Reficul VR Review (Oculus Rift)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
I personally like it when developers try out new ideas with the VR medium, and try to avoid some of the clichés that come with VR genres. Well this is what the team MadAboutGamesStudios have tried to do with their game Reficul, but does it do it successfully?
You will start out the game finding a note from someone called Neill that explains the world has gone to hell, and you need to get the pistol he has left you somewhere in the house and get out, while being cautious. With Neill being the sort of person he is, he has also left you a conveniently marked map showing where he has gone – openly suggesting this is where he wants you to go.
That will open the narrative for the game, and then they add the gameplay element – which is where the team have done something different with the horror genre. The main feature of the gameplay being that the game is an open-world survival horror game, but they have thrown some rougelike parts into the game, meaning a procedurally generated environment and off course permadeath. Leaving it up you to survive and solves the puzzles to complete the game without dying… if you can of course (at the point of this review I haven’t managed this yet).
Of course the game will provide you with the tools to try to do this, be this the aforementioned guns that are available throughout the world, or even the magical weapons you might be lucky enough to find. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why weapons are going to be needed, these are need to take on the creatures you will fighting. One thing I found is that finding weapons and ammo was not really an issue if you were looking enough, something that seems to be more like old survival horror games than newer ones – but believe me it does not make surviving any easier.
In the game it’s quite odd as you are going to be taking on Shadows, which sort of takes away some of the fear that the atmosphere does a great job of building. Even though they will take you out pretty quickly if you do not deal with them, they just seem don’t as threatening as a you’d want. Reficul itself points out this feeling, because throughout the world you will find books from parts of the bible that have a number of uses. One of which is making these Shadows take a more corporeal form, and even at this point you will seem more threatened by them.
The team at MadAboutGamesStudios states the game includes realistic weapon handling and it does this. If you have played games like Onward, you will have no issues with how the reloading and weapons work – if not it will take some practice to get it down. But, all I can say is given how dark the game is and you needing the flash light ninety-nine percent of the time, make sure you have gun loaded and cocked in the quiet times, because trying this when mid-fight can become tricky and lead to some deaths.
Everyone knows to make a decent horror experience, the most important part in the VR gaming side is the atmosphere you build. I mentioned previously the game does a great job of building at atmosphere, and this is all done by the overall presentation.
If you are looking at the visuals of the actual environments they might not be the most inspiring on the platform, but what they do well is the lighting. Given the game is so dark you can feel lost at times, even when given a candle of flash light. With the shadows from the lighting being very strong, it really brings some immersion, and given the enemies start out as Shadows it can bring some nerves when you getting surrounded with shadows from objects in the room. You then get what I feel is the games strongest point in the sound. The general noises in the game like creeks, the wind and thunder is enough to get your heart rate to increase. Add to this whispered lines in the games and I have never been so on edge playing a VR horror title.
This is where the randomized environments really come into play as well. Given that everything is going to be laid out differently, your items are in different places, and the enemies changing places after each death , it gives the feeling of the unknown. Which for me is one of the worst feelings, being somewhere you don’t know especially when it’s pitch black with little lighting. Making all the atmospheric touches have that much more impact on your nerves.
When it comes to playing the game it should be played standing, and can use room scale if you have that option. The game offers both free locomotion using the right analogue stick and turning yourself, or teleport using the left Touches analogue. Most of your interaction is done using the triggers on the controllers to interact with or pick up items. The face buttons are not used for much, when it comes to your weapons they will release the magazine and get it ready to reload.
It is hard to put a length on the game, in order to complete you are going to have to manage to survive, and then even if you complete it, the procedurally generated aspect makes everything different. So, really I feel it is all going to come down to your tolerance for horror games and if you enjoy what you playing – because you can always go back to it and experience the game differently.
Reficul is certainly an interesting entry into the horror genre, with the rougelike elements making it stand out as something different. However it does come with some issues, with the main one for being the choice of making the enemies Shadows. However, they have nailed the atmosphere in the game and given the procedurally generated levels the sense of the unknown makes that atmosphere amplified. I would say if you are a fan of VR horror and want a game in that genre that offers something a little different, certainly check out Reficul.
Also available on HTC Vive