Jumpy, freaky horror games are a great fit for PSVR. Being inside the headset and being immersed in the world really amplifies the terror factor. It’s all around you, there is no escape and it’s much scarier than playing on a normal TV. On a normal TV, you can still see the surrounding area, your furniture and a lot of real-world objects. Put on your PSVR headset and there is nothing but the video game, I rarely find anything scary really but as soon as that headset goes on, the fright factor gets ramped up to 10. Everything is magnified, the sound, the visuals and it’s a great experience.
On to A Chair in the Room then, which I had no idea about until this review. I had a quick gander at a trailer and found something that looks equally eerie and uncanny. Story-wise I found this game to be a bit abstract. I got some of the story elements but due to the fractured nature of it all, I had to do a bit of reading up after to fill out some areas. That’s the problem with games like this, sometimes they are overly weird. Things play out in weird orders and the narrative gets broken a little. I will say though that the story is very powerful, and fits the style of game well.
The gameplay for this quirky little title is quite simple really, you are put into various rooms and sometimes even a set of interconnected rooms. Your task is to piece together what you should be doing to move forward and progress. It usually revolves around piecing together your memories. This seems to be something that you have done multiple times in this game and there are clues littered everywhere. You have left yourself helpful messages, you have severe memory loss and you have left yourself these messages for your next trip through to help you remember.
These self-contained rooms are full of interactable objects. You must work out what you must do to progress, it varies quite a bit too from the quite obvious to the very obscure. Some rooms were very obvious about what needed to be done and some rooms left me scratching my head. Sometimes you just had to do nothing, it was all very strange and the variation between rooms stopped the game having a real flow to it. Paired with the fractured story it all seemed a bit hit and miss but maybe that’s when the developer wanted. Maybe it’s because you have memory issues and if that’s the case its a stroke of genius, otherwise, it just felt a little off.
A Chair in a Room was very eerie, there was a couple of times I did jump and shout out. As I stated earlier I rarely get scared in films, games or anything really but due to the nature of VR, there were a couple of moments in the game that did freak me out. You have nowhere to hide, it’s just there and you have to tackle it head on. This game is not outright scary, it’s very tame actually but what it does well is the atmosphere it portrays. The music and visuals combine into something very dank, dark and ominous. The simplest of things become horrid and I found myself, on a couple of occasions moving very slowly through its various chapters.
Graphically this game is top notch, all the environments and objects are modelled remarkably well. Even in the VR headset, which houses a low-resolution screen, the game looks very lifelike and believable. The lighting is especially immersive, rooms have a horrid darkness to them and when you don’t have a light source it’s quite offputting. The graphical presentation of this game really added to the overall atmosphere it was trying to achieve. Rooms have dark corners, the wallpaper was old and peeling off, walls were decrepit and forgotten about. I really enjoyed the visuals in this game and it’s one of the titles best assets.
The sound design in A Chair in a Room is also one of it’s biggest assets, the sound design is superb. Freaky music and realistic sound effects combine to make your time in this game very anxious. The music does a good job of amplifying the tense scenes in the game and the sound effects do their job admirably. I advise wearing headphones when you play, as once again this ups the level of immersion and fear. The whole sound design and graphical design do a great job of making this title believable and immersive. This part of the game I enjoyed the most.
Performance wise, A Chair in a Room performed very well. The only thing that bothered me was sometimes the item interaction did not work as well as other VR titles. I have played a lot or VR, a massive amount in fact and I got frustrated a few times in this title. Sometimes things got stuck in the environment, sometimes the item collision detection and physics went awry. Luckily it was not too often and did not detract too much from the overall experience. I had zero bugs, framerate issues or glitches through and that was nice. Overall the title performed well and the VR implementation did not get in the way too much.
There are a lot of VR options in the game to make the experience as comfortable as possible. You can use teleportation or motion movement, you can select smooth turning or snap turning. You can even change the speed and increments of them all. All these options are superb and should be the standard now for VR games, everyone should be able to find a system that works for them and feel comfortable when playing the game. I will say though that even on the top speed setting I found the walking too slow, it was not too much of an issue though because the environments were small. Otherwise, this may have become an issue.
On the whole, I enjoyed A Chair in a Room. I just wish the story and gameplay were a bit more clear. That might just be me though, I don’t play games like this very often so other people might be fine with it. The graphics and sound are superb and pair together to give the player a very immersive and freaky experience. The game is not scary really, just has a few scenes that will make you jump or make you feel a bit uncomfortable. The game is quite short so take that into account when spending your hard earned cash. It lasted me about 3 or so hours but your mileage may vary. If you want an immersive, eerie and short VR experience then this game may be the one for you.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*