.
Sometimes, hiding doesn’t work, either, as hiding isn’t a guarantee of anything. That was a smart move on the developer’s part because it makes even the safe zones … a little unsafe. Nothing is entirely worry free, just like in the real world.
However, what was safe, it seems, was porting this app over from Android. That’s one safe bet for Cosmic Forces, since the app has already sold over 50K – 100K copies on Android despite being only rendered in 2D there. And it’s waaaaaay better in VR!
This game might be based on a kid’s movie, but it’s really not for kids. It says “For 7 and Up” on the Google Play Store website, but I highly doubt that. Not unless you’re the kind of parents who don’t mind sitting up all night nursing a freaked-out kid who can’t sleep … from nightmares.
And even if you do somehow survive all the levels, it might just be YOU who ends up having nightmares! And that’s on you now, because hey, you have been … WARNED.
This game contains no motions sickness features, so I rate it … very comfortable.
Cosmic Forces Earns the GearVR News “Award for Excellence!”