Love it or hate it, the horror genre has found a natural home on virtual reality (VR) headsets. No other entertainment technology has the ability to put you right in there with the screams and terrifying shadows. Yet horror has its nuances just like all the rest, whether that’s psychological, jump scares, gore, or just plain terror. Indie developer Red Limb Studio first tried its hand at virtual reality (VR) development with horror shooter The Purge Day, a basic scary wave shooter in 2016. The team decided to up the ante with its next project Rise of Insanity, creating a twisted psychological horror that’s definitely not for the faint hearted.
Rise of Insanity is your classic story driven adventure into madness, so it’s linear, very linear. If you like videogames that give you lots of freedom to figure things out for yourself, rather than being almost handheld then this isn’t the title for you. Rise of Insanity will suit those that do like a good horror style story and don’t mind the fact that exploration is kept to a minimum.
What’s notable to begin with is that Rise of Insanity isn’t a pure VR experience, VR support has been added, so it’s purely seated – there’s no crumpling to the floor when something scares you. Because of this it’ll say its best played with a gamepad or keyboard mouse. While the first is fine (if you have a gamepad) the second is definitely out of the question. Thankfully you don’t have to use either, as you’ll find in the settings menu motion controller options.
What this does mean however is that Rise of Insanity only includes smooth locomotion (there’s no teleport), with an option to switch on snap rotation if you need it. While it was perfectly comfortable with the standard settings some players may find just having smooth movement a little too nauseating, especially when things start turning dark.
Rise of Insanity is set in a big old house with you playing as Stephen Dowell a doctor of psychology. In terms of gameplay it’s all about looking for items/clues that can help unravel the mystery of a family tragedy, with a few puzzles on route that really aren’t that difficult – find a key to unlock a door, or look for a code to a padlock. Due to the linearity of the experience there’s not a lot of items to actually interact with, and they’re all easy to spot as a hand indicator appears when you’re nearby.
What Rise of Insanity is good at is atmosphere. You spend the majority of the time alone so hearing the rain and wind rattle the windows, or the TV hissing away are classic techniques that work well. Bear in mind that Rise of Insanity has its fair amount of jump scares, some of which are obvious, others less so. They’re the type that do put people off playing these types of horror experiences but they do work great at getting the heart pumping.
Looking great in some scenes and rather basic in others, Rise of Insanity is still a solidly put together experience. The storyline, sound effects and voice acting are all of a decent quality, but the English translation on some of the in-game literature needs some work. Difficulty is virtually none existent so it’s a breeze to play through in around two hours. If you’re looking for a short, digestible horror then Rise of Insanity is a sound bet, just watch out for those rubber ducks.