Preview: Face Your Fears 2 – Why’s it Always Spiders?
Face Your Fears heads to Oculus Quest, almost missing the point.
Every time a new piece of virtual reality (VR) technology is revealed, a horror experience is offered alongside it. As if the promise of heightened jump scares hasn’t waned over the last five years, Oculus Connect 5’s debut of the final Santa Cruz hardware – now known as Oculus Quest – comes complete with its own haunted house courtesy of Turtle Rock Studios.
The sequel to 2017’s ‘fear and phobia’ experience retreads familiar ground. The sequence available at Oculus Connect 5 begins with the player standing in a clearing by a wood, tasked with finding your missing younger sister. As you walk along a pathway and approach a house, a few simple clues tell you you’re heading in the right direction, while some boundaries trigger events that inform you it’s not going to be a simple case of hide-and-seek.
A later sequence has you explore a woodshed, in which nasty things and apparitions are designed to halt your progress. The phobia that this sequence is excited to push the boundaries of is arachnophobia: beginning with a small spider that jumps on to your hand there’s soon floods of them all over the floor, giant ones reaching through walls at you and swinging from the ceiling literally straight into your face. Yet all the while, all you want is to find a key.
The biggest issue here is that the design of the experience still relies on players moving beyond the boundaries of the demonstration area. Oculus Quest allows you to freely move and walk within an experience unlike any other VR device out there, so why are we still being constrained by analogue sticks for locomotion? While the demonstration build of Face Your Fears 2 was perfectly adequate for showcasing a lowbrow scare sequence in VR, it seems to somewhat fall short of expectations for a totally wireless 6 DoF head-mounted display (HMD).
Essentially, Face Your Fears 2 is hamstrung by the last two years of VR design. It’s built for a VR device that’s more limited than Oculus Quest, and uses the benefits that the new hardware adds in a purely superficial way: you can move freely, but the design if the videogame completely ignores that possibility. The additional comfort Oculus Quests offers is still welcome of course, but whether that alone is worth a $399 (USD) upgrade is definitely a matter for debate.
The demonstration build ends once you’ve faced the seemingly-endless aggression of spiders and manager to unlock the door to the house with the key you acquired along the way. So while Face Your Fears 2 presents a haunted house experience for Oculus Quest, we haven’t yet been given the chance to step inside. That, it seems, will have to wait until the device launches in Spring 2019.