If you like a good scare then virtual reality (VR) is the place to be. Once you’ve tried VR horror then films or standard videogames just don’t cut it anymore, with studio’s finding evermore inventive ways to make you jump and scream. There tends to be two types of horror experience, the ones where you’re armed and can headshot those nasty creatures in the dark, or the pure survival titles, where you’re given a torch and not much else. It’s this latter category that Cosmic Awakening VR fits into, with developer 3D Generations going for the Alien Isolation approach to build suspense.
Cosmic Awakening VR has two modes, Story and Eight Pages. The story revolves around you arriving at a space station only to find it seemingly abandoned. There’s no hint of the crew or their whereabouts, just belongings sat in lockers and rooms. The videogame ramps up the tension straight away with the lights suddenly failing, plunging you into almost complete darkness, with just a few red emergency lights lighting the way. Thankfully you’re giving a torch that attaches to the back of either hand to illuminate those dark corners. Other than the torch there’s not a lot else that’s practically usable.
3D Generations has gone for teleportation as its movement of choice, which can be activated using either controller. Whilst it certainly detracts from the immersion – and suspense – to a degree, the entire ambiance of Cosmic Awakening VR is enough that you’re still on edge. The studio has definitely taken its time to create an experience that makes you suddenly look around at any weird noise or movement, with the audio barely letting up as you scour the hallways and rooms looking for clues about what happened.
Whilst there are plenty of items to pick up and interact with – at one point there’s a table tennis bat and ball to play with – very few actually have any use. For the most part you just need to find key cards to unlock doors, with a few achievement collectibles to find along the way. As stated, this is a pure survival videogame, but rather than stealth being used once you find what’s caused the disappearance of the crew all you can do is run.
The second mode, Eight Pages, is designed to add some replay factor into this single-player experience. You’re tasked with finding eight pieces of paper littered around the space station. The mode is procedurally generated, so while the station remains the same the page locations don’t. While hunting them down you’re also pursued by the monstrous creature that killed the crew. You’ll hear it coming but once it’s found you that’s pretty much the end, as the closer it gets the more impeded your vision becomes.
Cosmic Awakening VR has all the hallmarks of a great VR horror title. The entire playthrough felt dramatic and tense the entire time, with really nice spatial audio that means you’re constantly on your guard. What was lacking was stuff to actually do, simply running (teleporting) around finding key cards isn’t really enough to warrant buying a videogame, so hopefully there’s more to come, as the rest is shaping up well.