Storytelling is an exact art; done well and its engaging and deeply captivating; done badly and people will quickly lose interest and move on. Some videogame developers succeed in doing this, creating an immersive world that players want to explore and unravel the secrets held within. Michael Conelly a visual effects specialist from the film industry wrote a gothic horror book titled The Abbot’s Book many years ago, and with virtual reality (VR) catching a lot of creative eyes he’s now brought that story to life.
The Abbot’s Book centres around a cursed family in 17th century-Italy. Underneath their estate lurks ancient catacombs which holds the shadow of a long forgotten god. Also within these dark cavernous ruins is a mysterious book that has a corrupting influence over the family. The story unfolds over four generations, with your character hoping to stop it by venturing into the deep.
Developed for HTC Vive you start outside in a field, where you’ll see an old monk trying to dissuade you from going, warning you of the horrors that await. The Abbot’s Book wisely takes some cues from other VR titles by employing a teleportation movement mechanic. Holding the trigger on either controller will bring up a shining area, letting go will take you there; its quick and simple, working well for VR.
It takes a little while to move towards the catacombs, the monk always following behind you; talking occasionally. All that you have with you is a flaming torch, on the right hand controller. Lighting the gloom the real-time lighting really helps to set the tone, look over a cliff and the light helps you see that little bit further; bring it towards a statue and the flickering flame dances over the stone creating deep dramatic shadows that only helps to accentuate the eeriness.
There seems to be a lot of promise in The Abbot’s Book, setting up for a horror story tale that will be released in eight episodes. While this early introduction is compelling its remains to be seen if that rich story can translate into an immersive VR videogame.