Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife review (Oculus)

The eagerly anticipated Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife was one of the highlights of this week’s inaugural Oculus Showcase, and was released the following day. A PSVR version is coming later, but you can already dive into the PC-based Rift and standalone Quest versions. We did – here’s our take.

Even though we hadn’t seen it hands on before reviewing it, we had two good reasons to look forward to Wraith. Fast Travel Games was developing it, and their previous VR outings were Apex Construct and The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets. Very different games, but shining examples of VR gaming in their own right. The other reason is that the game is based on the World of Darkness from White Wolf, which is extremely well suited to the kind of scares that VR can bring. It felt like a good combination from the start.

For those not familiar with the World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquarade probably rings a bell, and the recent Werewolf: The Apocalypse game also fall under the brand. Wraith: The Oblivion (you can see the naming scheme that’s going on here) is perhaps a tad lesser known, but focuses on wraiths – creates who died but have unfinished business in life. For many, that will evoke memories of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings epic.

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Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife has a keen focus on the supernatural and plays much like you’d expect a survival horror game in VR would, providing plenty of creepy tension that would have worked on a flat screen but works especially great inside a headset. You don’t need to be familiar with the original table top material either, since the game features its own narrative that can be enjoyed as a standalone tale.

In it, you find yourself in the house of aging actor Howard Barclay. You’re a photographer sent up there to document a séance – but as with pretty much every séance in popular culture things go horribly wrong and you – Ed Millar – end up dead. You’re now a wraith, not able to grasp why you died or why you didn’t pass on to the afterlife the proper way, so you head back to the mansion to investigate.

This isn’t a happy place, and a sense of dread quickly overcomes you and never really lets go. Barclay’s glory days are behind him, and the house is a stark reminder of that. Darkness, haunting ghosts and things that are falling apart are clear hints that this wasn’t just an accident, but you’re not alone in finding out what transpired. You’re with a being called the Shadow – a manifestation of your darker side who acts as a guide in all things supernatural.

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Your Shadow will help you find your way around the house and around some of your new abilities – which include ghostly ones like being able to float through walls. New abilities gradually unlock and open up more avenues inside the house, though you always have to be weary of violent spectres, making stealth the most viable option in a few incredibly stressful encounters.

Fast Travel Games has included a host of movement/comfort options for the game, though if you can handle it I’d recommend using full locomotion for the best possible immersion. What also helps is that on both the Quest 2 and the Rift version, Wraith looks and sounds great – with visuals and audio that complement the atmosphere we mentioned. If you’ve played Alyx then you might lament a relative lack of interactivity with (objects in) the environment here and there and you might see the odd visual glitch, but within the technical scope of the Quest it’s still very impressive.

Resident Evil 7 has been a benchmark for VR horror for years now, but Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife comes awfully close. The campaign is quite a bit longer than a typical VR game campaign as well, so for horror fans we’d say this is a must-buy.

Score: 8.3/10

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