It may not be the case these days but many a horror movie fan – or that of the found footage horror genre – has seen a Paranormal Activity film. The first movie in famous for its astonishingly low budget and amazing returns, spawning the horror film juggernaut that maintains relevance to this day. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the base for Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul, a VR game developed VRWERX for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. This won’t be the first time that Hollywood horror makes its transition into the gaming space but how is Paranormal Activity different and what does VR add to the nightmarish equation?
GamingBolt spoke to production/marketing manager Bradan Dotson about the game, including its connection to the films, the response by players thus far and what you can expect when stepping into its world for yourself.
"I feel like we’ve seen every type of reaction regarding the horror: pure terror, excited laughter, guy trying to act tough in front of his girlfriend who then loses his $&^."
Paranormal Activity has been an immensely successful horror film franchise (which kind of petered off near the end). What motivate the desire to bring it to VR?
Horror is such a visceral experience that lends itself well to VR. We were really excited at the prospect of immersing people into the mythology of ‘Paranormal Activity‘ because it lets us take the terror to the next level, while staying true to one of the most popular horror franchise of all time. This is what every horror fan has dreamed of, or had a nightmare about…
Most games have the creepy atmosphere and jump scares but Paranormal Activity VR seems to be built on the first film’s horror (more slow and deliberate leading to the finale). How do you translate that into the video game format while staying true to the film?
While I can’t say too much, I think it’s all about balancing the story and gameplay. We aren’t trying to create a fun house full of jump scares. It’s all about immersing the player as much as possible, and letting things unfold as organically as possible.
What can you tell us about the gameplay and how it stands out from other horror titles?
We’re really excited about the replay-ability. The fact that a whole group of friends can get together, play the game, laugh at each other, record each other’s reactions, and still have a completely different experience in-game, is really amazing, and something we’re very proud of.
What’s been the response from your average VR player regarding the horror?
The demo has been played by tens of thousands around the world at various events and I feel like we’ve seen every type of reaction regarding the horror: pure terror, excited laughter, guy trying to act tough in front of his girlfriend who then loses his $&^.
The most interesting part is to see how different people react to the horror. Some will creep through not wanting to advance, while others will speed through it to “get it over with”. Then the way in which they play it dictates the events happening around them.
"I think both VR and AR are going to explode like nothing we have ever seen before. Entertainment and gaming are just the tip of the iceberg."
How long will the experience be as a whole? When translating a film to the video game format, what steps did you take to ensure the right pacing and narrative?
First, let me be clear that this game is a standalone narrative. It is very much in the mythology of the films, but it is a new story and a game made for VR specifically. As far as pacing, I again can’t give away too much. I will say that VR makes pacing very interesting from a development standpoint because of the freedom that we’re giving the player. This is especially true when creating a hyper-real environment like the one in ‘Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul‘.
Will there be a branching decisions based on player actions and different endings?
Apparently I got ahead of myself earlier, but yes. The players decisions will directly effect gameplay.
Will we see other Paranormal Activity VR titles in the future if the first is a success?
We sure hope so! It’s been such an amazing experience getting the opportunity to bring this franchise to life in VR.
What are your thoughts on VR horror games? Is there a fear that it could become too scary for the player or not scary enough?
Go big or go home. We’re making the scariest experience of all time. “Too scary” is not a phrase that we condone.
Do you think Paranormal Activity VR could set a precedent for other studios to pursue VR horror titles of their films?
What are your thoughts on the future of VR as a whole?
I think both VR and AR are going to explode like nothing we have ever seen before. Entertainment and gaming are just the tip of the iceberg. Education, medicine, business, social, communication, it’s all going to be revolutionized.
"Developing for VR requires a lot of checks and balances right now as you have to process for both eyes (although there have already been some breakthroughs in that department already)."
From a consumer perspective, how successful are iterative consoles likely to be, do you think? I mean, the PS4 and Xbox One did just launch three years ago, and they were pretty expensive, too…
Some of the most popular mobile phones are just as (if not more) expensive than the consoles we are seeing now. I believe it’s a good comparison because like mobile phones, not everyone will upgrade on every iteration and more than likely you can still run most of the same apps. I fell it really is a personal preference of if/when you decide to upgrade.
As developers, do you prefer the more conservative approach for an upgrade that Sony have targeted with the Neo, or do you think Microsoft’s more radical jump ahead with the Scorpio is more promising?
For VR specifically, I say bring on the power. Developing for VR requires a lot of checks and balances right now as you have to process for both eyes (although there have already been some breakthroughs in that department already). I think both are extremely promising and helpful as we continue to push the boundaries of this new medium.
What are your thoughts about PSVR’s lower cost? Do you think with a 44 million install base and a lower VR entry cost, Sony’s headset will rule the roost?
Well, it sure doesn’t hurt. I think Sony is doing a great job introducing VR to the console audience, and I’m confident it is going to be a huge success.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Keep an eye out for ‘Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul‘, coming to PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus! For all the latest be sure to follow @PAVRGAME @VRWERX.