From August 8th to 9th, over ten thousand people showed up to the Pasadena Convention Center to experience all things horror. The event dubbed ScareLA is the first SoCal convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween and is situated in the entertainment capital of the world, combining the city’s top talent and unique cultural setting with a twist. Guests got to celebrate the West Coast’s scariest faire and indulge in hundreds of exclusive attraction unveils, DIY workshops, classes, industry panels, live haunt experiences, screenings and so much more. At the center of it all, 3 virtual reality demos were on display – adding a new technological buzz to the conference. We reviewed each one.
Nevermind – by Flying Mollusk
Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced adventure horror game that takes people into the dark and twisted world of the subconscious. As they explore surreal labyrinths and solve the puzzles of the mind, a biofeedback sensor monitors how scared or stressed the gamer becomes moment-to-moment. If they let their fears get the best of them, the game will become harder. The view gets distorted and difficult to see. However, if the user is able to calm down in the face of terror, the game becomes more forgiving and easier to see into.
Nevermind is a full game on Steam, but they also have a virtual reality demo where they took out certain scenes to experiment with in the new medium. The starting area is a small grassy field with twisted and warped houses all around. Walking through a garage takes the user into an underground environment with tons of faces embedded into the walls. Each place fit perfectly into VR, as the trippy nature of each environment radiated through the areas.
After checking out both locations, I kept exploring the game. This led me to another room. At this point, the developer told me the next environment was not optimized for VR – which often made people sick. This only intrigued me more. They let me keep going, only because of my pre-existing tolerance to vomit-inducing experiences. Plus, I rarely feel motion (aka sim) sickness.
Soon, I was walking along a spiral pathway putting me on the side of the walls and on the ceiling. From there, I entered a church with beings that had masks for faces. Suddenly, they all looked my way. It was creepy and presence-inducing all at the same time. I’m glad I had the opportunity to make it into that room, as it worked well in a VR scenario – totally worth the trip.
The Seance – by Spectral Illusions
This mind-bending journey through a surreal haunted house is a new virtual reality experience from Spectral Illusions that debuted at ScareLA. Spectral Illusions is known for their projection and video effects for haunted attractions. Now, they created an immersive teaser that showed what it would look like to travel through a virtual haunted environment.
One of the highlights includes an intense moment that occurs while journeying through a dark and ominous hallway. Anticipation builds, wondering what will happen next. Then, all of a sudden, the hallway warps chaotically lunging the user forward in a way that is truly startling. It is a thrill ride the whole way through, which got some great reactions at ScareLA.
Virtual Screams – by Ryan Batcheller
The idea behind Virtual Screams is to offer theme park style Haunt experiences using the new Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The demo shown at ScareLA is a roller coaster ride through a “phobia simulator.” As the Indiegogo campaign page for the project states, it is “designed to simulate and cure phobias and anxieties for their patients the Phobia Simulation chamber is the newest edition to the Phobos Laboratories.”
To learn more about each demo, click the links listed above.