1999’s Blair Witch Project pioneered the use of ‘found footage’ within movies, and it’s upcoming sequel is now bringing the concept to virtual reality.
Blair Witch is a follow-up to the cult horror film that once again sees a group of friends travel into a forest to investigate the disappearance of the cast of the original movie. To promote its release, Lionsgate is launching a short VR experience for the Google Cardboard headset that ties into that film. It’s a promising concept, though it ultimately goes to waste here.
The experience isn’t a simple 360 degree video, which might have actually been pretty effective in this case. Instead, it’s a browser-based 3D piece, which should mean it’s just as immersive as many of the full horror experiences available on Cardboard. Sadly that isn’t quite the case; the Blair Witch VR experience is short, confusing and lackluster to say the least.
It’s comprised of a handful of small scenes in which the player simply looks around the area, focusing on objects of interest. Your point of view acts as a flashlight, and when you do find something, you’ll have to simply look at it to trigger a soundbite from the movie, though you’ll at first just wonder where the voices are coming from.
After about three or four minutes of this you’ll come to the end of the experience and a trailer for the movie will play. It leaves you feeling cold, but not in the right way. It comes off as something of a missed opportunity, given that found 360 degree footage is an unexplored idea with a heap of potential for some major scares.
Granted this is only a promotional experience, but we’ve come to expect a higher quality from even this area of VR content by this point. It’s arguably the least frightening thing seen in a headset.
Thankfully there are plenty of other VR games that will hopefully fill the hole this piece leaves. The most obvious candidate is Capcom’s Resident Evil 7, which itself has sections in which the player is looking through the lens of a camera. Earlier this week we learned that the developer is also trying to improve the PlayStation VR support to make it as comfortable an experience as possible.